BCI's Weekly Conversation with Coach Tresey

The Bearcat Insider's weekly interview with Cincinnati defensive coordinator, Joe Tresey, had been the precursor to a UC victory until last Saturday night's game against West Virginia. Nevertheless, we continued the ritual after the recent loss and spoke about the Mountaineers, Syracuse, parity in college football and bowl possibilities.

Even though the victory streak was broken last week with Cincinnati's loss to West Virginia, Bearcat Insider again spoke with Bearcat defensive coordinator, Joe Tresey, after Tuesday's practice.

Coach Tresey spoke about the recent loss with some optimism. "We were very close, and after we looked at it three times (once with staff, once individually, once as a team), it was disheartening. We obviously didn't do a good enough job on first down. They got some yardage on first down that hurt us, but our kids played so hard. They played until the end and got those turnovers. The one (turnover) was basically a gift, but I also believe Terrill Byrd was working that center during the entire game, and his presence may have affected that bad snap to Pat White. Later, Byrd stripped Pat of the ball. We were in position to make plays but just missed them. The big thing is we're learning that we're closing the gap. Our kids are learning how to win a championship."

One of the weekly goals of the Bearcat defense is to get three takeaways a game, and they achieved that last Saturday. Coach Tresey explained the reason for wanting three take aways. "I think the NFL did a study on that, and I think it's like 80 or 90 percent of the time a team wins when it gets three or more turnovers. I told the kids that we got caught in the bad 10 percent."

Other than an afternoon at Heinz Field against Pittsburgh, the Bearcats have done an excellent job of stopping the better running backs they have faced, but just like the Panthers, West Virginia had two players rush for over 100 yards. Pat White proved impossible to catch with 155 yards, and Steve Slaton contributed another 103 yards on the gorund. Coach Tresey thinks individually they can be stopped, but together they make it awfully tough on any defense. "That was it. When you have two of them in the backfield, it's tough. We overpursued Slaton a couple times, but he was good enough to cut back and get some yards. Their longest run of the night was 17 yards. Rarely do they not rip off a 50 or 60 yarder so it shows our kids pursued very well. That early pass to Slaton for about 32 yards was a new wrinkle. We hadn't seen it. They had four or five wrinkles we hadn't seen. They weren't adjustments but a whole new look. We told our kids if they are doing that, they respect us and understand that they need to bring their ‘A' game to beat us."

This Saturday West Virginia plays Connecticut for the BIG EAST championship. Coach Tresey was asked to handicap the game. "I'd say West Virginia, but UConn has played very well this year. The reasons I like West Virginia are they are playing in Morgantown, and they still have a chance to play for the national championship. Although I'm picking West Virginia, I think it will be a battle."

Coach Tresey continued talking about the parity in college football. "I don't think the landscape of college football will change much from here on out. I think parity has finally hit. You have teams like us, Kansas, Connecticut, and South Florida emerging, and people will have to contend with us now. I think kids will be more apt to look at our schools, and the playing field will continue to level out."

Coach Tresey gave a thumbnail scouting report on Syracuse. "They've been behind so often this year that they've had to throw the ball 66% of the time and run it only 33% of the time. They don't have much of a running game right now. They're averaging in the high 60's (69.8 yards a game). They've struggled to find an identity. Their best running back got hurt early (Curtis Brinkley). Their back-up has done a good job, but when you lose football games, you can't hang your hat on anything. On the other hand, you know anything can happen on any given Saturday, especially this year. We told our kids this is our first chance to get 9 wins since 1953 and a chance to go to a good bowl game as a reward."

Coach Tresey also spoke about the upswing in recruiting. "I think we've had a few kids recently coming to our games that have multiple BCS offers and are very interested in us. No way they would have been interested in week 1 or week 2."

Finally, we talked about the bowl possibilities. "The Sun Bowl can take whoever they want from the BIG EAST. We're hoping that we go to the Sun Bowl. It's one of the oldest bowls and on CBS on December 31. I think it's the only bowl game that day, and you're going to play a heck of a PAC 10 team. If we don't go to the Sun Bowl, we'll be glad to go somewhere else."

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