CINCINNATI (AP) — Playing as a ranked team for the first time this season, No. 21 Cincinnati wants to see its junior quarterback make everything look routine.
Cincinnati (4-0) has two chances to fix its biggest problems before getting back into Big East play. The Bearcats' most glaring shortcoming: Munchie Legaux is missing the easy throws. He often winds up and puts too much on his passes when he sees an open receiver.
Legaux overshot one in the corner of the end zone, then severely overthrew another down the sideline during the first half of a 52-14 win over southwest Ohio rival Miami on Saturday. The wasted chances didn't matter against Miami, and Legaux could probably get away with it again on Saturday against Fordham (4-2).
Next, though, come games at Toledo and at Big East favorite Louisville, where every missed chance could make the difference.
"I can't come out and miss those deep balls like I did and those 'gimme' throws," Legaux said. "That's the mark of a good quarterback, being consistent."
The Bearcats are pleased with Legaux's development in his first year as the starter, running an offense with seven new starters in all. He has completed 55 percent of his throws for 946 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions, one of them on a throw he forced into coverage in the end zone.
The dual-threat quarterback also has run 31 times with a touchdown.
His finest moment came during a 27-24 win over Virginia Tech two weeks ago. Legaux led the first game-winning drive of his career, throwing a 39-yard touchdown pass with 13 seconds left.
He's been good in the biggest moments. It's the routine ones that have been the problem.
"Munchie has to become much more consistent," coach Butch Jones said. "I thought he played a very good second half (against Miami). I was not pleased with the first half. We are leaving way too many yards out there. We have to be able to play pitch-and-catch."
Expect to see Legaux airing it out against Fordham, a late addition to the schedule. The Bearcats needed another game after TCU backed out of the Big East realignment, and the Rams, of the FCS, were available. It'll be the first time they've played.
The Bearcats are trying to get Legaux out of some bad habits before they get back into Big East play. He sometimes drops his elbow when he throws, releasing the ball head-high. As a result, his passes tend to be flat, hurting his accuracy. He'll also step into his throws too much, making them sail.
It's tough to change a quarterback's throwing motion in the middle of a season.
"You can change it a lot," Legaux said. "It's just repeating it over and over. It's just becoming second-nature to you. You've got to work on those types of situations in practice so they come easy to you during the game. So this week I have to do a better job of doing the little small, mechanical things."
Legaux also got a lesson in coping with national attention last week after his winning touchdown pass against Virginia Tech. It's the first time he's had to juggle a lot of interview demands with everything else during a week leading up to a game.
"You talk the maturation of a football team, the maturation of a quarterback — it's understanding the scrutiny," Jones said. "Last week he was under much scrutiny. He was having all different interviews. He was being loved up around the country.
"Well, that's part of the scrutiny. Praise and blame, it's all the same. Understanding how you manage those expectations, how you manage that, but also the way you work."
AP freelance writer Paul Dehner contributed to this report.