You can almost guarantee that there will be some kind of coaching change at any given football program throughout the country during the offseason. Whether it be a top-to-bottom gutting of the staff or a coordinator getting a raise something typically happens between the final game of one season and the opening game of the next. The same goes for Cincinnati and this isn’t surprising considering the success of 2011 season.
There was quite a bit of moving and shaking amongst the Butch Jones regime. Most of it was expected such as a raise for the big man and his assistants but some changes came out of no where. The ones that made the biggest waves were Kerry Coombs accepting a similar role at Ohio State and Tim Banks going to Illinois. As a result, Jones added new coaches and moved current ones into different roles to make up for their departures. Along with the overhaul of some key positions such as quarterback and defensive tackle, it remains to be seen just how these coaching changes affect the team this Fall.
The first critical change was Kerry Coombs’ move to Ohio State. Like I mentioned in his going away post, Coombs’ departure can be looked at as a positive and negative for the Bearcts. The main criticism I have had of Kerry Coombs is that his players hardly developed under his watch. He was essentially gifted a loaded secondary in 2008 and had been riding that success since then. In essence, he was an unbelievable ‘rah-rah’ coach who could motivate his players, and the entire team, to no end. But when it came to player development and evaluation Coombs was sorely lacking and under the bright lights of live football games it became blatantly obvious that something was wrong.
I think 2012 will be different. First of all, there will not be just one coach handing the secondary but two. Shannon Morrison will be working with the cornerbacks and Mark Elder with the safeties. This is a smart move for the simple reason that the same workload as last season is being split between two coaches, so the players will benefit from more individual attention. Secondly while we don’t know what exactly Morrison and Elder will bring from a player development standpoint, we do know that what their predecessor was doing wasn’t working. So while there’s a big unknown in the transition from Coombs to Morrison/Elder, some shaking up in this area was definitely overdue and there’s nothing saying the Bearcats won’t see an improvement this Fall.
The second major coaching change was in the defense as a whole. Co-Defensive Coordinator Tim Banks left Cincinnati to accept a full-time DC position with the Illinois Fighting Illini. It was a smart move and might actually benefit both parties. I’m speaking about Tim Banks who undoubtedly got a pay raise and Cincinnati who were able to give John Jancek the full-time job. The Illini may or may not be better off with this move. You can judge for yourself after you review the data below.
I listed this in the original post when Tim Banks departed but it’s worth mentioning again. Below are the points per game and passing yards Banks’ defenses gave up in five years under his watch along with national rankings:
- 2011: 20.3 ppg (20th) – 261 passing yards per game (99th)
- 2010: 28.0 ppg (68th) – 234 passing yards per game (88th)
- 2009: 18.9 ppg (19th) – 221 passing yards per game (66th)
- 2008: 30.2 ppg (90th) – 287 passing yards per game (119th)
- 2007: 36.9 ppg (110th) – 303 passing yards per game (118th)
Year-over-year, that’s pretty gosh darn awful.
Sure his defenses were pretty stout in 2011 and 2009 as far as raw points are concerned but they never once cracked the Top-50 in passing yards allowed. The reason? Well Banks seemed to love ‘Shell’ schemes in which his defenders dropped back into zone coverage and were asked to just keep everything in front of them. That’s all well and good as long as the quarterback was under pressure but when they weren’t the ‘Shell’ made the Tino Sunseri’s of the world look like Aaron Rodgers.
And the frustrating thing about it is Banks rarely deviated from that plan when it was clear quarterbacks were picking it apart left and right. That might have been the biggest criticism I had of the former Bearcat Defensive Coordinator. So with Banks gone, John Jancek will take over the gameday duties on top of preparing the defense throughout the week. Like with the Coombs-to-Morrison/Elder transition it’s difficult to project just what affect this will have on the defense next season. But change was also needed here and UC might just see an improvement in this department especially with a loaded secondary coming back this Fall.
Other than replacing Kerry Coombs and Tim Banks, Butch Jones didn’t do much else this past offseason except add Roy Manning and assign titles to his returning coaches. Manning is stepping into a critical role with the Bearcats who are looking to replace their do-it-all back Isaiah Pead. I think the key here is that he has experience with the UC staff, albeit on the defensive side of the ball, and worked with the offensive line at Michigan. In most situations a good offensive line makes a good runningback. Manning’s understanding of that unit will help him teach the ball carriers the flow of the OL and be able to sniff out even the smallest running lanes. It will certainly helps that he will have a veteran George Winn to guide the young squad.
Finally it should be mentioned that the fact that Butch Jones was able to hang onto Steve Stripling is absolutely HUGE for this team. He coached an outstanding unit in 2011. Stripling was aided by having two future NFL players obliterating offensive lines to work with but overall he did a nice job. There is no doubt that he will have his hands full this Fall replacing Wolfe and Hughes but him staying on with Cincinnati can only be a good thing for the young defensive line and the defense as a whole.