No one on Cincinnati's football staff has the coaching resume of Ted Gill. The 1973 Idaho State graduate has 31 seasons of college and professional coaching experience. Of those 31 years, 28 have been with the defensive line. When Coach Gill is excited about his guys, there's reason for all Bearcat fans to rejoice, and Coach Gill is very excited about this year's crop of defensive linemen.
Last year Coach Gill felt the Bearcats were deep at defensive tackle and defensive end, but with the addition of some talented freshmen this year, he believes the 2006 group is even deeper. "I'm excited even though it's the first day because the guys seem to pick-up things quick. That's important because if a guy can pick-up the little things quickly, then he can probably play a lot quicker. I'm excited about Ricardo Matthews. What he brings to us is some pretty elite athletic ability at that position, and he's eager to learn. Curtis Young is another guy that gives us some athletic ability, but he's been out of football for a while so he also eager to learn. The other guy is Chris Harrison who gives us some things inside. He's got a lot of ability. He just needs to get used to the system. Once those guys start to learn what we ask them to do, we'll be okay. Ralston Reeves is a guy that's injured, and we're looking forward to getting him out here too. It gives us some guys that can help us this year, but if not, it would be a blessing to redshirt someone. That would be a good thing."
Looking to display depth at the very first practice of the season, Coach Gill was already running players in and out during the two minute drill against the offense. No other position was seeing such frequent and drastic personnel changes. Coach Gill believes that's exactly how it will be in the games too. "I'm one of those guys that likes to play a lot of guys. If you can get a lot of guys playing, that helps the morale in practice and makes everyone better. That also gives guys an incentive to get better since they know they'll get a chance to play in the games."
How deep can the Bearcats go at these positions? "You can be deeper if you can get guys that can play both inside and outside, and Curtis (Young) can play both inside and outside. The other guy that gives us that opportunity is Ricardo Matthews. That can give us depth in itself, but if you can get two guys with a third guy that can play both inside and outside, that'll give you great depth. We've never had that situation here before."
The Bearcat coaching staff has raved about Terrill Byrd and the job he did last season even though the freshman defensive lineman recorded just 22 stops in 11 games. Coach Gill explained the reasons for the high praise. "In the middle, you have to have a guy that's real strong and active. Most of the plays that people ran against us were plays that bounced to the outside because of what Terrill did. Terrill does such a good job of clogging up the middle. He really caught on to that in the middle of the season so he's still learning and eager to get better. Now when he sees the film, he says, ‘I know I can do better.' I think we‘ll be able to get him to a different level this year."
Tony Carvitti and Adam Hoppel are two defensive tackles that had good springs. Coach Gill talked about them. "It's funny because you go out and try to find a guy 6' 9"/300 pounds that can run a 4.5, and you have to work with them for a long time to get them to that point. You look at those two guys, and they don't have all the things that you like statistically. But they do make plays and have a big heart which is a tribute to those guys. Their hard work rubs off on other guys so they give us some great things."
Trevor Anderson and Anthony Hoke are playmakers that are currently penciled in as the starting defensive ends. Coach Gill shared some thoughts about them. "I want those guys to put a lot of pressure on offensive linemen. I have told them that they're better athletes than most offensive linemen. Our goal is to get offensive linemen to cross their feet. If we can get them to cross their feet, those lineman are out of their element and have to chase us. We'll win that battle most of the time. Those two guys give us great athleticism on the outside."
Coach Gill has been at the University of Cincinnati longer than anyone else on the staff, and he feels there's never been a better time to recruit quality athletes. "No doubt this is the best. I've been in three offices since I've come here (2003). This by far is the best and gives us the opportunity to recruit against the best and bring our program to the level of everyone else in the Big East."