Bearcat Insider started the season with a weekly interview of Bearcat defensive coordinator, Joe Tresey. At that point, the Cincinnati defense was getting turnovers at an alarming rate, but circumstances prevented us from continuing with the weekly interviews. Last week we revived the loose tradition after UC could get only one takeaway in the two losses to Louisville and Pitt. Low and behold, the Bearcats tied a school record getting eight turnovers last Saturday in Tampa. Superstition dictated that we continue talking with Coach Tresey this week.
We had to start our dialogue with the incredible eight turnover performance last Saturday. Coach Tresey was just shaking his head disbelievingly as he spoke. "Our kids caused them. We had three very legitimate strips, and we attacked the football on the interceptions. We played very well when it came to turnovers, and our kids kept playing until the very end."
There was only one difference in last week's preparation according to Coach Tresey. "We discussed that we hadn't had turnovers in the last two weeks. We're a turnover defense, and we talked a lot about it in the bye week and of course also last week. The talks hit home."
Coach Tresey was very impressed with USF's team speed. "They have some really fast kids. There one wideout #2 (Carlton Mitchell) was the fastest kid we've seen this year. They're really good and have a lot of skill. They're just a good football team."
Only three schools in the country (Florida Atlantic, Georgia and Iowa) have turned the ball over less than the Huskies, who have only ten turnovers in nine games. Coach Tresey knows this Saturday will present another huge challenge for his defense. "They do a really good job of managing the football game. They're going to run the ball on second and long and even third and long on occasion, but they try to get the situation manageable. If they don't get the first down, they're content to punt the football because they're playing great defense. They rely on their defense, and I think their kickoff return team is #1 in the country. (UConn is #18 nationally) They're very sound fundamentally and don't beat themselves."
Coach Tresey compared quarterbacks-Matt Grothe to the lesser known Tyler Lorenzen. "He's (Lorenzen) not as athletic, but he's very deceiving with his speed. He's just a bigger stouter kid than Grothe. He's about 6' 4" and 230 something pounds. He's a big kid."
Connecticut is averaging 175 yards a game on the ground and has used two redshirt sophomore running backs, Donald Brown and Andre Dixon. "They play the hottest hand," said Tresey. "Two weeks ago it was Dixon, but last week it was Brown. I think whoever is pulling the load for them will be the one they will go with. If no one stands out, they'll use both."
Last Saturday, Ryan Manalac intercepted a pass late in the USF game, but the replay official overturned the play. It would have given the Bearcats a ninth turnover and a single game record outright. Coach Tresey thought the pick should have counted. "They showed it on the scoreboard screen for a second, and it looked like it may have hit the ground. But from our video, you can't tell for sure. I thought the replay had to be conclusive evidence to overturn the ruling on the field, and I didn't see it. That was a heck of a play too."
One of the minor changes last week was Coach Tresey was on the sideline instead of being upstairs in the booth. He explained the thinking. "Coach Kelly put me on the field after we had a staff meeting. He can get to me quicker that way, and we can discuss things in person. It cleaned things up for him quite a bit."
Coach Tresey said Saturday's game was unique. "It was one of the wildest games I've ever been associated with as a player or a coach. There were so many sudden changes that occurred in that game."
Whatever happens this Saturday in Nippert Stadium, Coach Tresey believes the Huskies have earned their lofty ranking. "They're very deserving of their ranking. They have one loss by one point to Virginia, and I think Virginia only has a loss or two." (Virginia's record is 8-2). Coach Tresey continued. "We've got our hands full, but we are at the Nip, and our kids love playing at the Nip. I hope we'll have another sellout crowd, and the crowd's energy will be with us."
Even though this is his first exposure to the BIG EAST, Coach Tresey believes it's one of the top two conferences in America. "This league this year is probably as good as anybody except maybe the SEC. If you look at the Pac 10, Big Ten, or Big 12 from top to bottom, I don't think they have the competition that this league offers every week. Even if you look at Syracuse, they've lost a lot of close games. They're not as bad as their record indicates. You have six teams in an eight team league that have been ranked this season. I don't think many leagues can top that."
Tresey Prepares UC Defense for UConn
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