In the immediate aftermath of a disappointing 26-20 loss at USF on Saturday, head coach Tommy Tuberville sounded exasperated in our radio postgame interview with sideline reporter Tom Gelehrter.
"You can't give away 14 points on the road and win -
I don't care who you're playing," said Tuberville on 700 WLW. "We knocked their running back out, we
knocked their quarterback out and we still struggled."
The Bulls entered the game 0-4 and lost quarterback Steven Bench after one pass. They lost the nation's 10th-leading rusher, Marcus Shaw, after 9 carries. But USF didn't need an offensive touchdown against UC, scoring on a 75-yard TD return of a blocked field goal and a 10-yard fumble return.
"You just can't do that," said Tuberville. "I don't care how many games they've won or how they're playing; we gave them all the incentive they needed. When you're playing on the road, we just opened up a can of whoop-tail when we gave them 14 points."
Combine those touchdowns with four field goals and it was enough to beat a Cincinnati offense that sputtered to gain 162 yards in the first three quarters before erupting for 188 yards and a pair of TD passes in the fourth.
We had 86 yards of offense in the first half," said Tuberville. "You're not going to win any games - I mean any games - if you don't play better than that on offense.
"We're going to have to get much better to have the opportunity to win games. We have to get physical and we have to block somebody. That's the number one thing that we have to get better at. We're not doing a great job at the point of attack in our running game."
That was especially telling during a key sequence midway through the third quarter. The Bearcats had a second-and-one at the USF 9-yard line and could not pick up the necessary yard on three running plays.
"You've got to be able to get a yard," said Tuberville. "We had them coming through gaps and we were turning people loose. We made some changes on the offensive line during the game and got a little bit better, but we have to be more physical up front. If you can't get a yard in three downs then something is wrong."
Brendon Kay gave Cincinnati a chance to rally from a 26-6 deficit by going 11-for-14 with 145 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
"I'm proud of Brendon," said Tuberville. "I didn't think he'd play in the second half. He took a late hit and really got bruised up in the sternum. We thought about pulling him out, but he wanted to play and he played his heart out in the second half.
"He played his tail off. He ran for his life, he threw on the run, and we're just not giving him much protection. And we have to be able to run the ball a little bit better."
And while the Bearcats struggles on offense began up front, Coach Tuberville says the responsibility for the loss begins with him.
"We have to do a better job of coaching," he said.
I'd love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net
If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard
And I'm on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1