It’s no secret, since the Bearcats have implemented the spread offense, quarterbacks tend to get injured. Injury is a huge risk any time you take away offensive protection and leave the offense in the hands of QB 1. Whether it was Dustin Grutza, Tony Pike, Zach Collaros, Munchie Legaux, or Gunner Kiel, these former and current starting quarterbacks have been sidelined due to injury for significant stretches of the season. UC would not have won the AAC last year or for example, gone to the Orange and Sugar Bowls, without fantastic backup quarterback play.
Munchie Legaux graduated so who steps up next? As of today it is unclear. However, by all accounts it is looking like #9 redshirt freshman Hayden Moore will be the go-to man if Gunner goes down. Senior quarterback Jarred Evans remains suspended. Evans is athletic and can run as he demonstrated against OSU last year. However, he has never really thrown the ball and he is a head case. On the other hand, Moore will have 4 years to grow under the system.
Mr. Moore, a 6’ 3”, 193 lb. accounting major and quarterback, even has the quintessential southern swoop haircut.
Moore enrolled early at UC in January 2014 to participate in spring football last year. He was listed as a 3-star recruit and the #20 player in the state of Alabama. During his senior year he led Clay-Chalkville High School to the second round of the Class 6A Football Championship and was 89-of-140 for 1,507 yards and 22 total TDs. He threw 19 TD passes and rushed for 3 while completing 63.6% of his passes.
During the UC spring game last week, Moore was 22-of-29 for 391 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. He was working against the second team D, but this is still a great sign for things to come. When speaking of Moore after the spring game, coach Tubs said: “Hayden has gotten a lot better this spring. He still throws the ball up for grabs a little bit, but he’s learning the offense. He’s farther along than I thought he would be. We’re going to need him. We’ve only got two quarterbacks right now. We’ll see what happens with Jarred Evans. I don’t know where that’s at yet, but we’re going to have to have Hayden Moore be able to play a lot next year.”
Obviously, nothing makes up for real game experience. Hopefully, Moore can get his feet wet early in the season in the second half against Alabama A&M, Temple, and Miami (OH). While I hope Gunner can stay healthy all year and tear up the record books with his stable of offensive weapons, if he does go down, Moore should be next in line.
By Andy Smith