Stepp Has Been Here Before

One thing Jordan Stepp learned early in his college football career was coaches play a small role in the success of a college football program. With another coaching change in front of him, Stepp knows his role as a leader is needed now more than ever.

As one of Brian Kelly's prized recruits Indianapolis (Ind.) native Jordan Stepp watched the coach that brought him to the Cincinnati program leave for Notre Dame at the end of his first season in the program.

Now, with Butch Jones off to Tennessee, Stepp is not too worried about the future as he knows a win in the Belk Bowl comes first.

"I think this team is as close as it's even been," said Stepp. "Everybody had to come out and work as hard as they can while having fun and that is what it's all about right now. We don't have much of a coaching staff left, but the ones we do have shown they love us and care about us and we all know that.

"At the end of the day it's about the guys in the room and that is what we tell ourselves. It's nothing to us as we've been playing football all year and it's just another game that we've got to go out and do what we do."

Having already seen one head coach leave during his time in Clifton, Stepp is using his experiences to help those sitting in the same position he was just a few years ago.

"I feel for the younger guys," said Stepp. "I was a freshman when Coach (Brian) Kelly left for Notre Dame. So I know what it feels like. However, I think it's a little different this time as one of the older guys you're not so worried about the change as it's about the guys on the field that dictates the score of the game.

"It's important for us older guys to tell the freshmen it's going to be ok. This is college football and the only thing that matters is how you work in the winter, how you work in the summer and how you play in the fall. That is all that matters going forward."

When the Bearcats headed into the 2012 season many wondered how much of an impact the loss of two key members of last season's defensive line would have on this year's group. Stepp never doubted this year's group could step up and handle the challenge.

"As a whole the defensive line answered a lot of questions the media had as the loss of John Hughes and Derek Wolfe left a big spot," said Stepp. "I was in that rotation last year and not as worried about this year. I feel I had a pretty good season but guys like Camaron Beard, who played great this year and John Williams, who was a huge pickup for us have made a difference.

"The difference between this year's team and last year's team is I feel there was no drop off. We had about three squads that could go into the game. Individually, I've always felt it's not a good game unless we win and the whole group does well up front as we're all part of the dame defensive line."

As for what Stepp is expecting from Belk Bowl opponent Duke, he feels the defense will be ready.

"Duke is going to come out and try and run the ball," explained Stepp. "They've got a good quarterback who can put the ball in good spots. They are really well coached and I'm sure we're going to get their best shot just like everybody else. It's going to be a big game for us."

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