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March 31, 2009

Spring Preview: An Interview with Brian Kelly

Coach Kelly graciously agreed to sit down with Bearcat Lair last week and discuss some of his personnel as the Bearcats go into 2009 spring football practices. Cincinnati will again get the chance to look at its returnees for fifteen practices although the final practice is considered the spring football game.

First, Coach Kelly was asked about some position changes, and the move of Demetrius Jones from quarterback to outside linebacker topped the list.

"This was a chance to get another athlete on the field," said Kelly. "Demetrius wasn't going to play very much behind Tony Pike and Chazz Anderson. He was somebody we watched on kickoffs, and he put his nose on somebody. He was physical and quite frankly, he wanted to play so we had two positions. It was wide receiver or now in our 3-3 defense the outside backer position that drops. It also gives him a little quarterback company with Craig Carey at that position, but we think it fits his skill level."

Orion Woodard won't actually change positions, but Coach Kelly said his versatility may be utilized on both sides of the ball.

"Orion Woodard is on offense, but the poor kid, we keep flip flopping on him. He's going to help us on special teams, and we know he has the skill level to run and play physical. He's a utility player for us. If there's a need one week, we could bounce him around."

Deon Reed has also had an adjustment made in his role on the team.

"We've dropped him down. He's kind of playing a rotated inverted safety position closer to the ball." Coach Kelly continued. "Is he a linebacker? He's more of a bigger, physical kid so we moved him down to get him closer to the ball. I don't know how that will play out for him, but he's definitely not going to be half safety for us."

Coach Kelly on the switch to the 3-4 defense?

"At the end of the day, we're going to play the same kind of defense we played last year, but we are better able to adjust to college football today from a three down than a four down. I put in the spread offense in 1991, and I was obviously one of the first to do it. I'm looking three to five years down the road, and the game is going to continue to get faster with more skilled players, and you better be able to defend the width of the field. Basing yourself out of a three down allows you a better opportunity to work against the spreads. It was a lot more difficult for us last year to take our four and match a spread. The three down will take us back to the 50 principles where you have an anchor end and a drop end. We will utilize our players' strengths in this (3-4) defense, and we don't want the offense to know who is coming and who is dropping. That is one of the advantages in this 3-4 defense. Our guys have to have the ability to do both."

Coach Kelly commented on his inside linebackers.

"In addition to Andre Revels, we moved Marcus Waugh over there. You also have J. K. Schaffer obviously. Obadiah Cheatham has been waiting for his opportunity. Maybe he's this year's Torry Cornett. Torry didn't play much until last year and had a great year. Collin McCafferty has played great in special teams, and he's an inside guy. Ricardo Thompson has made great progress, and we have Alex Delisi. They are not two gap players any more. They are single gap players so they just need to destroy blocks. It's a different kind of profile than what we've had in the past."

Coach Kelly listed Demetrius Jones, Robby Armstrong, Craig Carey, and Tomaz Hilton as all athletic players on the outside that can bring pressure or drop into pass coverage.

Coach Kelly on his receivers.

"Binns will be at the 'W' position, Mardy at the 'X' and Barnett and Woods at the 'Z'. Charley Howard and Lynell Payne are with Binns. Woodard will most likely stay at receiver with Mardy because he has great speed. We'll fit Vidal (Hazelton) where we think he'll fit the best. We have (Jamar) Howard coming in this summer so we think we have great depth at all those positions."

Coach Kelly on his offensive line.

"I think we've got a legitimate All-American candidate in Linkenbach. You have great versatility in Jason Kelce. He's shown he can start at center and play guard. You have Alex Hoffman who started a few games and showed he's Big East caliber. If Jurek is at center and Kelce is at guard, then it becomes Hoffman, C. J. Cobb and Sam Griffin competing on the right. And all three of those guys have played Big East football so it just depends on what happens on that right side. A number of things could happen. We'll continue to work Kelce at center along with Evan Davis, and we'll work some of the younger guys to see if any of them can help us. This is the best shape we've been in since we got here."

Coach Kelly on his running backs.

"We have to get a really good look at Pead and Williams. I think we have a good idea what Ramsey and Goebel can do. We really need to see what those two kids can do, and it's hard to get them all reps. Johnson and Winn have to be patient. They will get some work, but they have to be patient. We have to answer the Pead and Williams questions. Are they big play guys for us? We like then both."

Coach Kelly on his quarterbacks.

"No. 1 is decided, but Chazz will get some No. 1 reps. Tony Pike is our starter, but if we run into any problems, we know Chazz can come in there and win. He's 2-0 as a starter. Zach Collaros has to catch Chazz Anderson. We are going to take Kelce and Kay, and we think we have a package of our offense that we haven't unfolded yet because we haven't had a player that can run like a Tim Tebow package. They are both big, physical kids. We're not going to ask them to run the entire offense, but we're going to give them a piece. The other three guys will be running the whole offense."

Even with the move of Marcus Waugh to linebacker, Coach Kelly said he still felt there was enough depth at tight end with Ben Guidugli, Kazeem Alli, and Adrien Robinson.

Coach Kelly on his defensive line.

"We think we have a lot of options. Daniels, Wolfe, Mathews, Hughes, Trigg, Brandon Mills and Dan Goirdano are all 'inside out' players. Then we have 'outside in' players like Carey, Armstrong, Demetrius Jones, Curtis Young, Tomaz Hilton and a kid we think is really coming along, Walter Stewart. We have six that can force it outside in, and six that can work it inside out."

Coach Kelly on his cornerbacks.

"I'm happy with the guys we have. Brad Jones is going to be a player for us. Whether he plays short corner or wide corner, I'm not sure yet, but he ran a 4.55 forty on junior day. It's his time up. I have no questions that Brad Jones and Dominique Battle are two Big East caliber corners. Now we have some guys coming in, but they'll need to show me they are better than the two guys we have because I like the guys we have."

Coach Kelly on his safeties.

"Aaron Webster returns, and Drew Frey has a lot of experience. He knows the defense and how to play fast. He knows how to play the game, but I really like our freshman too. Quincy Quetant has a chance to compete for a starting position, and I like Patrick Lambert. Both those kids have shown a lot to me."

Spring practice officially begins on Tuesday, March 31.


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