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Luallen’s Ready When Needed

With most of last week’s postgame talk centered around Munchie Legaux and Brendon Kay, it was easy for many Cincinnati football fans to overlook the contributions of Jordan Luallen, but the Georgia Tech transfer definitely provided a spark in the second quarter when he lead the UC offense to three straight first downs. After Tuesday’s practice, Bearcat Lair spoke with the versatile athlete.

“It was great,” he smiled. “It was great to get a few snaps in a row and get into a groove. So far this season, I’ve had segmented plays one by one, and it was nice to have a string of plays and get into the flow. It was exciting.”

Luallen rushed six times for 32 yards and completed his only pass for an additional 14 yards. The redshirt junior hadn’t thrown a pass in almost a year, but Syracuse fans might remember that performance. On November 23, 2011, Luallen ran for 77 yards and completed 2 of this 3 passes in helping the Bearcats defeat the Orange 30-13.

The change of pace quarterback said the success he enjoyed on Saturday may have been a byproduct of some disappointing appearances earlier this season against Miami, Fordham and Toledo (a combined five carries for 11 yards).

“I think in the past I was a little too quick and pressing a little bit,” said Luallen. “On Saturday, I was able to get a first down on the first play, and it slowed everything down for me.”

After playing receiver in the spring, Luallen moved to linebacker at the start of training camp, but that experiment lasted less than a week. The former Indiana all-state quarterback returned to receiver but still dabbled at quarterback. Those kinds of changes could play havoc on many a young man’s psyche, but this mature almost 22-year-old’s (his birthday is November 15) resolve never wavered.

“It was frustrating at first because I was trying to get settled into something, but the biggest thing I did about it was talking to my dad and praying a lot about it. I have a calling on this team in some capacity even if it’s just to bring excitement to the sidelines and make sure everyone is into the game.”
Luallen continued, “I taken it upon myself to be constantly lifting and keeping myself prepared with a positive mind set at practice. I’m trying to make myself the best I can be in case my number is called. I want to be ready.”

Even though Luallen’s value is primarily in his ability to run the football, he knows he also has to be a capable passer, and his completion on Saturday did a lot for his confidence.

“It was important,” said Luallen. “It also said that Coach Jake (Bajakian- offensive coordinator) believes in me. It may have seemed simple to the average football fan, but we had edge pressure on that play so I had to pull out of the fake and get to the hot read right away. If they’re willing to trust me like that, it means a lot to me. My being able to throw the football gets the defense off its toes coming downhill so hard.”

Last Saturday afternoon, some Bearcat fans exercised their right to boo. Luallen was asked for his reaction to being booed on his home field.

“It’s ugly,” he grimaced. “That’s the best way I can put it. We come out here every day working our butts off, and we put in a lot of time in the offseason. Nobody wants to go on the field and have his fans boo him. Everyone struggles at one time or another, but the key is having people behind you that support you 100%. We have guys on this team that truly love each other, and it stinks that we have to be subjected to that by some of our own fans.”

Even though Luallen didn’t start his college career in Cincinnati, he now knows where he belongs.

“I maybe didn’t have my priorities straight when I first chose a college, but when I decided to come here, I knew exactly what I wanted. It doesn’t matter how much playing time I do or don’t get, I came here for the right reason. I came here for the family values, the coaches and to get my degree. I’m going to be successful the rest of my life. I’m surrounded by great people, and the coaches really care about us.”

Luallen continued, “You’re out here enough. You know this is truly a family. In the three years I’ve been here, this is the closest a team has been. I have great friends on this team, and that’s why it’s so easy for me to keep a great attitude.”

The redshirt junior admits that this team isn’t supremely talented, but it’s used a blue collar attitude to keep itself in every game.

“We’re not giving up on anything,” he glared. “We had two league losses last year and almost won the league. We’ve set a standard where people expect us to win, but a 6-2 record is nothing to scoff at. We’ve got two tough road losses to two Top 25 teams, but we’re going to keep playing hard. It came down to the wire in both games. We’re a blue collar team, and everyone will do whatever they can to help us win.”

The next obstacle for Cincinnati is Temple, and Luallen knows leaving Philadelphia with a win on Saturday won’t be easy.

“It’s tough to win on the road,” he said. “I don’t care who you play. But if we continue to approach every game the way we have so far this season, we’ll be successful.”

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