Coach Tresey Cools Down Hot Seat

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 defense.


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 pink." 


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 job."


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 Middletown for 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 its finest."

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