Cincinnati Football: 5 Things That Will Keep Butch Jones Up at Night
Cincinnati football coach Butch Jones did not spend his past weekend watching the Kentucky Derby or watching the fight between Mayweather and Cotto.
To stay ahead of every other coach in the NCAA, Butch Jones eats, sleeps and breathes football 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 365 days out of the year.
As a result, Jones has been staying up late into the night addressing concerns that the Cincinnati football team has on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball before going into the 2012 season.
Butch Jones will have to replace the ultimate dual-threat quarterback Zach Collaros who graduated in 2011.
In 2012, Jones will look forward to a quarterback competition between junior Munchie Legaux and senior Brendon Kay.
In an interview with Andrea Adelson at ESPN:
"The big thing is an overall level of consistency that we're searching for," Jones said. "Both are a little bit different in their games, but the thing that we're searching for is the individual who can manage the offense with great efficiency, take care of the football, who is a coach on the field. A lot of great quarterback play is a lot like being a great point guard in basketball, knowing how to distribute the ball, identifying match-ups and taking care of the football. It's the small details. I've been really encouraged by both individuals. They've shown tremendous work ethic, and great poise. The competition has made them both better."
Jones runs a spread offense where the quarterback will throw a lot of short, intermediate passes mixed in with screen passes to spread the width of the field.
Munchie can make all the throws, but his 47.4 completion percentage in 2011 needs to drastically improve for him to stay out there.
Jones more than likely will make Munchie the starter, but Kay will come in soon if Munchie struggles in the slightest, especially with an offense that is predicated on pinpoint accurate passes.
Wide Receiver Depth Could Be an Issue
In the spread offense for Butch Jones wide receivers are big, fast and explosive. They have to be able to catch just as well as run block.
Unfortunately, Jones will be without the services of D.J. Woods gone to graduation, but will have two solid returning starters in Anthony McClung and Kenbrell Thompkins.
McClung led the team in receptions (49), yards (683) and touchdowns (six) in 2011, and Thompkins was second on the team in receptions and yards.
McClung has been limited in the spring because of an injury, and Alex Chisum is the team's third wide receiver and had 19 receptions for 300 yards and two touchdowns in 2011.
However, outside of Thompkins, McClung and Chisum, no other wide receiver on the depth chart had more than three receptions in 2011.
Per Andrea Adelson:
Dyjuan Lewis got hurt early in the spring and will not be back in time for fall practice. Lewis suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot while going up for a ball and landing awkwardly. Jordan Luallen, making the transition from quarterback to receiver, also was limited during the spring with an injury, though he returned for the final two practices. Jones expects to rely on him in the passing game, and needs Max Morrison, Chris Moore and Shaq Washington to have very productive summers.
Depth is the major concern here for Jones, and he needs to figure it out sooner rather than later who will be ready to step up at the wide receiver position.
Offensive Line Depth
In the spread offense for Jones, the offensive line has to be physical up front, but the amount of bodies could be an issue at this point in time.
In the spring, Cincinnati missed starter Austen Bujnoch due to injury and Cory Keebler was also limited. However, Jones feels good about Dan Sprague at center.
Sean Hooey returned and got extensive reps, and Jones also liked the way Kevin Schloemer practiced as well.
Jones went on to say in the interview with Adelson, "It is the overall depth and continuity on the offensive line, that still remains an area of concern."
The majority of the offensive play calls are predicated on how physical the offensive line is up front to spread the field and open it up for the skilled offensive playmakers in space.
Moreover, the depth at offensive line will be an issue for Cincinnati going forward.
The Inexperience at Linebacker
Jones plays a 4-3 defensive scheme that is in attack mode at all times.
No players are more integral on the defense than the linebacker core to pursue the ball, gang tackle, and play very aggressive.
Solomon Tentman has garnered some attention with his incredible return from a devastating knee injury. But Jones noted that Tentman is not even at 100 percent. Jones also praised Greg Blair and Nick Temple, who will be relied on both in the middle and on the outside at linebacker. "We are going to ask a lot of Nick," Jones said. "He has to be a rock of stability for us."
Tentman now a sophomore will team up with senior Maalik Bomar to form a pretty good duo.
However, Jones will look for other players to step up as it will be pretty hard to ask for Tentman be very aggressive following such a terrible injury.
Defensive Secondary: Last Line of Defense
Jones' defensive secondary can play a variety of schemes that include playing man-to-man and press coverage.
The cornerback spots are occupied by some of the best athletes on the team and most experienced positions in terms of number of starts, though veterans Deven Drane and Dominique Battle both sat out with injuries.
Meanwhile, Jones considers the safety spot to be the quarterback of the defense because the safety spot dictates what adjustments to make and can also play a variety of schemes: man-to-man and press coverage.
As a result, Jones has two of his smarter players on the defensive side of the ball Arryn Chenault and Drew Frey at the safety spots.
Moreover, Jones will have to rely heavily on the defensive secondary again in 2012 as Cincinnati was one of the better defenses in the nation in 2011.
Furthermore, Jones has developed a number of impact players like running back Isaiah Pead, defensive tackles Derek Wolfe and John Hughes, tight end Adrien Robinson all to the 2012 NFL draft. From the Bearcats' official website:
"It’s about the development of our players," Head Coach Butch Jones said. "We take great pride in using the term ‘NFL ready'...You can be a great player and come to the University of Cincinnati."
We will find out soon what players on the 2012 team will become 'NFL ready' and make Butch Jones sleep a little easier at night.