CINCINNATI — Redshirt freshman quarterback Hayden Moore will make his first career start Thursday night against Miami, filling in while Gunner Kiel recovers from his latest injury.
Kiel was taken to a hospital after suffering another neck injury during a 53-46 loss at Memphis last Thursday. He was released and returned with the team that night. He hadn't been cleared to return to practice.
Coach Tommy Tuberville said Tuesday night that Kiel won't play against the Hurricanes.
The Bearcats (2-2) got a record-setting performance from Moore over the last three quarters. He was 31 for 53 for a school-record 557 yards with four touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
Moore also took over when Kiel got hurt early in the second half of a 37-33 win at Miami of Ohio the previous week and had four turnovers before leading the winning touchdown drive.
With Kiel unable to practice, Tuberville decided to get Moore ready to play.
"Everything this week is built around Hayden now," Tuberville said Tuesday. "It would be a different offense if it was Gunner."
Miami (3-0) had last week off following an overtime win at Nebraska. The Hurricanes beat the Bearcats 55-34 last season in Miami, with Kiel throwing for three touchdowns.
The rematch in Cincinnati shapes up like another case of the Bearcats trying to keep up in a high-scoring game. They're third nationally in total yards with 622 per game, piling up 545 or more three times. They set six school records in the loss at Memphis, including 752 total yards and 620 yards passing.
Moore surpassed all expectations against Memphis, remaining calm after he got thrown in quickly in a road game.
"I'm still amazed," Tuberville said. "In three quarters he did that. I was proud. I talked to him on the sideline and when I went over to him after the second drive and he's smiling and grinning and I'm thinking: 'This kid has lost his mind.'"
Kiel is in his second season as the starter. He has completed 70 of 111 passes for 868 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions, missing significant parts of two games. Moore is 46 of 81 for 782 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions.
Tuberville said Kiel is still far ahead of Moore when it comes to running the offense and getting the team in the right pass protections and plays at the line of scrimmage.
"Let's not crown him the next Johnny Unitas yet," Tuberville said. "He's got a lot of room for improvement, and he's got to show it week-in and week-out. Right now, he's our quarterback.
"Gunner will not lose his position because of injury. Gunner is the best quarterback we have right now. When he comes back, he'll be the quarterback."
One of Moore's biggest challenges will be avoiding turnovers. The Bearcats ranked last nationally with nine interceptions and five fumbles. They've had nine interceptions and three fumbles in the last game, in part because of the sudden quarterback changes because of injuries.
"That's embarrassing," Tuberville said.
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