Q&A with defensive coordinator Joe Tresey
USF just held a teleconference with new defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, who's busy trying to get a new playbook installed before the Bulls open spring practice on Tuesday. USF has a full transcript here, but here are some highlights ...
-- On the time period between his first interview and his hiring, during which Leavitt met with several other candidates, offering at least four some kind of role as a co-coordinator or more:
"Jim had a variety of guys he wanted to go to. Jim and I didn't have any history, so we had to get to know each other through the process. He kept me informed each step of the way. He communicated with me. I knew everything that was going on. In this type of position, someone's going to get hired at the end of the day, and heck, here I am.
"Did I know exactly know who he was interviewing? No. But he kept me informed whether it was going to be a co-DC, a DC. He was looking at going some different angles. Jim was very, very fair with me, communicated with me throughout the whole process. I knew exactly where I stood. It was just a matter of time, and hoping things would work out."
-- On what his defense will line up, philosophically:
"I don't think I'm any different from anybody else. Communication is extremely important, playing fast, tackling, meeting and defeating blocks, being great on third down, being great in the red zone, and scoring defense, which is the most important stat of them all. We're going to try to be the best in the Big East, just like every other coordinator is trying to be."
-- On how his Cincinnati defense controlled USF in the last two meetings, forcing eight turnovers in 2007 and holding USF to 10 points in 2008:
"I wish I could tell you. This is a funny game. Some teams, whether it's a psychological deal or whatever, seem to get one up on other teams. ... I really can't pinpoint it. I know two years ago we were down here it was an unbelievable game and we held on at the very end to win the game. It could have gone either way. Last year, the kids we had at Cincinnati played very well at Nippert Stadium. We had a great record there, and they took a lot of pride in the Nipp. I don't care who came into the Nipp, they were going to have to buckle it up."
-- On why Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly chose to fire him in February, long after the season had ended.
"It's history. My perception, the way everything went down, he was looking at things a certain way, I was looking at things a certain way ... It's in the past. Everybody's got an opinion. I think it's done with, it's over with. I'm moving forward. He's moving forward, and I want to leave it at that. ... No question, it was a surprise. This game we play, this profession, if you look at it, the way it's changed in the last five-six years, it wasn't a surprise, but then again, it happened. If you're going to run in this profession, in this BCS deal, it's different now. The times have changed. You know what you're into, and if you're going into stay in the hunt, you have to know it can happen."
-- Will he be more motivated when Cincinnati comes to Tampa this fall?
"There's going to be some thoughts about it, but the bottom line is it's South Florida playing Cincinnati. It's not Joe Tresey playing Cincinnati. The focus is going to be to beat Cincinnati. The biggest thing is we haven't beaten Cincinnati in three years. We need to beat Cincinnati. I don't care who we're playing, you don't beat somebody for three years, you need to turn the tables and get the thing going a little bit."
-- Will he run the same defense he had at Cincinnati, or the system in place at USF?
"It's probably going to be a combination of the two. ... Sure it's going to be different because I'm not Wally Burnham. Wally's got a philosophy, he developed a mindset with this football team. I'm a different individual, I'm going to have a little different mindset, sure. It's going to be a little different, but we're both 4-3 guys, and we're still running the 4-3."
-- How challenging is it to come in less than a week before spring practice starts?
"I only have five days to go. We've got 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 be able to execute. We're going to play fast, have minimal mental errors, be able to communicate and all the things I've talked about. We're going to rock and roll."