Joe Tresey Talks Defense

Only one practice has been completed so there's still a very long way to go, but Bearcat Insider spoke with Cincinnati's defensive coordinator, Joe Tresey, to get his views on a variety of topics.

It was oppressively hot on Friday afternoon, but Bearcat defensive coordinator, Joe Tresey, is apparently used to that kind of weather. He mentioned prior to practice that the 90+ degree temperatures on Carson Field were mild compared to his two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Georgia Southern, but that didn't make me or any of the 105 UC players any cooler during the first football practice of the 2007 season.

Summer practice always brings a few position surprises, and the 2007 season didn't disappoint. Anthony Williams saw some time at safety on Friday. Williams actually came to Cincinnati as a 190 pound strong safety in 2003, but after redshirting, Anthony was moved to linebacker and was second on the squad in tackles as a sophomore. Now the experienced senior may return to his old position. Coach Tresey explained the thinking. "We've decided to give him the opportunity to play some safety. It's a day to day evaluation to see how he progresses." Anthony is listed at 205 pounds so he won't necessarily need to lose any weight if the experiment becomes a permanent move. "He's in pretty good shape. It's just a matter now of his getting reps and seeing if he can make the transition."

Another position switch involved Torry Cornett moving from linebacker to defensive end. "Torry right now is around 240 and has good height (6' 2"). He runs well and we just felt with the way Paul (Longo) made such great advances with our kids that Torry Cornett has a perfect body for that position. He's a big guy that can run."

Although Coach Tresey has three starters along his front line returning, he lost the talent and experience of defensive end Trevor Anderson, who chose to transfer, but fortunately, Coach has some talented candidates waiting for an opportunity. When asked about the possibly of platooning Angelo Craig and LaMonte Nelms at Anderson's old spot, Tresey replied. "You have to be two deep in the defensive line. You have to alternate during the game. It's just a must any more. We're looking for two deep across the entire front; eight guys who can play."

One of the surprise positional moves in the offseason was taking Marcus Waugh (5' 10"/250), an ex-fullback, and putting his hand in the dirt at defensive tackle. If Marcus would work his way into playing next to Terrill Byrd (6'/270), they might make the shortest tandem of defensive tackles in Division IA football. Tresey couldn't suppress a smile when visualizing that thought. "I told Keith (Gilmore), ‘He's shorter than Byrd.' And Keith said, ‘Only by about a half inch.'" Tresey went on to praise Waugh. "He's a try hard guy. He hustles, and we're trying to find a spot for him on this team. He's a great kid, and it's important to him. It's like Coach Kelly says. ‘If it's not important to you, you're not going to win a championship.' But it's only been one practice, and we'll need to take some time to evaluate."

The Bearcat defensive coordinator has a nice battle brewing at free safety with Aaron Webster and Cedric Tolbert, and Haruki Nakamura has mentioned to Bearcat Insider that he'd like a crack at playing some cornerback this season. Coach Tresey didn't think much of the idea. "Right now, we don't see that happening, but it's a long season and you never know. Kerry (Coombs) and I were talking today, and we really liked the way Jason Whitehead played at corner today along with Brad Jones as back-ups. We really think with DeLo Smith (DeAngelo Smith), Mick (Mike Mickens), Brad Jones and if Whitehead can continue coming along, we feel good about our two deep situation at corner."

DeAngelo Smith mentioned to Bearcat Insider last week that he'd like to try and play both ways in 2007, but he apparently hasn't worked up the courage to discuss it with his defensive coordinator. "He obviously likes you so he's talking to you about that. I haven't heard anything about that. He better just worry about defense."

The star of this defense as it heads into 2007 is Terrill Byrd, but the 1-st team all-Big East performer didn't post eye popping numbers last season with only 31 stops, good enough for 11-th on the team. Coach Tresey explained why. "Terrill, a lot of the time, takes up two blockers. When you play the one technique, you often get caught up with the center and guard especially in this day and age with the zone play being so prevalent in college ball. Terrill does a good job of pressing the line of scrimmage. You don't see it as fans, but he keeps the center and guard tied up, and that frees up linebackers. Plus, he's always pressing the issue; the line of scrimmage is always moving forward."

As practice continues, Bearcat Insider will be on hand to give our members the very best Bearcat football coverage.

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