Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco
It’s been an honor to be a part of the Bearcat program and to be at the Sugar Bowl here in New Orleans. It’s been a magical season so far, and we’re very excited to have the opportunity to play what looks on tape to be one of the best offensive teams in the country. We’re looking forward to the challenge. The hospitality from the folks at Tulane University and at our hotel has been great, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the week in preparation for the game.
How would you compare the stability of your team and program versus Florida’s given the events of the weekend?
Before our last game, coach (Brian) Kelly used a term to describe the senior class which permeates to the rest of the team, and that is perseverance. When you have a group of seniors that each have an unbelievable story, whether they were quarterbacks that never played or players that were at other institutions, that didn’t just melt away when things changed. The character and fortitude that was built didn’t just melt away. All kudos and credit goes to our players who are rock solid and overcame some obstacles and went back to business as usual. I can’t speak for Florida because I don’t know their team, but I’d assume their situation is similar.
What kind of challenges does Tim Tebow present as a dual threat quarterback?
What you don’t hear a lot of is how really large and physical he is. The offense creates challenges based on what they do with him and there are multiple options on each play. He creates a tackling challenge with an inside and outside option on every play. The innovative offense, coupled with his physical presence, creates a system and fundamental challenge for our players in particular. Throwing the ball, he has a very strong arm, is an accurate passer and has a cast of players that can really make plays. He definitely presents a strong challenge for us.
When you have a player that commits to a University and a program, how do you explain to him when he asks why his coach left him?
My opinion is that these players, and the ones being recruited right now, need to shift their emphasis away from the bright lights, what the football complex looks like, the shoe contracts and on and on. Make your decision based on if football ended tomorrow, where you would like to go to school. Where could you see yourself walking on campus, going into class and getting an education, and make your decision based on that. At the end of the day, if you’ve operated like that and under those parameters, then the player is in the right place and the conversation never happens.
Aaron Webster, Defensive Back
What was it like watching the Urban Meyer situation unfold?
It was just on television so much you couldn’t avoid it. It was a sad day for college football just because he (Meyer) is such a good coach. But like I told my teammates we are not going out there to play sympathy football, we are going out there to win the game. All the stuff from the media and outside of football we just can’t afford to worry about the external stuff.
Is there any talk that the situation with Coach Meyer has whipped the Florida team into shape?
I mean yeah there is talk that this has given them the motivation for the game, but there is also talk that we became motivated when our coach left us. All of the outside stuff is good, but at the end of the day when you’re out on that field none of that stuff is going to matter. You are going out there to play football and right when those first snaps hit you are going to do what you’ve been doing or you’re going to something different.
Are you guys over the Brian Kelly stuff yet?
When it first happened we weren’t really worried about it. He made his decision. Right now we are worried about the people who are here what we are here to do.
Andre Revels, Linebacker
We are taking in everything pretty well, the city and bowl personnel have been pretty hospitable. We’ve been to some great places and done some great things so far and it’s just building up to the first of January and this game we are going to play. It’s going to be a great time.
How are you guys planning on defending Tim Tebow and the rest of the Florida Gator offense?
The great secret that we have for this game is to tackle (Tim) Tebow and the rest of the Florida Gators. That’s our great secret and game plan – to tackle.
Are there any distractions for you heading into the game?
Everybody’s locked into the game. Our “distraction” heading into the game happened a couple of weeks ago (with Brian Kelly leaving) so that has come and gone. The only thing on our minds is to go out there and win the Sugar Bowl.
Is the size of Florida’s O-line something you notice?
If you look at their roster and you see those big boys, that’s the first thing you notice, but I can’t lie, every week I say “Wow, that’s a big line.”
Is playing a player like Tebow a source of motivation?
Everybody has different motivators. Some people it’s playing in the Sugar Bowl, some people it’s going undefeated, some people it’s playing Tebow. I think it’s a combination of everything.
Is Cincinnati excited for a chance to get more respect from voters/media?
I really can’t answer that, because I really don’t care. All I do is tackle people.
JK Schaffer, Linebacker
What are your emotions like heading into Friday’s game?
Emotions are very high for me. It’s been nothing but excitement since we’ve found out we were playing in the Sugar Bowl against Florida. The whole city (Cincinnati), and the whole team is excited. We are practicing with a lot of energy and really looking forward to the game Friday.
Does Cincinnati have something to prove in this Sugar Bowl and to the country to show what Big East football and Cincinnati football is all about?
This game, especially, we feel like we have something to prove to a whole lot of people. We are going to try and take it to them. We’ve tried to do this every single game, but this one means a lot more.
Your last game against Pitt was a wild game. What were the emotions like on the sideline from being down 31-10 to when you guys kicked the winning field goal?
It was absolutely crazy. We were down 21 points about to head into halftime. The defense got together and talked about how we need to stop their offense a few times as our offense can score. If we hold them to a few three-and-outs then we would give our offense a chance to win the game. We just had to fight for it and that is just what we did.
Alex Daniels, DE:
Does it help Cincinnati that more attention is on Florida this week?
All the attention should be on Florida this week. They’ve got one of the greatest players ever to play the game. They’ve got an awesome coach that’s going through a problem right now. We just feel like, it doesn’t matter because we still have to play on Saturday…or, Friday…Whatever day it is we play. It’s always like that for us every week. We always get overlooked, so we really don’t feel like that’s a problem.
Has Brian Kelly leaving for Notre Dame been a distraction for Cincinnati?
Everybody has distractions. It’s just how you deal with it as a mature group. Dealing with the situation we had a couple weeks ago, we feel like we have it nipped in the bud. Everybody felt like it was the best decision for him (Brian Kelly) as a professional, but as a team right now we all came together even better to really understand that we still have a goal to be 13-0. We have a chance to play the defending national champions in Florida, and one of the arguably greatest players in college football in Tim Tebow. We don’t care if a dog is coaching us; we’d go out there and play hard.
Brad Jones, CB:
Does it help Cincinnati that more attention is on Florida this week?
It’s been the same way all season. We’ve had doubters all season, but we’re 12-0 for a reason. We’re pretty good, they’re pretty good, so we’re just going to let things settle on the field.
Is Cincinnati’s defense ready for Florida’s offense?
I think we’re prepared. We have a wealth of knowledge. We’ve studied a lot of game tape, and it’s the Sugar Bowl. We have to come ready to play and bring our A game. We want to go out there, run fast, hit hard, play Cincinnati football and just go out there and get it done.
How has the football program been received recently at a traditional basketball school?
It’s crazy. The excitement and the buzz about the program keeps growing. It’s Ohio, and Ohio loves football, and Ohio loves winners. People couldn’t be happier for us. We’ve been getting a lot of support and people are happy to see a winning team in Cincinnati.