Q. For defenses in the BCS how much of advantage is it or step ahead, to bringing those guys back and they know the system and have a year of experience under their belt?
Cincinnati Head Coach Butch Jones (photo credit: Pat Strang/513 Photography)
A. The good thing is what you were talking about is they have been in the system for year and you win with consistency and continuity. It’s like we said all winter long, all offseason long its one thing to be older but we have to be better. We have to be much more accountable for our own self’s, to our teammates. Then we have to cut down on the mental errors, and we have to play with a hard edge and toughness. I like what I have seen so far I think they are hungry, but again it’s playing through the adversity. That’s the biggest thing, the mark of any great team especially defenses is how they handle sub changes, opportunities, and adversity.
Q. Do you see signs of that growing up here already?
A. I do. I see it in the leadership. I think we are much more mature not only on defense but also as a football team. So I do see that.
Q. Every season is big, is this one in terms of the program a big one for this program? A lot of energy and money was spent into building up to filling Nippert stadium every game and you don’t want lose that momentum and take a step back?
A. I think every year is big for the program. I think that they way the Big East conference s going, its up to us to put a product on the field. We also need our fan support and we need our loyalty to come out. When you look at the great programs year in and year out they fill their stadiums, obviously we are very prideful here so we have to be great and we understand that. But it is really no different then any other year. It will be the same next year and in the 4th year and 5th year and as we continue to move on. So every year is very very important.
Q. How did you emphasize defense in the offseason after what happened last year is that something you really pushed harder to improve?
A. Well its one of the big things we did push, but its been great because we have had some people step up and provide great stability and leadership. Again you really don’t know until you are truly tested and in the first situation. Our kids have worked extremely hard and I see a lot of pride right now.
Q. Did you change anything because of that or did you say we just need another year in the system?
A. Well you are always looking to make little changes and little adjustments on how people attacked you and all that. The base is the same. The biggest thing is we could line up and concentrate more on fundamentals and all the little things that go into it because they had the base. They had the football intelligence it takes to play our defense. So now it’s the execution part of it that is going to be big.
Q. Do you have better depth there even though you might not have what you want yet is it better then last year?
A. Its better then last year but its not anywhere where we need to be in our program. We are thin at a lot of spots but we understand that. It’s our job to get the most out of every individual in our football program.
Q. Has depth improved enough to make a difference?
A. I think so when you add a Cameron Beard a Brad Harrah and Jordan Stepp will be continue to progress and some of our linebackers. Those individuals are unproven they have never taken live reps and we won’t find out until game time comes.
Q. You have 4 seniors starting on the starting depth chart so that’s huge improvement?
A. It is. Again it gets back to the maturity level and we do have some experience, we do have some individuals that’s have played in some big football games for us.
Q. You have 4 seniors plus Drew Frey he has been here like 8 years?
A. We had a senior meeting and the players were like where is Drew? We were like oh no is only a junior and that’s a good thing. Drew is one of those individuals that have really stepped up and has provided great leadership to us.
Q. They seem confident or should I say Derek Wolfe seems very confident do you like to hear that from them?
A. Oh I do and it’s a level of confidence. Like we talked about what happens when we give our first score of the year. Its how do we respond. Its great competitors the great defenses have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder. They have an edge and they have a little bit of arrogance not cockiness but arrogance about themselves.
Q. Do you see that story develop?
A. I do see that
Q. Are you happy on how practice went compared to yesterday?
A. Well I think we continue to make strides each and everyday. I thought there was some good things we improved on, but I thought we stepped back a little bit in our overall effort and the mentality of finishing plays. Obviously tomorrow will change things when we put the pads on. Every individual is in charge of their effort and that is something that we are going to coach on every snap and we need to continually get better at it.
Q. Going back to the leadership. Can you explain the difference between the leadership this year compared to last year?
A. First of all power in numbers. We have a much larger senior class. I think our players are familiar. They understand the standards and expectations. I think we have been humbled a little bit. You come in and we had won and had 2 very successful campaigns. We had a lot of individuals who may not have played a lot but they were on the football team. Some of them were able to reap the benefits of a lot of hard work and foundation that had been laid in the past. So now all of a sudden when you have a year that does meet you’re standards of expectations it should refocus everyone.