EX-Assistant to Return Saturday
- By John Antonik
- November 09, 2010 09:16 AM
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Butch Jones will have very little time for nostalgia when his 3-5 Cincinnati football team plays at 5-3 West Virginia this Saturday afternoon. Jones was asked to describe the difference between the West Virginia offense he is studying this week and the two he was involved with working for Rodriguez in 2005-06.
Jones and five members of his Bearcat coaching staff will be returning to Morgantown in different colored uniforms this weekend. Jones spent two years on former coach Rich Rodriguez’s Mountaineer staff in 2005 and 2006, taking part in a pair of memorable bowl victories over Georgia and Georgia Tech before moving on to Central Michigan.
Five others – assistants Jahmile Addae and Brandon Miles, and strength and conditioning coaches Dave Lawson, Milo Austin and Mike Szerszen – will also be returning to Morgantown.
“On our staff we have five individuals that have either gone to school there or coached there,” said Jones earlier this week. “It will be a little bit different with the bus ride in and being on the opposite side of the fans pulling up to the stadium. And then it will be a little different on the opposite sideline.”
Jones said his two-year stay in Morgantown was an enjoyable one for him and his family.
“We have a lot of dear friends and true friends there, not only in that community, but in the administration and on the coaching staff. But once game time hits you’re competing,” said Jones. “I’m looking forward to going back, but it’s also going to be a great challenge.”
Preparing for the Mountaineers has left little time for them to reminisce.
“We’re just approaching it like any other game,” he said. “There is no change whether it’s Jahmile Addae or Brandon Miles or Milo Austin or Dave Lawson or Mike Szerszen … it is business as usual. Both Jamile and Brandon had tremendous careers there and now they are in a new phase of their life. They’re Bearcats so there hasn’t been much change in terms of that and we’re preparing like we would for any game.”
That may be, but Jones does have a little more insight in how to attack West Virginia’s 3-3-5 stack defense because he spent two years going up against it every day in practice.
“I haven’t seen it in practice for 2 ½ years but it helps,” Jones admitted. “At the end of the day it comes down to putting your kids in the proper positions to be successful. You look at their defense and it’s a senior-junior dominated defense and they’re extremely talented.”
Jones is particularly impressed with the growth and development of such players as Chris Neild, Scooter Berry, J.T. Thomas and Anthony Leonard, having been involved in their recruiting process when he was still on the WVU staff.
“Watching a lot of the young kids when I was there now mature into juniors and seniors, they’re playing like a typical Jeff Casteel defense,” said Jones. “They have been in that system for a while now so they know all the little fine details of that defense and Jeff does a tremendous job of putting them into the right positions to succeed.
“It’s going to be a challenge because they can stack the box and take away your run game and then all of a sudden, boom, they’re in drop-eight or even drop-nine coverage because of the nature of the defense,” Jones continued. “The big thing is we’ve got to be able to run the football. If they make us one dimensional we’re in for a long afternoon.”
Jones said he expects quarterback Zach Collaros to be able to play this Saturday. Two weeks ago during Cincinnati’s 31-7 loss to Syracuse, Collaros missed the game with a knee injury suffered in the 38-30 loss to South Florida.
“His knee is much better,” Jones said. “He had very limited reps last week in practice and that was just getting him healthy. We practiced (Sunday) and he practiced.”
Jones mentioned that the biggest hurdle for Collaros will be how his knee handles a full week of practice.
“We’re going to make sure he’s game ready and we fully, fully anticipate that he will play,” said Jones. “He’s done a great job at rehab and it was great that he was able to make it through an entire practice. Now you sit back and you wait and see how the body responds to everything.”
Both teams are in the unusual position of trying to snap two-game losing streaks and needing wins to keep some of their preseason goals intact.
“The two telling statistics we stress in our football program are red zone efficiency and making our opponents kick field goals and also turnover margin,” said Jones. “There is no secret we’ve turned the football over and when we’ve limited our turnovers we can play with anyone. We can’t be a team that beats ourselves.
“The other thing is just growing up. We’re starting eight sophomores on defense – that’s not a crutch – but we need to get better in a hurry and that’s why every meeting, every practice and every lift session is critical in their development,” Jones said.
“They’re throwing the football a little bit more so you see a little difference in terms of formations and variations,” Jones said. “A lot of their run schemes are very similar with the zone and the power schemes and that, but also you see the nuances in the run game a little bit. You can see bits and pieces of what we had in ’05 and ’06, but also you see some different things. Probably the biggest difference is in the throw game.”
West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said Monday morning that his team has spent the last two weeks working on fundamentals. “We’ve been hitting and we’re still trying to get better,” he said. “We’re going to do the right things and that’s crossing our Ts and dotting our Is and finish with the stretch run.”
Stewart also said running back Noel Devine continues to get better but he is clearly not the same running back he was before the LSU game on Sept. 25. Devine is averaging just 4.8 yards per carry in eight games this season, or 1.2 yards per carry less than his career average entering his senior year.
Devine has had one run of 50 yards so far this year; he had nine coming into this season.
“He got hit out of bounds down at LSU and he hasn’t been the same back since,” said Stewart. “He’s getting better but I still don’t think he has jump-cut as well running the zone. And I don’t think he’s run the ball as well in the open field. He can still play but a bone bruise is a bone bruise and hopefully he’ll get better each and every outing.”