CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 25: Butch Jones the Head Coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats gives instructions to his team during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Paul Brown Stadium on September 25 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Butch Jones did a two part Q&A with gobearcats.com. The first part can be viewed here and is for the most part focused on big picture things. The second is more about this years team. In the main it is the usual Butch Jones speak. Lots of cliche's and slogans and all the things that made him hated in 2010 and loved in 2011. Still there are a few moments of clarity worth attention.
For my money his most interesting comments are about the defense and running backs . To wit.
"We really believe you win championships on a consistent basis with playing great defense. I think we have enough weapons on offense where our quarterback, whoever it is, doesn't have to win the game for you. They got to do a great job of managing it where it's all about scoring defense. If I had to pick one, I would say No. 1 on defense."
When was the last time Butch Jones talked about his quarterbacks managing the game? I can't really remember it happening. That is a marked change from the start of his tenure when it seemed that being a passing offense was the only thing that Mike Bajakian and Jones talked about. Throwing the Football. UC only threw the ball 392 times last year and I would be surprised to see the offense, with Munchie Legaux or Brendon Kay, eclipse 400 attempts this year.
Now about those running backs.
"The big thing with our running back situation right now is each player has a different skill set and they all compliment each other. It's doing what they can do and where they can excel and not asking them to be something they are not. We are not asking them to be Isaiah Pead, because they are not Isaiah Pead, but we have to capitalize on what they do well. If that means playing five backs, we'll play five. If that means one guy comes in like Isaiah did and asserts himself, we'll play one. But, really, I see us playing a lot of running backs this year."
It maybe true that the Bearcats backs in 2012 have similar skill sets, but there is only two guys that are similar among the leading trio. George Winn and Jameel Poteat are similar in build and style, but Poteat is faster and quicker and has more physical ability than anyone else on the roster. Ralph Abernathy IV is the quintessential space player. There are tools to work with for Bajakian, the question is how to use them.
The balance, as ever, is between getting production in the present while getting ready for the future. The future meaning Poteat and Quatro, and to a lesser extent Deionte Buckley and Ti'on Green. Then there is the question of Aaron Harris and what to do with him. Its easy to fret because none of these guys is Isaiah Pead, but it isn't like the Bearcats are going back to square one at the running back position. This is a pretty deep and talented stable of backs. But Jones, Bajakian and Roy Manning have to figure out a way to get everyone involved.