USF’s new defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, knows the Big East — and he also knows how to win in the Big East, coming off a conference championship with Cincinnati last season.
The Ohio native, who was hired last week by USF coach Jim Leavitt, will experience his first practice as a Bull today when USF begins spring football at 4 p.m.
Tresey, who spent two seasons with the Bearcats before being fired last month, said in a conference call that he’s anticipating the upcoming spring practices and getting familiar with his new players. Tresey’s defenses at Cincinnati helped the Bearcats win three straight games against USF and make an Orange Bowl appearance.
Will your Big East experience help you?
I don’t think there is any question. I am very familiar with everyone — (it’s) an ongoing process, but I’m at least familiar with the head coaches in the way they approach and how they prepare each week. It’s a great advantage. It’s a comfort level. It’s nice.
What will USF’s defense look like next year?
Communication is extremely important in playing fast. Tackling, meeting and defeating blocks as well. Being great on third down. Being great in the red zone and scoring defense, which is the most important stat of them all. Rush defense. All those things we’re going to be the best at and try to be the best in the Big East, just like every other coordinator is trying to be.
How important is it to you for your defenses to force turnovers?
(Forcing turnovers) is something we talk about as a defense on a consistent basis. We will do drills every day to emphasize that. We’re going to talk about that on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, then review that on Monday. I don’t have any idea how Jim (Leavitt) practices, but Thursday is more of a lighter day and not so focused on individual work. So Tuesday and Wednesday are your individual days, usually, and that is when we will emphasize that big time.
Why do you think your defenses have been so successful against USF?
I wish I could tell you. I really don’t know. It’s a funny game. Some teams seem to match up well against others, whether it’s psychological or whatever. You look at USF — they have beaten Louisville a couple times really bad and Syracuse had Louisville’s number in the conference the last two years. I know two years ago we were down here and it was an unbelievable game and we held on at the very end. Last year, the kids we had played very well at Nippert Stadium and they took a lot of pride in that. So anyone that came to Nip knew they had to buckle it up, and we had USF at home, and that was a huge advantage to Cincinnati.
What kind of emotions will you feel when you meet Cincinnati in Tampa next year?
There are going to be some thoughts about it, but bottom line is, it is USF playing Cincinnati, not Joe Tresey vs. Cincinnati. So the focus is to beat Cincinnati. I think the biggest thing is that we haven’t beaten Cincinnati in three years. So we need to beat Cincinnati. I don’t care who you are playing — if you don’t beat someone for three years, you need to turn the tables and get this thing going a little bit.
What is your defensive philosophy?
I’m sure it will be different, because I’m not Wally Burnham. Wally has a philosophy. He
developed a mind-set with his football team. I’m a different individual, so I’ll have a different mind-set. But we’re both 4-3 guys, so we will run the 4-3. I don’t think I am any different. Sometimes I think we make this more difficult than it actually is. We have to live right off the field. Academics, personal life, etc. … When you’re on the field, it has to be 110 percent. You have to have great focus and love what you do. You have to love to play and play with great effort. Along with that, when you get more specific, you have to be great at communications. You have to be very good at tackling. You have to play fast. That is extremely important in this day and age.
Have you recruited in Florida?
I recruited the state of Florida a little bit when I was at Akron … I have recruited Jacksonville, Broward and Dade counties. When we were at Georgia Southern, I came down and visited some kids in Orlando as coordinator … so I have some familiarity.
How tough will it be to make such a fast transition into the team because of the lateness of the hiring?
It’s always a challenge — you know how coaches are. We need to rock and roll. We’re going Tuesday. It is what it is. We’re going to get in what we feel our kids are going to execute. We want to be able to have minimal mistakes, do the things we talked about previously and we’ll rock and roll. Let’s go.