After suffering their first two losses of the season on the road to NCAA FBS Presbyterian and NAIA No. 12 Georgetown, Cumberland is back at Nokes-Lasater Field following three straight on the road to face second-year Cincinnati Christian at 1:30 p.m.
“It feels good not to have to ride on a bus,” Cumberland co-offensive coordinator Brad Bustle said. “I think we are excited about being home.”
The Eagles, coached by former Cincinnati Bengals safety David Fulcher, are 0-5 for the season following a 56-7 loss to No. 6 Lindsey Wilson last week.
“They’re going to give you a lot of different stunts, blitzes,” Cumberland co-offensive coordinator Brad Bustle said of the Eagles’ defense. “They have good size. They play really hard. I think they’re pretty young. But they’re sound with the blitzes they give you that can cause a little bit of error in the passing protection and running games.
“I haven’t looked at their offense much, except I saw they have a 6-9 tackle.”
Though the 4-2 Phoenix have lost their last two, Bustle’s (and co-coordinator Nathan Luce’s) offense is averaging 31.7 points per game while opponents are scoring at a 27.0 clip per week.
“All season it’s been a pattern,” Bustle said. “We either start off quickly and start to slow down or start off a little slow and pick up. We’ve had quarters where we scored 21 in one quarter and we have times when we score zero in a quarter. That’s the biggest thing we’ve been trying to work on is consistency throughout a game, being able to move the ball.”
Starting quarterback Dezmon Huntley twisted his ankle at Georgetown. Joseph Rushin, who normally gets spot plays in short-yardage situations, came in and completed 14 of 25 passes for 304 yard and a pair of touchdowns. He added a rushing score in his usual role.
“It was like ‘let’s go with the hot hand for now and if we need Dez, obviously he’s ready to roll’,” Bustle said. “They’ll both be available this week. We’re not quite sure yet exactly, I think we’re going to maybe start with Rushin first just to see how that goes and see how Dez’s ankle is feeling … I don’t know yet.
“(Rushin) can do it all. He’s gotten a lot better at throwing the ball, which is exciting for us. He’s a hard runner. He’s been able to do his reads in the passing game a lot better. He’s gotten confident in that.”
Protecting the quarterbacks will be a line with veteran center Chandler Peeples back in the lineup from injury. His backup, Remington Tyler, is out with a back injury.
“I’ve been able to rotate guys in and out all season anyway,” Bustle said. “There’s not going to be a huge drop off.”