When the news that Joe Tresey was hired broke here, I was somewhat perplexed because he was not mentioned at any point by any media outlet that was covering our DC search. I did some googling and saw his previous coaching experience. I remember watching the USF team and Cincy teams Joe Tresey coached and how well they played those seasons. Once I learned Tresey was the DC during those periods of success, specifically under Brian Kelly's tenure at Cincy, I thought our defense was going to reach a high level of play quickly. Unfortunately, Tresey is not living up to his credentials thus far.
Peter Yoon states that Joe Tresey was in the coaches box at Houston. After the season-opening loss, Tresey decided to head back down to the field and plans to remain there for what seems to be the rest of the season.
With the well-documented lackluster play of the defense, you have to wonder about the psychological impact his presence may have on the defensive players. If he is the agressive, in-your-face, energetic coach we were lead to believe, his presence on the sidelines during a game could be a difference maker. If he's there to give the D-line an earful on their performance or provide immediate, intimate coaching details to the defensive leaders, the defense as a whole could look a lot better. It may well be that his absence from the field at Houston decreased the effectiveness of our defense early on. Essentially, he wasn't on the field coaching. Then you look at SJS, a team that our guys looked uninterested in playing even though Tresey was on the field to provide guidance. The defense snapped out of their funk in time to get a W. Something worth noting: the defense allowed 317 yards against SJS and, via a quote here, Tresey's defenses at USF and Cincy allowed roughly 321 total yards per game, finishing nationally at 24th and 31st, respectively. I know what you're thinking - it's SJSU. That's fine. I agree with many in that the defense shouldn't have played so sloppily and allow them to score a TD. However, I believe the team took the Houston game much more seriously than the SJS game. Taking a team seriously is important for my concluding observation.
Another big issue is tackling. Among others, Tresey has said that the guys are not tackling full speed during practice in order to prevent injuries. An old truism tells us that you practice how you play; it may be the case here. Maybe the staff is taking into consideration the student-athlete. I'm currently a student and I can imagine the pain in the ass it would be to be practicing, injured, unable to play and swamped with school work (not to mention walking around our hill-y campus). Of course the injuries come with the game, but where is the line drawn between safety and a decrease in performance? Do we need fresh bodies at all times or do we keep the physically tough ones during full speed practices? What individual gains are there for performing at a high level? These are tough questions to approach and are worth deeper analysis, an analysis I leave to the pensive reader.
We are only two games deep into the season so it is tough to come to a serious conclusion about Tresey's overall effectiveness. I still think he is a great coach and has the potential to bring the best out of our defensive players. A strong performance this week would reflect well on Tresey. With Texas coming, a team our guys may take seriously, plus Joe Tresey on the sidelines, we may finally see solid effort from the defensive unit. Let's hope the third game is a charm.