CINCINNATI (AP) — One lopsided loss has coach Tommy Tuberville ready to make significant changes in Cincinnati.
The biggest one is out of his control. Sixth-year senior Brendon Kay moves back into the starting quarterback job for a game against Northwestern State on Saturday night now that Munchie Legaux is gone with an injured left knee.
Kay took over for Legaux midway through last season, led the Bearcats to a 4-1 mark and was the incumbent before he developed a sore passing shoulder in camp that cost him significant practice time and allowed Legaux to move back into the starting role.
The Bearcats (1-1) have no concerns about Kay's ability to run the offense. Their main question is whether his shoulder holds up.
"It's 90 to 95 percent," Kay said. "By Saturday, I'll be full-go. Last week was a good week of practice, my first full week in a long time. So I'll be ready to go this Saturday."
Tuberville has been moving players around following a 45-17 loss at Illinois that gave him a better idea of how his new team might fit together. He'll get the first chance to test it on Saturday night against the Demons (2-0).
Here's five things to look for in their matchup at Nippert Stadium:
HOW'S THE SHOULDER? Kay played the fourth quarter of an opening 42-7 win over Purdue and at Illinois after Legaux was hurt. Last week, he went through a full week of practice for the first time since the shoulder became sore, an indication it's close to normal.
"He is ready to go," Tuberville said. "He is excited and understands the situation. The great thing about this is last year he came in later in the year and played pretty well. It is not like we have an inexperienced guy out there running the offense. Our players respect Brendon and they know what he can do."
WHO'S NEXT UP? Redshirt freshman quarterback Bennie Coney had only a few plays in practice when Legaux and Kay were running the offense. Tuberville's staff has to get him ready to go in case something happens to Kay. That means getting him into a game in a low-pressure situation.
"He will go in the game on Saturday no matter how we are doing," Tuberville said. "We have to get him into the game. We can't put him into a tough situation when the first time he goes in he looks around and hasn't taken a snap."
THOSE BEARCATS CHANGES: Tuberville won't divulge many of his changes. But he wasn't pleased with how some players performed on defense, so you can expect some there. He's also concerned about the lack of a power running back for his goal line package.
Tuberville has been trying to figure out which players fit in the various packages.
"You will see Saturday there will be a glaring difference in who's on the field, where they are at, and what they are doing," Tuberville said. "It is like putting that puzzle together. You just have to get all the right ones in there at the right time to give yourself a chance to win games."
THE DEMONS' BIG STEP UP: Northwestern State has won its first two games under first-year coach Jay Thomas, putting the Demons halfway to matching their win total from last season. That 4-7 record last year included an opening 44-6 loss at Texas Tech, which was coached by Tuberville.
The Demons have won at Missouri State 23-17 and at home over Southern 55-14.
"It's a real good opportunity for our guys to step up a class," Thomas said. "It gives us another measuring stick to see where we are heading."
Northwestern State has a lot of history against it this week. The Demons have lost their last 14 games against FBS opponents since a 27-23 win over Louisiana-Monroe to open the 2005 season.
DEMONS IN MOTION: One of Northwestern State's strengths has been an offense led by first-year quarterback Zach Adkins, a junior college transfer. He went 22 of 34 without an interception last week and leads the Southland Conference with 313 passing yards per game. The Demons have had only one three-and-out series on offense in each of the first two games.
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay