The Cincinnati defensive goal every week is to get a minimum of three take aways. Last week against UConn the Bearcats fell short of that goal getting only one, but Coach Tresey said he was particularly pleased with one area of the Bearcat defense. "When you hold someone to 22 yards rushing on 22 carries and they're averaging 174 yards a game, that's a pretty good game. They basically won their last two football games against good football teams because they were able to run the football. To physically outplay them made it a great day."
The Cincinnati defensive front led by Anthony Hoke, Adam Hoppel, Angelo Craig, Terrill Byrd and Lamonte Nelms got a great push at the line of scrimmage all day, and there was no need for Coach Tresey to blitz. "We didn't have to pressure much. When you're getting a push with your front four, you can cover with seven, and that's a good day for you." The group collectively had six tackles for loss, three sacks and an interception.
The lone Bearcat take away came from an unlikely source, Bearcat defensive tackle Adam Hoppel, on a batted ball interception. Joe Tresey was as surprised as everyone else in Nippert Stadium about how the turnover occurred. "It was quite surprising the way that happened. I saw the ball batted and thought the ball was dead. Then all of a sudden I saw a guy carrying a bunch of people. He almost scored after carrying half their team. It was impressive."
Another Bearcat defensive lineman, Anthony Hoke, almost got a second interception later in the game. "It hit Anthony right in the chest. That was the problem," said Tresey. "Plus, #24 (Larry Taylor) was on his (Hoke's) back and working hard. He did a great job of keeping the ball from being intercepted." Hoke dropped the ball after juggling it for several steps, but the senior defensive end also recorded three sacks and three tackles for loss on the afternoon.
Both Bearcat starting defensive ends have played linebacker in their careers, and Coach Tresey believes their versatility gives his defense some flexibility. "They're both athletic and you can do a lot of things with them. The way they're playing right now with their speed and energy; it makes us very happy with them."
One of the problems for the Cincinnati scout team this week is trying to duplicate the West Virginia offensive speed, but Coach Tresey knows that's impossible to achieve on the practice field. "You can't do it with the scout team. This is week 11 and we've seen speed. South Florida had great speed. Oregon State had speed. I know this (WVU) speed is impressive, but if we show up and do what we've done the last two weeks, we have a great opportunity to win the football game."
South Florida and Connecticut were both nationally ranked when the Bearcats defeated them, but West Virginia has been consistently ranked in the Top 10 all year. Coach Tresey knows the Mountaineers present some unique problems for his defense. "They run a double option type offense. You have to play assignment football. Someone has to be responsible for the quarterback, and someone has to take the pitch if they take it out to that. They get you thinking a little bit, and then run the ball right at you. Pat White is having a stellar year. I know Slaton isn't having a great year, but he's a heck of a football player. We all know that. We just have to do our jobs and tackle. If we can do that, we like our chances."
West Virginia has turned the ball over only 14 times all season and 6 of those came in their loss to South Florida. Coach Tresey talked about that USF loss. "Pat White got hurt in the last series of the first half, and his back-up struggled too. Their center botched a couple snaps, and South Florida had them out of sync. South Florida went after them physically and played extremely fast. I don't know if they were ready for it."
As far as Coach Tresey is concerned, the goal is always to get three takeaways. "Our magic number is 3. That doesn't ever change. We were doggone disappointed last week that we didn't get three, but with them (UConn) being #13 in one poll and #16 in the other, we were pleased with the way we played overall."
If the Bearcats are to upset their fourth nationally ranked team this season, the Bearcat defense will likely have to have another outstanding game on Saturday night.
BCI/Joe Tresey Weekly Interview
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