CINCINNATI - UC football opened camp on Wednesday with the same question they've been asking since the end of last season, who will lead the Bearcats at starting quarterback?
Head coach Tommy Tuberville has options, but, which one is the best option for UC to turn things around from a disappointing 7-6 season in 2015? Gunner Kiel is the most battle-tested and carries the most accolades, the former top rated high school QB in the country was on several preseason award watch lists in 2015, but injuries and inconsistency with turnovers have watered down his college career.
"The thing about Gunner is, he looks good, looks good, then we turn the ball over," said Tuberville. "We're not going to have turnovers this year. We're not going to beat ourselves this year. Other teams have to line up and beat us."
Kiel enters camp at number three on the depth chart because of a shoulder injury in the spring, despite being the starting quarterback to open the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Number two on the depth chart is Redshirt Freshman Ross Trail. He's never played a college snap under center. So, who's number one?
"Last year, I was prepared to start and this year I'm prepared to start just the same," said Sophomore Hayden Moore, who is currently listed as the number one QB on the depth chart. "I'm just looking at it right now as still open. There's no starter right now. It just happens to be that I'm getting the first reps on the first day. My mentality has changed at all."
By the numbers, Kiel has been the most impressive with 6,031 yards passing and 50 touchdowns in 23 games over two seasons – the 24 interceptions are a microcosm of why Tuberville is holding an open competition at QB. In eight games last season, Moore threw for 1,885 yards and 9 touchdowns, but was intercepted 11 times and has a lower completion percentage (59%) than Kiel.
Past performance looks good on paper, but Tuberville told Fox19 NOW a decision about this season will come down to what happens over the next two weeks.
"We will move them around, first, second and third, as we go through the next couple weeks," Tuberville said. "Once we make a decision at the end of the second scrimmage (August 20th), that'll be the quarterback we start with going into the first game."
UC kicks off the season on Thursday, September 1, against UT-Martin at Nippert Stadium.