Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville and Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads have spent the better part of their lives preaching what it means to have a good defense and translate it into a championship team.
Both are currently going through the process of molding their programs to their likings and will no doubt have a little inside information on each other when their teams kickoff on Saturday.
After all, Tuberville is playing a former defensive coordinator for the second consecutive game this season.
"Kind of playing them all in one order here," Tuberville said. "Paul knows me, he knows how we prepare for a game. He'll know what to expect and I know a little bit about what they do — it's just about the personnel. But neither one of us will play. We just try to get our teams to the game and have their confidence built up."
Rhoads was Tuberville's defensive coordinator in his final season at Auburn in 2008 after spending eight years as the defensive coordinator at Pitt. He actually turned Tuberville down in 2002 for the same job but then decided to take it when Will Muschamp left to become the defensive coordinator/head coach in waiting under Mack Brown at Texas.
Rhoads returned to Iowa State (LB/DB coach, 1995-99) to take over as head coach of the Cyclones last season when Gene Chizik — another former defensive coordinator at Auburn — left Iowa State to be the head coach of the Tigers.
Quite the coaching carousel, huh?
Most who have coached under Tuberville have a lot of respect for the Tech head coach because of how he allows his assistants to run things and grow as coaches and teachers.
"Tommy does a great job of managing people and allowing people to do their job and giving them flexibility and at the same time giving them direction," Rhoads said earlier this week.
But Tuberville may have a slight upper hand on his old assistant when it comes to familiarity and what their current teams are doing. This is the first time Tuberville has used a 3-4 defense, while Rhoads continues to use a similar scheme at Iowa State like the one he implemented at Auburn under Tuberville.
"It's very similar," Tuberville said. "They're more of a four-man front. It's what we ran there the year that he was (at Auburn). They're very technique-sound, they have a lot of carry-over from last year, they don't give up a lot of big plays, they make you earn what you get and it's going to be a test for our offense."
It's also going to test Tech as whole as the Red Raiders play the first of four games in the next five weeks away from Jones AT&T Stadium. The Red Raiders will face Baylor in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl next week before returning home against Oklahoma State on Oct. 16 before heading to Colorado and Texas A&M in consecutive weeks.
"This will be a lot tougher test with a team that's solid," said Tuberville, who compared Saturday's game to Tech first road trip to New Mexico three weeks ago. "They don't make mistakes and that's the worst type of team that we can play right now because we've been shooting ourselves in the foot. We've got to play much better and when you go on the road, you have to play even better than what you would play like at home. They've got the homefield advantage and all the momentum so this will be a tough test for us."
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