CINCINNATI (AP) — Quarterback Brendon Kay can't figure out why Cincinnati's offense takes so long to get started.
The Bearcats (3-2, 0-1 American Athletic) can't seem to get going when they get onto the field. They've scored only 14 points in the first quarter all season, and all of those came in one game.
That's their biggest concern as they get ready to play Temple (0-5, 0-2) on Friday night at Nippert Stadium. Their penchant for slow starts is costing them.
"We've got to eliminate the turnovers and mistakes, whether it's not being on the same page, me holding the ball or throwing the ball late," Kay said. "Across the board, we've got to get better."
So far, the defense has done its part. The Bearcats rank fourth nationally in yards allowed and will be facing an Owls offense with a new quarterback. Redshirt freshman P.J. Walker will start in place of junior Connor Reilly, who has a lingering knee injury but could play if necessary.
Walker took over during a 30-7 loss to Louisville last week and moved the offense better than Reilly, whose mobility is limited. First-year coach Matt Rhule decided to stick with the freshman against Cincinnati, which has done a good job pressuring quarterbacks.
"We have two guys that can play," Rhule said. "I thought Connor played well early. We just didn't have the protection we needed for him to be successful. P.J. has gotten better over the last four, five weeks. It's time for him to go out and play. Connor just has to wait for his time."
Here's five things to watch on Friday night:
THAT FIRST DRIVE: Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville harped on those slow starts this week, hoping for a better opening against the Owls. The Bearcats have been blanked in four of their five first quarters.
They've had turnovers and penalties and plenty of missed chances to put together a tone-setting drive.
"We have to start faster on offense because if you look at what we have done, we have started very slow every game offensively," Tuberville said. "We looked at every scenario, and something different happens on each and every drive that we start the game out with. We need to play better at the beginning of the game — I guess play with more emotion."