Gunner Kiel. Kahlil Lewis. Eric Wilson. Devin Gray. Zach Edwards. Mike Boone. All six had great individual performances, and each propelled the Bearcats ahead of ECU last night.
While it’s difficult to forecast the importance of one game, last night felt like a turning point. After a gut-punch of a loss on the road to Connecticut, UC needed to get back on track. The Bearcats led most of the game and were able to put the game out of reach in the second half.
First, the offense. With Gunner Kiel receiving his first start of the season, the offense moved the ball like a hot knife through butter. Gunner made some incredible throws, and maybe most importantly, he didn’t make any huge mistakes. His stat line says it all – 23-40 for 348 yards and 4 touchdowns (0 interceptions or fumbles).
Speaking of stat lines, Kahlil Lewis went off last night. Coach Tuberville has mentioned Kahlil as someone with next-level talent, and that was on full display against ECU. Lewis had 11 receptions for 150 yards and 3 touchdowns. After the game I spoke with Kahlil about Coach Tuberville’s comments about his potential. He said, “It’s motivating to hear that from your head coach. I have really tried to focus on my footwork and improving that because I know that’s key to making good on my potential.”
WR Devin Gray was also one of Gunner’s favorite targets, hauling in 6 receptions for 98 yards. While Mike Boone didn’t rush for 100 yards, he figured prominently in the Bearcats’ success. He rushed 14 times for 89 yards and caught a screen pass that went for 54 yards.
Defensively, the Bearcats took advantage of mistakes and played pretty well. Eric Wilson led the team with 16 total tackles, and Zach Edwards added 13.
After the game, Coach Tuberville said he was excited for Gunner and said he earned the starting role this week in practice. In light of recent criticism, Coach Tuberville added – “I hope Gunner starts the next 5 games and we win out and everyone can say I should’ve started him earlier…just want to win.”
During his press conference, Tuberville said that Senior Zach Edwards approached him last week during a meeting Coach Tuberville has with his seniors every Sunday. Edwards asked if Gunner could start this week, and Tuberville said Gunner did enough good things in practice to earn the nod from Offensive Coordinator Zac Taylor.
The rest, as they say, is history.
By Brian Fox