Cardinal defense preparing for tough challenge

When the Cardinals take to the field against Miami (OH) in the GMAC Bowl, the defense will face the nation's 4th-rated offense. ITV visited with Mike Gillhamer, Reggie Johnson and Joe Whitt Jr. and talked about the tough challenge.

Inside theVille recently caught up with Mike Gillhamer, the Cardinals defensive coordinator, as well as defensive line coach Reggie Johnson and defensive backs coach Joe Whitt Jr., as the team was preparing for their bowl game against Miami of Ohio.

Coach Mike Gillhamer

ITV: After watching Miami's offense on film, would you say that they are the toughest offense that you have seen this season?

Coach Gillhamer (ITV)
Coach Mike Gillhamer: Yeah, I would. Their quarterback is really good, their running back is good and they have a real good scheme. They have great play action, so we'll have to stop the run when they go to two tight ends.

ITV: How would you describe their offense?

Coach Gillhamer: It's not that they do a whole bunch of different things, but what they do, they do real well.

ITV: Will there be a few formations that Miami may not have seen on film?

Coach Gillhamer: With every game we try to do that. We look at what they do and try to fit in something new and something that we do that we feel will work. With every game plan we always try to have something that we try and do different.

ITV: The defense seemed to struggle at the end of season.

Coach Gillhamer: The last three offenses that we faced had more of a wide open, basketball on grass type of deal and sometimes that's hurt us a little bit, because they make you put athlete on athlete.

ITV: Miami is known for having success on big plays, what will the defense focus on to slow that momentum?

Coach Gillhamer: We'll try to cause turnovers and make them earn something and not give them that big play. When you watch them, even in their last game against Bowling Green, they had a lot of big plays, so we will try to eliminate those. The way their offense is set up is for the big plays.

Coach Reggie Johnson

ITV: How would you describe the Miami offense?

Coach Johnson (ITV)
Coach Reggie Johnson: They're pretty good, which pretty much sums it up. They are well coached and play hard.

ITV: What about their quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger?

Coach Johnson: Their quarterback is a phenominal player. We'll have our hands full up front, so we'll have to find a way to get pressure on him. It's going to up to Marcus Jones and Elvis Dumervil and all the guys on the side to make some plays up front.

ITV: As you prepare, are there any new wrinkles that you may add to the defensive line?

Coach Johnson: We've gone back and looked at a lot of things that we do well. We'll try to stick to with those things, as well as try to polish up a few other things. We feel good about our game plan. It's just a matter of going out and executing and making the plays when you have an opportunity to do so.

Coach Joe Whitt Jr.

ITV: What about Miami's it the best you've seen this season on film?

Coaches Whitt & Gillhamer (ITV)
Coach Joe Whitt, Jr.: By far this is the best quarterback that we'll face and one of the best receivers that we're going to face.

ITV: The defense has had a rough time over the past few games.

Coach Whitt: The past couple weeks we've definately given up a few more points than we'd like, but at the same time we have done a lot things well. We just need to find a way to keep capitalizing on the good things that we are doing.

ITV: How do feel the secondary will matchup against Miami's receivers?

Coach Whitt: We should match up with these guys pretty good. They don't try to out formation you, but what they do real well is they are real well coached. They know what they want to do and they go and do it without trying to trick or fool you. They are very disciplined.

ITV: Their tight end is involved in the passing attack quite a bit.

Coach Whitt: He's a great tight end. He runs good routes. He runs his routes just as good as most receivers. He's a real threat.

ITV: Their quarterback hasn't been sacked much this season and gets plenty of time to throw.

Coach Whitt: Their quarterback doesn't make mistakes. He's been able to set back there, take his time and make good throws.

ITV: The secondary appears to be getting more involved with the blitz packages, will that continue for the bowl game?

Coach Whitt: We like to bring everybody and keep the quarterback guessing. We'll bring the corners, the safties and the linebackers...drop linemen. That's what we like to do. We just have to get there now and hit that quarterback.

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