Cincinnati Football: Analyzing Another Embarrassing Blowout Loss To USF

Oct 1, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats running back Tion Green (7) carries the ball against the South Florida Bulls in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats running back Tion Green (7) carries the ball against the South Florida Bulls in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

In a must-win game to keep conference title hopes alive, Tommy Tuberville’s Bearcats again self destructed in the second half, lost by 25 points, and fell to 0-2 in AAC play.

I really don’t know where to start expressing my disappointment about this game.

For the first half, and even into the third quarter, UC was again right there with the Bulls.  Tion Green was tearing up the USF defense, the Bearcats were outgaining USF, and everything was under control.  Until it wasn’t.

Redshirt freshman Ross Trail, making just his second start at QB, fell off the wagon late in the third quarter, throwing back-to-back interceptions in UC’s own territory – the second was a Pick-Six.  And there weren’t just interceptions.  They were bad interceptions.  Both absolutely terrible throws that make you wonder what he was thinking.

The wheels fell off for UC, as USF began gashing the Bearcats on play after play, and the Bearcats coaching staff began to lose the sideline.  It went from zero to unmitigated disaster in a matter of minutes, just like it did against Houston.  And that is absolutely maddening.

The UC staff allowed its team to be undressed by Quinton Flowers on the ground, despite Flowers being wildly inaccurate on basically any ball that he threw over ten yards.  This is absolutely inexcusable.  Flowers is a glorified running back playing QB.  You had one job: don’t let him beat you with his legs.  You let him do it.  74 yards and 2 rushing TDs.  It’s so frustrating to be beaten by a team who can’t throw the ball 15 yards downfield.  UC did a nice job bottling up Marlon Mack for most of the night, only to tackle poorly and let him get loose on a long TD run that accounted for 49 of his 118 yards.

It was more of the same old Tommy Tuberville Bearcats in the second half, losing the turnover battle 4-0 after 3 Trail picks and a terrible, almost unforced fumble by Nate Cole.  UC put the nails in its own coffin again.  And only after the outcome of the game was settled did Tuberville decide to make a change at quarterback.  I don’t understand why you don’t make the change while you still have a chance to win the game.  If you’re going to bench Kiel because of discipline or whatever it is that he’s done wrong, then bench him and let Ross Trail stay out there and wear it.  If you’re going to play Kiel, then for God’s sake, play him while we still have a chance to win the game.  It was clear that Trail was on the rocks after his second pick.  He was done.  Why put in Kiel at all if he’s only going to play in garbage time?

I think that Tuberville is starting to lose this team (if he hasn’t totally lost it already).  Tubs and Kiel were caught on video having a heated exchange during the second half.  The team just doesn’t seem to care anymore about what he has to say.  This is twice in a row that they’ve had a second half meltdown in an important conference game.  And that’s only this year.  The trend of Tommy Tuberville UC teams not being ready to play is becoming alarming.

Anyone who has read this blog in the past knows that I have been a Tommy Tuberville apologists for a while.  I’ve tried to give his the benefit of the doubt.  He inherited Butch Jones’s players and a lack of depth at basically every position on defense, and still had some degree of success in his first few years in Clifton.  But now it’s getting a little ridiculous.  Time to stop giving TT a free pass.  These are all his players, he’s had the time to build his program, and the result is that UC has actually regressed.  Tuberville shared the AAC title in his first year at UC, and has since gone on to squander chance after chance to win the league with more talented teams.  Losses in four AAC conference openers in a row just won’t get the job done.

Four years ago, I thought Tubs would be a steadying force that would stop the revolving door in the UC head coaching office, but it’s starting to look like I’m wrong.  The people who call Tuberville a washed up, over-the-hill check collector look like they’re right.  Tommy has taken something that had a chance to be special for a long time and turned it into something mediocre.  I won’t say it’s ruined, because at least we’re not UConn of UCF, but it’s hard to believe that a budding program that has built over $100 Million in new football facilities in the past five years has actually lost momentum and fallen to the middle of the pack in the AAC.  If I hear Mike Bohn say “Class of the League” one more time, I may lose it.  That catchphrase is almost as big a joke as [insert one of Butch Jones’s catchphrases here], given that Tuberville is running this program into the ground.

This game might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.  My days of defending Tuberville are over.  Two huge conference games, two blowout losses after monumental implosions.  Same old Bearcats under Tubs.  I can only think of three important games that Tubs has won in his 3.5 seasons at UC: Miami (FL) in 2015, ECU in 2014, and Houston in 2014.  That’s it. Three.  In 15 chances.

Here are the rest of the 15, starting last year: Temple, loss. Memphis, loss. BYU, loss.  USF, embarrassment when expected to win.  San Diego State, embarrassment.  2014: Ohio State, blowout loss.  Memphis, blowout loss.  Miami (FL), blowout loss.  2013: Illinois, loss.  USF, bad loss.  Louisville, loss.  North Carolina, blowout.  Behind the eight ball every year at 0-4 in conference openers.

Do you notice a trend?  This is what mediocrity looks like.  Beat an FCS team, Miami (OH), 0-12 UCF, and pull out three other wins to get to bowl eligibility.  Tuberville just isn’t getting it done against good competition.  And I’m fed up with that.  Will you win every big game?  Of course not.  But 3-for-15 isn’t good enough.

The regression and the lack of any motivation to fix what’s wrong incense me.  UC was absolutely in both of it’s last two losses against Houston and USF.  Defense playing better, offense not turning it over, late in the third quarter both were tight games.  And then two meltdowns.  UC has been outscored 51-6 in the last two second halves of AAC play (Houston, USF).  That just can’t happen.

I think it’s going to be tough for Tuberville to keep his job this year.  His buddy Whit Babcock is gone and his buddy Santa Ono is gone.  There are a lot of new faces around UC, and it wouldn’t be unthinkable that those new faces want a fresh start for the program.  Who knows, maybe Tommy can turn it around and go 9-3 with losses to a Houston team that makes the playoff and a ranked USF team.  But it still won’t be a successful season, because the Bearcats will have been out of the conference title race for eight weeks.  Going 0-2 to start conference play almost makes the rest of the year irrelevant.  I said almost.  I will be there, and I hope you will be too.  But I can’t say that about this coaching staff.  They’ve worn out their welcome.  And unless the results on the field change drastically for the better, Tommy’s gotta go.