TAMPA — Trying to make heads or tails of why the Bucs defer to the second half when they win the coin toss?
Coach Jon Gruden says there are several reasons: His background in college football tells him to stick with the traditional approach, and he believes his defense will create good field position.
"There's so many decisions that you have to make. Unfortunately, now, that's another one they've added to the repertoire," Gruden said. "I'll just say at times, I use a hunch. Okay? I do like the tradition, that's pretty well established in college football, if you win the toss, you basically keep the ball for the second half. But you take everything into account."
Of course, deferring the kickoff hasn't always worked in the Bucs' favor.
After the Bucs won the toss and elected to kick off at New Orleans, the Saints drove for a touchdown. The Packers produced a score on their first possession. Last week at Denver, the Bucs defense held, and Tampa Bay took over at its own 31-yard line before going three and out.
"We have a very good defensive team. We have an opportunity to get a quick stop and create field position," Gruden said. "It hasn't worked out all the time that way. But I'm very confident in both sides of the ball. But I'm kind of a traditionalist, I guess. I came up in college football, and unfortunately, that sometimes registers with me. But I do put some thought into that. The weather conditions, the opponent we're playing. Again, I'm really confident in our defense, and I try to create some field position with the assumption maybe we can get three and out."
Will the Bucs make the same move today if they win the toss against Carolina?
"I don't know. I sleep on it the night before the game and meet with a few guys," Gruden said. "We might change it up here and there."
Changes coming?: RT Jeremy Trueblood needs to play a penalty-free game today. Trueblood has been a solid performer the past three seasons, but Gruden has sounded the warning bell that jobs could be lost over drawing flags. Remember, Jeremy Zuttah and Arron Sears played tackle in college.
"They're not exclusively false starts, although the last two games, we've had seven or eight false start penalties, which is uncharacteristic, inexcusable and unacceptable," Gruden said. "It's a lack of concentration. We've got enough plays, we have enough practice time, it's got to be cleaned up or we'll have to make some changes in our lineup. Not to be disrespectful to anyone, but that's fundamental. That's a discipline that you have to have to play in pro football."
Feel the heat: No, not the Rays slogan. Temperatures soared into the upper 80s on Friday as the Bucs essentially concluded their week of practice. The forecast calls for more of the same today, with high humidity.
As the calendar flips to mid October and the Bucs are still battling dehydration during the week, it's clear the heat is not a home-team advantage.
"I keep hearing it's an advantage, but over the years, if you just go back and look at it, the Buccaneers have sometimes struggled coming out of the chute," Gruden said. "Maybe sometimes it's because of having training camp in the heat and practicing in the heat. You know, there's a reason why people have air conditioners."