Tuberville Stresses Importance of Belk Bowl

The first Belk Bowl practice was important for more than just getting ready to beat North Carolina according to Bearcats head coach Tommy Tuberville.

Veteran head coach Tommy Tuberville fully understands the importance of getting those few extra days of practice when your team is headed to a bowl game.

Saturday started the work towards Cincinnati taking on North Carolina in their second consecutive Belk Bowl appearance the work towards the spring.

"We kind of eased through it (practice) as we've got recruits here," said Tuberville. "We wanted them to see what we do in practice and we also wanted to get started back on game preparation as I want to get six real good practices, not including today, before we leave for the bowl site. Then we'll get four there. We'll get ten and to me that is plenty."

Belk Bowl practice one saw the return of a few players who missed this season due to injuries and made Tuberville excited to get guys time before they return for spring practice.

"Today we had some guys back out here," he said. "Kyle Williamson who had surgery is back out working now. He won't play as he redshirted. Lindsay Crook, the Australian, was back out for the first time since his knee surgery. Tshumbi (Johnson) was out here, so we're starting to get a few guys back healthy as we really need them in spring practice.

"We're going to do six practices where we really grind all the young guys that are not going to play. That will give us a good head start on spring practice.

"We want to get them in the right position and teach them basic things we want them to learn and do a lot of individual stuff with them. So it's pretty important we have a good idea where we want to put guys in spring practice before we start and that is a huge advantage when you have a bowl game to be able to do that."

While the Bearcats first year head coach knows his team could have earned a higher level bowl appearance, he's excited about returning to the Belk Bowl.

"We're excited about going back to the Belk Bowl," stressed the head coach. "I went last year and they do a great job of putting the game on for the players with a lot of outside activities. And it's close enough where a lot of our fans can go. We're just glad to be going and playing against a good quality opponent."

With the game being against ACC team North Carolina, Tuberville also sees a chance for the Bearcats to again show why Cincinnati's football program needs to be looked at by one of the Big Five conferences in the near future.

"We've got a good football team and a good football program," he said. "This will be a national televised game and will be the only game on at that time. We're the middle game of three games on ESPN that day and it will be a good window for us. I think its 3:30 eastern time, so a lot of people will be able to see it and it's during the holiday break."

But there is also another reason Tuberville likes the thought about playing in the Belk Bowl.

"We get to go early and it's an early enough bowl game were our guys get a little time off," said Tuberville. "You get a little bit concerned because we start school around here a lot earlier than everybody else. So, our guys will get a week off after we play the game."

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