On Tuesday, Cincinnati Bearcats Head Coach Butch Jones met with members of the media for the first time in over a week.
After enjoying last week’s bye week, and taking the opportunity to sit back, relax, and check out a few other teams’ games, coach Jones was excited to get into a new week and get his own players back on the field.
Jones was also excited to see the bye week, which provided media and fans alike with plenty of opportunities to shift their focus to the ongoing conference realignment saga, put in the past in favor of more significant topics, such as their opponent this Saturday – the Louisville Cardinals.
Jones talks Cardinals
The Cardinals, despite their 2-3 record, are a team that no one, especially Butch Jones, is looking past, thanks in large part to the strong play of their defense.
“When you look at them, you think defense right away,” said Butch Jones. “You know, 2.3 yards per rush, number 1 in the BIG EAST in total defense, 16th in the country, second in scoring defense with 16.2 points per game; very aggressive, very physical football team, very athletic.”
But despite those strong defensive efforts, the Cardinals still find themselves in possession of a losing record as they near the midpoint of their season.
“When you look at it, they have hurt themselves,” said Jones when asked about the Cardinals subpar performance thus far. “A lot of it has been self inflicted things. When you look at them on film, they are extremely capable, and they are very talented with great speed. When you have to prepare for two quarterbacks in (Will) Stein and (Teddy) Bridgewater, I think that presents challenges to your defense. I think there offense continues to evolve.”
The Cardinals also feature a group of dangerous wide receivers that are capable of torching any defense in the blink of an eye. On the other side, tackling has been an issue at times this season, as shown in the Bearcats game against North Carolina State earlier this year.
But that isn’t the only group that worries Butch Jones.
“You look at their receivers, they can take the ball and they catch a five yard play and turn it into a 35 yard play,” said Jones. “We have to do a great job at tackling.
“You look at the three running backs that they have, you know, I knew Victor Anderson, it’s like he’s been in the league for a number of years. I helped recruit him when I was at West Virginia, so I know a lot about Victor. You look at Wright and obviously Brown, so they have great depth there.”
Playing at Paul Brown Stadium
Another topic that arose on Tuesday was Paul Brown Stadium. On Saturday, the Bearcats make their first trip back to downtown Cincinnati since they narrowly lost to Oklahoma in what may have been their biggest game of 2010.
On Tuesday, Jones discussed the pros and cons of moving to a larger, off-campus venue.
“Obviously we are looking forward to it and you know I have said make no bones about it, we love Nippert Stadium,” said Jones when asked how he felt about playing in Paul Brown Stadium as opposed to Nippert Stadium.
“It’s the fourth oldest football stadium in America and we take great pride in that. It’s very special to have two home venues. Now we venture down two miles down the road to Paul Brown Stadium, we need everyone to come out and support this football team. We need to make Paul Brown a home field advantage.”
But this Saturday isn’t just any other game for the Bearcats. It’s a chance to audition themselves in front of a national audience, and it’s a chance to turn Paul Brown Stadium into what could be an even more hostile home than Nippert Stadium.
More importantly, however, it is the first time in the school’s history that their homecoming game will be played away from campus. On Tuesday, Butch Jones talked about that situation, and what he thought may arise from it.
“It’s what you make of it,” he said. “Let’s make Paul Brown Stadium the best college football stadium and atmosphere in America this Saturday. It’s homecoming. The great thing is more fans can come watch us play. More alumni can come back and watch us play – they’ll have the amenities of a professional NFL stadium, the private luxury box, great tailgating, easy parking, easy access. It’s what you make of it. It should be a source of pride and it should be exciting to go down there and play.”
The game, which kicks off at noon on Saturday, will not only give the Bearcats a shot at notching their 5th win of the season, something they failed to accomplish at any point last season, but it also gives them a chance to start 1-0 in the Big East, something they’ll need to accomplish if they hope to get back to a BCS bowl game for the 3rd time in four years.