Pete Roussel at CoachingSearch, who are usually on the forefront of anything related to coaching at various levels, is reporting that Tommy Tuberville is letting his defensive coordinator Art Kaufman and defensive tackle coach Fred Tate walk.
It’s unclear the nature of their departure but I was absolutely shocked to hear this news.
Despite the coaching change from Jones’ regime to Tuberville’s staff, the defense didn’t seem to miss a step this season. The Bearcats finished 16th nationally allowing 21 points per game and 9th nationally allowing 315 yards per game. Both of those stats would suggest an extremely successful season out of the defense. But when they were exposed, they were exposed badly.
Case in point was Illinois and North Carolina. While it was a game early in the new staff’s tenure, the Bearcats’ defense looked lethargic and unprepared to face Bill Cubit’s passing attack. The Illini torched UC to the tune of 522 total yards and 45 points. There were missed tackles everywhere and overall it was one of the most embarrassing games for Cincinnati fans to witness. That was only surpassed by the beating UC’s defense took in the Belk Bowl at the hands of North Carolina.
You remember that game, right? It was a freaking disaster.
Cincinnati surrendered 39 points and 345 yards of total offense to the Tar Heels in the season finale. Now, two of the touchdowns allowed were on special teams, far outside of Kaufman and Tate’s jurisdiction, but UC again looked surprised with how North Carolina was attacking them offensively. Cincinnati did a horrible job keeping the Heels’ playmakers in check and just looked slow like against Illinois.
Even with those dumpster fires, I was generally impressed with Kaufman’s handling of the defense and Tate’s coaching of the DT position. So, again, this news was more than a little surprising to me especially with the way Kaufman turned around Texas Tech’s defense in 2012 and how both came with Tuberville from Lubbock. Maybe there’s something else going on here that we don’t know about?
Going forward, I’m not sure who will replace them but I have my theories. Fred Tate is easier to replace as Tuberville could easily give current defensive ends coach Robert Prunty the full time defensive line duties, much like Steve Stripling last year. As far as defensive coordinator, that’s where it gets tricky. In all likelihood Tuberville will hire from within to keep the continuity on defense. Who that person is, I’m not sure but we might see the UC head coach have a more hands on role in the defense going forward.