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Slowing down speeds up scoreboard for Bearcats

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The Bearcats moved against the grain of college football's pace obsession to churn out one of their most dominating performances in recent history and aren't afraid to slow down as new pieces settle in. 

CINCINNATI - In the trendy hyperspace of college offense, every new coach arrives preaching speed and uptempo. Think you know fast, time to go faster. 

Sprint to the line, run the play, run another, breathing optional. 

Each new guru promises to run more plays than ever before. Eighty per game. Ninety. Heck, 100 per game. An obsession to recreate the rise of Oregon filters into every corner of college football and now even flowed down the Delaware River to the NFL. 

In a world where anyone not preaching speed appears destined to be left behind, Tommy Tuberville and Eddie Gran pumped the brakes on Saturday. Even without a huddle, the Bearcats methodically ran play after play at their own calculated pace. No sprinting to the line, no race to outsnap the opponent. 

They slowed down. And imagine that, blew out Purdue by making fewer mistakes. Ordinarily, the fact taking time leads to fewer errors wouldn't be groundbreaking analysis. In this era of college football, it sounds like a jukebox record scratch. 

"We said let's slow it down and play good technique and see if we can get the job done," Tuberville said. "I like going fast and there is reasons for that but you have to have the ability to do both and I think sometimes you can shoot yourself in the foot saying were a fast team and were going to go fast." 

Fast for the sake of fast and at the expense of efficient only means less rest for the defense. On a day when the field temperature blazed somewhere between 120 degrees and eggs over easy, ripping valuable rest time from the defense made little sense. Nor did taking valuable thought process time from a team in its first game under a new offense. 

Time of possession may be an overrated stat - as any Brian Kelly era Bearcats fan can attest - but on a day like Saturday holding the ball eight more minutes during the smoking hot second half made a drastic difference. UC wore the Boilermakers into submission not by outrunning them rather outexecuting them. 

UC committed just two penalties all day and none until late in the third quarter on a day where new coaches, new offense and overwhelming temperatures challenged every centimeter of the brain dedicated to focus. 

Actually, the one time the Bearcats decided to up the tempo was when the first penalty occurred. That didn't last long per Tuberville's directive. 

Gran emphasized the Bearcats desire is not to slow down rather have the option to execute whichever fits the moment. 

"To me it's about the game," he said. "How is the game going? How many plays has the defense been on the field? One thing I learned from coach over the years when we were in the SEC if your defense is out on the field for 10 plays the last thing you want to do is go fast and go three-and-out. You have to do whatever you can to get a first down and keep your defense off the field."

UC converted 9 of 15 third downs against the Boilermakers and much of that came on the arm of Munchie Legaux. His 65 percent completion rate ranked as his best at UC against an FBS opponent. Much thanks goes to working on his accuracy with coach Darin Hinshaw, some to Legaux's adjustments to his long throwing motion. Some just comes with the territory of growing as a senior QB. 

Yet, the decision to slow down and process the outlook at the line of scrimmage rather than dedicating every ounce of energy toward seeing how fast the play can run allowed Legaux to anticipate reads consistently. 

"We want to go fast, too, at times," Legaux said. "(Slowing down) helps you out a lot to read the coverages more post and presnap, get everyone set and aligned on the same page. It helps out a lot with communication as far through the whole offensive line and out to the receivers and running backs in the backfield." 

As the players and coaches grow in comfort of the new offense, the tempo will increase. If the situation arises to speed up, Gran plans to churn out plays with the best of the new era offenses. The advantages of keeping the defense from substituting and dictating plays instead of being dictated to can't be denied. 

Many days, though, specifically when overwhelming teams with the offensive line and long, draining drives, the Bearcats will continue to worry more about relaxing then racing. 

"There is a lot to do when you're trying to go fast you just don't say get up there and let's go," Tuberville said. "There is a huge process and you have to understand really what you're doing and you have to have experience. As we continue on in the season we will tend to go faster at times. 

"We're going to take it slow until we know what we are doing." 

By taking it slow, however, they sure look like they do. 
 

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