Joe Tresey probably occupied the hottest seat of the new coaching staff since the Bearcats returned a number of quality players from a unit that ranked #31 in the country in total defense, but the new Bearcat defensive coordinator has been more than up to the challenge.
Many Bearcat football fans were happy when Brian Kelly promised them an
attacking aggressive offense, but for Cincinnati defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, UC
fans quietly shared feelings of doubt.
After all, Tresey replaced the flamboyant and popular Pat Narduzzi, who
many supported as the next Bearcat head football coach. To make matters even worse, Tresey was
changing Narduzzi's system that earned a #31 national ranking in total
When Tresey looked at the 2006 Bearcat defense, he liked what he saw, but
there was one missing element.
Despite the lofty national ranking, Cincinnati was -6 in turnovers. Narduzzi's defense recorded 23 turnovers
in 13 games while the Bearcats coughed the ball up 29 times. Of the major defensive categories,
turnover margin was by far Cincinnati's worst national ranking. The Bearcats tied for 90th in the
country out of 119 schools.
One of the main differences in Tresey's system was for
the defensive backs and linebackers to use more zone pass coverage. Tresey believed zone coverage would
create more interceptions and was he ever right. The Bearcat defense recorded six
turnovers against SEMO and seven turnovers against Oregon State last week. Eight of those thirteen turnovers were
interceptions. That's 13 turnovers
in two games compared to 23 turnovers in thirteen games last year.
Even Coach Tresey is surprised by the defense's enormous
success in taking the ball away from its opponents. "I don't know how we've managed it, but
we'll certainly take it." He
refused to say the goal was to get eight turnovers from Miami this Saturday. "Every week we go in saying we want
three turnovers or to be +2. I tell
them three is the magic number. The
NFL did a big study over a four or five year period, and they found out that if
you were +2, you were going to win 83% of your games. Anything over that, we're tickled
After last week's game against Oregon State, some Beaver fans suggested their
six interceptions were cases of unforced errors, but Coach Tresey doesn't really
agree with that assessment. "They
have to execute just like we have to execute. Call it what you want, but we're playing
with the premise that we're going to give our kids a chance to play on the
football as much as possible. We're
always playing with vision on the football. We don't put our kids in a lot of
positions where their back is to the ball."
Coaches can't spend too much time looking back so Coach Tresey was also
asked about the quarterback situation at Miami of Ohio where sophomore
quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh replaced senior Mike Kokal last week at Minnesota. Tresey spoke to the differences between
the underclassman and the veteran.
"There's a big difference.
Kokal is more mobile. He's a
kid that will tuck it and run.
They'll run the option and the quarterback draw with him. I don't see them doing that with
Raudabaugh, but we're also not sure.
It was 28-12 and they lost (Brandon)
Murphy and (Joey) Hudson.
Maybe he (Coach Montgomery) was about to concede the game, but the kid
(Raudabaugh) came in and threw for over 200 yards and did an outstanding
The Bearcats also have a question about who they will face at running
back since Brandon Murphy suffered a knee injury late in last week's game. "Brandon Murphy is a smaller, quicker
kid. The other two kids behind him
are a little bigger but not quite as quick. But they're good backs. This is a much improved football
team. Their offensive line had
issues with injuries last year.
This year they've been able to play together. I think their running backs are very
good players. Their receivers are
young but good players. The
(Dustin) Woods kid caught a lot of balls against Ball State. They looked at him seventeen times and
he caught about nine balls. This is
a better Miami
team than last year."
Since the beginning of summer practice, Tresey has professed the strength
of the UC defense lies in its numbers.
Twenty-four defenders have already made tackles, and Coach Tresey says
that will continue. "Our philosophy
is ‘next man in.' We talked at Camp
Higher Ground, and I said we have 1A's and 1B's. We don't have a definite falloff
between a 1 and a 2. Delbert Ferguson, Jon Carpenter, Ryan Manalac, Cedric Tolbert. I can go down the list. Rob Trigg as a true freshman took
eighteen snaps last week and did a tremendous job. We have a lot of good players, and we're
going to play them."
The Miami/Cincinnati rivalry is new to most on the Bearcat coaching staff
but not new to Coach Tresey. "Being
from Ohio and having been the head coach at
four years, I understand it's big time.
I saw this game all four years when I was at Middletown and had friends
on both staffs. It's tradition at