CINCINNATI (AP) -- Gunner Kiel let it fly on the first series, completing a 47-yard pass to Chris Moore. And that was just the start of a wide-open spring football performance that left coach Tommy Tuberville feeling a whole lot better.
Kiel threw for 300 yards and looked smooth running Cincinnati's first-team offense during the Bearcats' spring game Saturday. The transfer from Notre Dame was 17 of 22 while leading the offense to three touchdowns and a field goal in the first half, giving him the edge for the starting job. Cincinnati needs to replace quarterback Brendon Kay, who graduated.
''Obviously, Gunner looked really, really good today,'' Tuberville said.
It was a big improvement from the second-to-last scrimmage a week earlier. The offense struggled all-around in that one, with Kiel going 9 of 20 for 44 yards. Junior college transfer Jarred Evans, who is competing with Kiel, threw three interceptions.
Two offensive linemen didn't play in the previous scrimmage, leaving the quarterbacks under pressure. The offense was back to normal Saturday, and the quarterbacks gave much better showings.
''First of all, the offense: I can sleep a little bit better now,'' Tuberville said.
Kiel sat out last season after transferring, but got to learn the offense. He ran it smoothly Saturday, completing every type of pass. He had completions of 47, 46 and 42 yards, and he ran 3 yards for a touchdown.
''I came out with a chip on my shoulder to get better and compete and have fun and play fast, because that's what we're good at,'' Kiel said.
The Bearcats will have a deeper receiving corps next season. Tuberville is hoping for more long passes out of their spread offense. Kiel got plenty of chances Saturday.
''All these fast offenses are kind of dink-'em-around offenses,'' Tuberville said. ''We don't want to do that.''
Evans is still learning the offense. He was 17 of 30 for 172 yards on Saturday while playing against the starting defense most of the time.
''It's coming real well for me now,'' Evans said. ''I understand the reads, what the defense is doing, where to go with the ball faster.''
Munchie Legaux, the starter at the beginning of last season, tore ligaments and damaged cartilage in his left knee during the second game. The NCAA granted him an extra season of eligibility.
Legaux is rehabilitating the knee, hoping he can play again. It's unclear whether he'll be ready when the Bearcats open training camp during the summer. During spring football, he was limited to throwing the ball during drills. The knee wasn't strong enough to allow him to run.
''We're not going to forget about Munchie,'' Tuberville said. ''We've all got our fingers crossed.''
Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjoekay