When Jim Mora took over the helm at the University of California, Los Angeles last year, defensive coordinator Joe Tresey was out after one season. Tresey, a native of Warren, then returned home to Youngstown State University and is in his second year. The Penguins ranked 11th at year’s end in the FCS in total defense, the program’s best finish since 1997. Tresey discussed how practice has been and what fans can expect for 2013 on Aug. 21.
Q: Obviously, it’s now your second year at YSU being the defensive coordinator. What changes have you made or anything different than when you came in last year up until now?
A: I think the kids have a better understanding of what we expect from them, and just our tempo, our urgency, being physical — just having motives is much better this year than at this time last year.
Q: Is there anybody so far that’s been breaking out at practice or has been turning your head?
A: I’ll tell you [senior D.J.] Moss has had a really good camp, and he has surprised me somewhat. I think the inside guys, [sophomore Emmanuel] Kromah, Moss, [sophomore Steve] Zaborsky, they’ve done a really good job. [Junior Julius] Childs left off where he left off, and our linebackers I think have picked up and done a better job. They feel better, they’re more vocal, etc. It’s just hard, you know? Some days Dom Rich has been really steady. Some days certain people really shine, and some days other people shine. But as far as consistency is concerned, I think our kids have been much more consistent across the boards as far as their mental assignments.
Q: What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
A: The biggest challenge everyday is trying to become more physical, try to play faster and have great communication skills. That’s a challenge everyday.
Q: Is there anything that you’ve seen different from your past coaching experience whether at UCLA or anywhere else as compared to here?
A: That’s very unfair to compare. BCS schools, Division I schools, have 85 scholarships. We have 63, and it’s hard. I think depth is a little bit tougher here, and everybody’s got depth issues these days in college football. But when you only have 63 scholarships, your depth is always going to be a challenge. We’re working on it. We’re getting close.
Q: Last season was your first year with coach Wolford and now in your second year. Do you feel a little more comfortable now, maybe not as much pressure, coming in with guys that you’ve never seen before into this system with a lot guys that have returned?
A: I don’t think it’s a pressure thing; it’s a comfort level. I think you become more comfortable with your surroundings as you evolve with it day by day. We got really good staff chemistry, and coach Wolford’s been outstanding to work for. He’s been great to my family and myself. We just got to win a bunch of games. That’s the bottom line.