After success in their first two home games and disappointment mixed in with a season-ending injury in Illinois, it’s time for the UC football team to hit the road for the second time this season, although the trip will be far shorter.
UC will travel to Oxford to take on longtime rivals, the Miami Redhawks, for bragging rights and of course, the Victory Bell, which UC has been the keeper of for the past seven seasons.
UC will come into Saturday’s contest feeling much more confident about themselves after last week’s 66-9 blowout win over Northwestern State, while Miami hasn’t been competitive in either of its first two games this season — losing at Marshall (52-14) and Kentucky (41-7).
Miami typically runs an option-like attack on offense, which will lead to different defensive schemes UC head coach Tommy Tuberville and his staff will have to concoct to stop a Redhawk team eager for its first win of the season.
“It’s a different type of football team that we’re playing,” Tuberville said. “Miami is an option team, and they’ve gone with more of the Georgia Tech option — two wing backs, one full back, and a quarterback. They’re predominantly a run team, they do throw it sometimes, but are predominantly a ball control team.”
Despite the change in pace in opposing offenses, Tuberville said he’s still focused on making sure his team continues to improve.
“We need to continue to get better,” Tuberville said. “We are a team that has a lot of talent, a lot of older talent, and younger talent, but we need to keep putting this team together and play better this week as we did last week.”
Even though Miami’s option attack might be different to some Bearcat
defenders, Tuberville explained an option attack might be easier to plan, due to his defense only having to run a handful of formations.
“It’s actually easier to prepare for an offense like this because you don’t run that many fronts or coverages and you aren’t able to blitz that much and so you have to condense it down because they have only so many formations that they can run the offense out of,”Tuberville said. “We run a four man front and I think personally that’s what it takes to stop an woption offense.”
Against Northwestern State, Bearcat fans saw starting quarterback, Brendon Kay, and now backup quarterback, Bennie Coney, play well. Kay went 12-for-14 for 277 yards and 4 touchdowns while Coney went 5-for-5 in limited throwing opportunities with a touchdown pass of his own. Tuberville said both will play again this weekend.
“Bennie will play in this game no matter how the game is going,” Tuberville said. “I don’t want him to go two or three more weeks from now and put him in a tough situation. He just needs to learn mentally that he knows what he is doing and he can make plays and so Bennie might go in the second series or the fourth series. It just depends on how I feel the situation is.”
During the past season when UC and Miami got together the Bearcat offensive and defensive lines dominated the line of scrimmage, aiding the offense in racking up 272 rushing yards while only allowing Miami 59. With Redhawk quarterback, Austin Boucher, only averaging 94 passing yards per game so far, one of those numbers is going to have to give for Miami to realistically have a shot in this game.
On the flip side, Miami is allowing opponents an average of 46.5 points per game while UC is around that same pace on offense, averaging 41.7 points through their first three games. Unless Miami’s option-based attack on offense can dominate time of possession, the Bearcat offense will be looking to put on their second clinic in a row and retain the Victory Bell once again.
Tuberville said he is treating this week a little bit differently since it is a rivalry game; allowing his players to speak about what this rivalry, and the Victory Bell, mean to this program as well as hoping the players and fans find the rivalry to be “fun.”
“We’ll have a team meeting where we’ll talk about the Victory Bell,” Tuberville said. “We’ll have a couple guys stand up and talk about what it means, and what it’s meant to them since they’ve been here, obviously mostly seniors. Rivalries are for alumni, former players and fans to talk about. They’re always great and that’s what makes college football fun.”
The fun will kickoff at 4 p.m. at Miami’s Yager Stadium. The game will be streamed lived online at ESPN3.