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Cincinnati QB Trials: Kiel v. Moore v. Trail

1:20 PM, April 24, 2016
Article by Jacob Geiser

Last year, the Cincinnati Bearcats went into the season with Gunner Kiel under center. Heading into this season? It remains a question. Gunner Kiel had a great sophomore campaign, but struggled in 2015. He threw for 2,777 yards and 19 TD's but had 11 INT's including 5 vs. Temple. That game was the start of dreadful season. Kiel got hurt in the game vs. Miami (OH) and in came Hayden Moore who was freshmen (RS). Moore held the pieces together in a win vs. Miami (OH). Kiel returned for the Memphis game only to be knocked out by a cheap shot. After the rough outing Moore had vs. the Redhawks, it seemed the game was lost. Well, fans would be dead wrong; Moore threw for 557 yards and 4 TD's breaking the school record for most yards in a game. Even though they lost the game, Moore showed he has a bright future, and he followed it up with a victory vs. the Hurricanes of Miami (FL). The starting job bounced from Kiel to Moore throughout the year, but both seemed to struggle at times. It was a rough year all around and when it ended, everyone had a sigh of relief.

Now there is a question on the table. Who is going to start going into this year? Gunner Kiel and Hayden Moore are the two who outsiders would assume the battle is between. However, Ross Trail is a guy who could win the spot. Trail was a highly rated recruit coming out of Arkansas. He had offers from Louisville, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Auburn. He had a better spring game than Moore; throwing for 157 yards he completed 12 of his 21 passes. He did however throw only 1 TD and had an INT. Trail is only a freshmen (RS) and has plenty of room to grow. Tuberville loves what Trail can bring to the table, but I don't see a freshmen winning this competition.

Left: Coach Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bearcats
Right: Coach Eric Taylor of the Dillon Panthers
So this leaves Kiel and Moore as the last two men standing. Kiel took a step back last season with the way he played but still has that NFL arm strength and is a very good quarterback. Being banged up from week to week seemed to effect his play. Kiel stands to benefit from the hiring of Offensive Coordinator Zac Taylor. Taylor is the former Miami Dolphins OC and has already implemented a more balanced offense. Mike Boone should get more carries to alleviate some of the pressure from the pass game. UC relied a little too much on the passing game in the Eddie Gran era, and that shouldn't be the case with Coach Taylor. The comparisons will be flying all year.

Kiel's NFL future will be crushed if he is benched during his senior year, but I don't see Tuberville benching Kiel this season; however, it's Tuberville so who knows. Gunner did miss the spring game due to an injury, but Hayden Moore and Ross Trail still were dead locked with him in the competition after the spring game. The opportunity is still there for Kiel to take back the starting spot. Kiel will still have to prove that he deserves that spot. Hayden Moore showed us glimpses of what he is capable of being QB1 for the Bearcats. For Kiel's sake, I hope he wins the battle. He has the chance to be an NFL quarterback because the next few classes seem rather weak at the QB position. According to CBS Sports, Gunner Kiel is currently the 7th ranked draft prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft. I can't tell you how accurate those projections are, but if Kiel can eliminate the turnovers and build off of what he has accomplished at UC, he should be alright.

Hayden Moore's case for the starting spot is a good one. When Kiel got knocked out of the Miami (OH) game, Moore struggled tremendously. He tried to do too much and it was clear he wasn't prepared to be in that game, but Moore and the Cats escaped Oxford with a win; which is all that matters. Kiel was ready to go for the Memphis game, but took a vicious blow to the head and had to be carted off the field and taken to the hospital. I thought the game was over, but Hayden Moore had something to say about that. Moore kept the Bearcats in the shootout with Memphis all the way to the end, until he fumbled to end the game. Moore was devastated. He broke the single game record for passing yards, yet he would be scared with the fact that he cost them the game. It was a shame, but Moore played with a certain poise and swagger which gave UC fans hope in Moore. The young quarterback showed he has a bright future with the Bearcats. He never really matched that performance again, which is understandable. He ended his campaign with a 42-7 loss to San Diego State. However, that was pinned more on coaching than anything else. With his sophomore campaign on the horizon, he has a case to be QB1, one that has a win vs. Miami (FL) and a record setting game. He held everything together while Kiel was gone. Is it enough to land him the job?

It will all come down to how the summer goes for both Kiel and Moore. However, I think we know the verdict on this one.

Bolt's Verdict: Gunner Kiel wins due to seniority. 

Gunner Kiel is a very experienced quarterback who is entering his senior year. He has been a very good quarterback marred with injuries in Clifton. He has played big on the national stage against teams like Ohio State. Kiel needs to cut down on the turnovers no doubt, and I think a short leash will be on Kiel due to the fact that Tuberville has Hayden Moore at his disposal. OC Zac Taylor's new balanced offense will make defenses put more men in the box because of Boone's explosiveness. Thus, giving Kiel some breathing room when it comes to passing the ball. UC offense becoming a balanced offense will more than most think. One more thing, after the Spring game it was evident that the Bearcats have become a better defense. 2015 was a offensive shootout, 2016 was a defensive slug fest full of tremendous play from what appears to be a ball hawking defense. This puts less pressure on the offense to be able to stay in shootouts with opponents. With Kiel's NFL future on the line, I expect to see Tuberville make Gunner Kiel QB1.