Sept. 16, 2013
Written by: Cory Hall
A total of 675 days had passed since redshirt freshman Bennie Coney had taken a snap in a football game. In Saturday’s 66-9 win over Northwestern State, the streak was snapped and Coney didn’t miss a beat in his first collegiate appearance.
“It was great to get the chance and step on the field,” said Coney, “I had been waiting and working so hard for that day to come. I haven’t played in an actual game since my senior year of high school, so it felt good to finally get out there.”
The Plant City (Fla.) graduate’s last appearance in a football game was Nov. 10, 2011 in his final high school game. Coney and the Raiders battled with Tampa Bay Tech in a high-scoring affair that ended in favor of Tech, 31-28. Despite the result, Coney put together a remarkable performance in his final game as he accounted for 297 of Plant City’s 301 total yards while throwing for four touchdowns.
When Coney entered in the second quarter on Saturday, everyone was anxious to see the explosive, dual-threat quarterback in action, but the masses would have to wait a little longer as eight consecutive run plays were called, none of which were tucked away by Coney.
“At first, I was just waiting for a pass play to be called, but since our running game was working so well, my goal was to just keep the drive moving any way possible.”
"We wanted to make sure his nerves didn't get to him, and I put him in there early at 21-0 and told him that this game wasn’t over with,” said head coach Tommy Tuberville. “We wanted to see how he would perform with a little pressure on him, so we started simple at first.”
Following a Tion Green two-yard touchdown run, the Florida native returned to the sidelines the remainder of the half but was back under center midway through the third quarter for the next three Cincinnati possessions.
Coney didn’t post as gaudy of a stat line on Saturday night as he did in his final game with the Raiders, but UC’s quarterback-in-waiting went a perfect 5-for-5 for 60 yards and a touchdown, which was a 44-yard strike to Shakim Alonzo on third down and 30.
“I have to give a lot of the credit to the coaches for preparing me for the coverages that Northwestern State would be playing,” said Coney. “Because of how we prepared all week, I was able to read the defense, look off the safety and launch it to Shakim. I also credit my offensive line for giving great protection.”
So Coney competed each of his throws and notched his first career touchdown pass, but he still feels there is more to improve on.
“When I saw Shakim score, I ran all the way down the field and tried to celebrate, but when I jumped up to high five the guys, I fell on the ground. So my touchdown celebration needs a little work.”
Along with working on high-fives and celebrations, Coney looks to expand his knowledge of the game and become an integral part of the Bearcats’ offense for the remainder of the season.
“Looking forward, I know I need to be ready for whenever my number is called, so I can help this team any way possible.”
When you look at the rest of UC’s remaining games, what better game for Coney to make big time contributions than at USF? The Bulls play in Tampa, about 30 minutes away from his home in Plant City.
“I can’t wait for the USF game,” said Coney. “My whole family is coming, my church is coming. So it would be amazing to get a chance to play in front of everyone back home.”