CINCINNATI – Coach Butch Jones' son showed up for Cincinnati's family trick-or-treat day dressed as the Bearcats' quarterback — and yes, it was still Munchie Legaux.
Jones is sticking with his struggling quarterback.
The junior has thrown five interceptions in the last two games, leading to losses at Toledo and Louisville that knocked the Bearcats (5-2, 1-1 Big East) out of the national rankings and out of a front-runner position in the conference race. The worst was a lob into the end zone in overtime that was intercepted, helping Louisville pull out a 34-31 win on Friday.
Jones said on Tuesday that he won't consider replacing him.
"I haven't flinched and not on person on our football team has flinched, and I'm not going to," Jones said. "I believe in him."
Playing in a cold, driving rain, Legaux had his worst game of the season on Friday, throwing three interceptions, including the clincher in overtime. He finished 13 of 28 for 157 yards with one touchdown.
When Jones' son, Adam, showed up for the Bearcats' trick-or-treat event on Monday, he was dressed as Legaux.
"He was a quarterback and he was Munchie Legaux and he wanted to go see Munchie," his father said.
Jones is prepared to go through more growing pains with Legaux, who balances good throws with the occasional forced pass that can turn the game around. The Bearcats expect Syracuse (4-4, 3-1) to try to shut down their running game on Saturday at Nippert Stadium and force Legaux to throw.
"I think he has all the quarterback intangibles," Jones said. "He understands the offense. I think he has great physical tools. I just think it's experience. It's something he's going through.
"It's a growth process he's going through. But we do everything in practice with it. I have trust and belief that he will continue to get better at that. He's had some setbacks, but he will get better."
The school declined to make Legaux available for interviews on Tuesday.
Jones will try to help the first-year starter by giving him more chances to run on Saturday. He carried five times for 32 yards and a touchdown in Louisville, and could get more scrambles to take a little pressure off his passing.
Jones has been reluctant to have Legaux run frequently because he could get hurt.
"We're going to make a commitment to run him more," he said. "Five games left, every game's a playoff. Just try to change some things up offensively. Plus I think some of the things our opponents do lend themselves to our quarterback running the football."
Jones indicated that senior defensive end Walter Stewart likely won't play again. Stewart, the Bearcats' top pass rusher and team leader, has missed the last two games because of a spine problem. He's gotten two medical opinions about the risks of playing again.
Jones has offered him a chance to become part of the coaching staff. Stewart might get another medical opinion before making a decision.
"He's realistic," Jones said. "He's deciding what he wants to do with his life if playing football is not there. Obviously I'm trying to convince him to give coaching a try."