An LSU fan gives love to the TU offensive line and fullback. This LSU dad is saying what we were saying the first two years on this blog: Put a fullback in the game.
You do not go unbeaten in big-time college football without being a good coach, and that’s exactly what Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville is going into Saturday’s game (3:30, Lincoln Financial Field) against the AAC East first-place Temple Owls. That game could represent a last stand of sorts for Tuberville to pull off a road win over a favorite.
It is not a role he has been unfamiliar with in his 62 years on this planet.
Tuberville went unbeaten at Auburn (13-0) in 2004 and turned that single season into a $6 million buyout for being fired the next year. He winding road eventually took him to Cincinnati, where his wife is from and the natives there have been largely unhappy with his recent performance.
The question involving Tuberville surrounds whether coaches, like athletes, lose a little off their fastball and that appears to be his situation. He makes some in-game decisions that appear to be head-scratchers, yet his team is meticulously prepared prior to every game.
Tuberville still does a couple of things very well. One, perhaps no one in the league breaks down film of opponents better than Tuberville, who is a master at picking up on tendencies and exploiting them. In a 2014 game at Temple, for example, Tuberville said that his defense went into a jailbreak blitz whenever the Owls went to an empty backfield. With no back to block for P.J. Walker, he was the victim of seven sacks in that game and one of them set up a Cincinnati touchdown in a 14-6 victory.
Two, Tuberville is from the Joe Paterno School of buttering up opponents before making a tasty sandwich out of them. This week, Tuberville is calling Temple a “pro team” among other complimentary phrases. The Owls are going to have to remember that, before the 1979 team, Paterno called the Temple offensive line “the best we’ve ever faced.” Penn State won that game, 22-7.
There are a couple of things the Owls can do and one is ignore the noise and the praise coming from Tuberville and focus on what they have to do. The second thing is to mix up their tendencies so they do not telegraph their intentions.
For one, the Owls have a tendency when Isaiah Wright comes in on the Wildcat offense to line Walker up in the slot and leave him there and the play almost exclusively is a run for Wright, who ignores the pitchman. Tuberville knows that and will tell his linebackers to sell out on Wright. The Owls might be more successful on that play if Wright tosses a backward pass to Walker, who heaves the ball downfield to a wide open Ventell Bryant for six.
The Owls know what their tendencies are as well as Tuberville. A little tweak here there and to change things up might be a worthwhile game plan for Temple on Saturday afternoon against a master of breaking down film.
Sunday: Game Analysis