UC to USF might be good tradeoff for Joe Tresey

By Darrell Laurant  |   Monday, March 09, 2009  |  Comments( 1 )

South Florida Bulls
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If you can't beat him, convince him to join you.

That's what the University of South Florida team decided earlier this year, choosing recently fired University of Cincinnati defensive coordinator Joe Tresey to replace Wally Burnham as the Bulls' DC.

The decision by head coach Jim Leavitt may have had something to with the fact that Cincinnati held USF's supposedly high-octane offense to just 10 points last season.

Certainly, Tresey wasn't jettisoned by UC coach Brian Kelly because of incompetence. The Bearcats won the Big East title, led the league in takeaways and held opponents to a 31 percent success rate on third-down plays.

Rather, Tresey said in his first USF press conference, the split involved what they call in Hollywood "creative differences."

"He (Kelly) was looking at things a certain way, I was looking at things a certain way," Tresey remarked.

On the face of it, the flip-flop is a good deal for Tresey, and not just because of the milder winters. The Bearcats lost 10 of 11 starters from their 2008 defense. USF, meanwhile, is stacked at every position except safety -- and even there, All-America candidate Nate Allen returns. DE George Selvie, hampered by injuries in 2008 after a monster 2007 season, decided to wait another year on the NFL to harass quarterbacks again.

Other key returnees include cornerbacks Jerome Murphy, Tyson Butler and Quenton Washington; D-linemen David Bedford, Cory Grissom, Aaron Harris, Keith McCaskill, Terrill McClain and Darren Powe; and linebackers Kion Wilson and Sabbath Joseph. The biggest loss will be linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, who led the Bulls in tackles in 2008.

Like Burnham, Tresey will run a 4-3. He will also stress the creation of turnovers, possibly devoting an entire day of practice to that department.

"He's not a guy to take a lot of chances," former Cincinnati DE Connor Barwin told TampaBay.com, "but he won't give up many big plays, either."

Tresey was credited with helping to turn Barwin from a tight end to an All-Big East DE (and possibly first-round NFL choice at linebacker).

South Florida's defense wasn't bad last season, except for one significant implosion (49 points given up to Rutgers).

"They have a lot of speed," Tresey said, perhaps not yet comfortable enough in its new job to revert to "we."

Which is a good thing -- besides the usual Big East schedule (at least Pat White is gone), the Bulls will play Florida State and Miami.
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