Butch Jones delivers a message

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There were a few nuggets of news coming from Butch Jones at Tuesday's press conference.


--- TE Ben Guidugli will not play against Oklahoma with his sprained ankle. His status for the game against Miami on Oct. 9 is up in the air. Jones said he would continue to be monitored over the bye week.


--- As was mentioned in Monday's teleconference, Jones again said RB Isaiah Pead will be back for the Oklahoma game. Jones had this to say about Pead's progress after playing a limited amount without a carry against N.C. State:


"He has had a couple extra days to heal and we practiced on Sunday, he looked great. He is going to be full strength ready to go...You take Isaiah out of our offense, too, and we are a different offense. It is what it is, our players respect his play-making ability. He's a player we are going to try to get the ball to to make plays."


--- S Drew Frey's status is still in question after he left Thursday's game with an injury.

Jones said they are still waiting on him and they will monitor his progress during the week.


--- DL Rob Trigg will not play on Saturday.


--- All those pieces of information are important in regards to the Bearcats' chances against Oklahoma, but I thought the overwhelming theme of Tuesday was the nature of the positive message from Jones.


Jones has been good at saying the right things even through some adverse situations from the moment he took over at UC. But I thought the emphatic way with which he stood and professed his belief in all aspects of what the Bearcats are doing at UC was worth noting.


Sure, nobody expected Jones to step forward, start shaking his head and announce that the program is indeed in shambles and they are switching to a triple-option offense taking all the slogans off the wall. Of course not.


But with his program under duress and faced with the challenge of keeping a room of impressionable young men from letting doubt slip into their mind about Jones, his staff or UC, the coach left no doubt about his vision and confidence of UC.


"I am excited where the program is," Jones said. "I am excited where we are headed and there is absolutely zero panic in what we are doing here."


Jones reiterated that message in a number of ways on Tuesday, but for some reason leaving the Varsity Village, that last line stuck out to me.


Say what you will about the disappointments of the first three games of the season - and we will say plenty about those soon enough - but in a situation like this one, this is why you like Butch Jones as your coach.


This is why you hire Butch Jones as your coach.


His formula of creating a family atmosphere and team that believes in each other works. It works because when these teenagers could jump ship mentally and question what this new staff is doing around them, the constant preaching of togetherness and family is done specifically for this moment.


I'm not saying it's for better or worse than any of the previous coaches at UC, but you get the sense this team truly believes in what Jones is saying even if the results haven't equaled those of the past.


"We are not changing in our expectations," Jones said. "Our expectations are to win football games and do it right. I am not going to waver. I am going to lay the foundation."

Jones isn't wavering because he's been here before. He opened his transition in taking over for Brian Kelly at
Central Michigan by going 1-3. That including a 44-14 home loss to North Dakota State. The Chips went on to go 8-6, but won the Mid-American Conference at 6-1. 


Judge how you will about what has happened thus far, but Jones has shown he knows how to rally the troops. His method of coaching is setup that way.


"What's amazing is I had about 30 kids from Central Michigan call me or text me and say, 'Remember that turning point coach?'" Jones said. "We've been through that. Our system, the way we play, the way we practice, what we believe in, it works."


With the UC helmet plastered across the front of ESPN.com on Monday documenting the Bearcats' fall from last season, Jones grinds forward, undeterred. He holds the same blue-collar, lunch pale, full-speed ahead pace.


The last time this program lost two of three games was Oct. 20, 2007. That hasn't dampened Jones' mentality or energy. It's only made his message louder.


"I remain as positive and upbeat as I was when we started camp in August," he said. "Do we have a lot of work to do? Yes, we have a lot of work to do. I knew that coming in. I knew that after spring football, I knew that in August, I knew that when we concluded camp, I knew that at Higher Ground. But to me that is a challenge. I have not wavered one bit in my belief of our players, our program and what we are doing. I expect us to win. I put my head down just like our staff and I continue to work each and every day."


He sees improvement on the offensive line (more on that later). He sees a defense that is a tackle or two away from being very good. He met with players and used the extra days this weekend to evaluate what is going on within the program and the mind of his players.


Jones saw a team reflecting the attitude of its coach.


"So much of the game is mental," Jones said. "It's how you react to things. This is where your will is tested -- your belief system, your belief in your teammates, your belief in the coaches, your belief in the program. Our kids have been unwavering. They have come in, I have met with a bunch of kids individually, we have had a lot of team meetings and they responded the way I would like them to respond."


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maybe you should allow some of your freshman a chance to show you what they can really do. i know you dont really know them well, seems like you kinda are comitted to the upper classmen. just a thought

Rare is the freshman that can solidly compete at this level. Don't burn the redshirts of guys that will lay the foundation for future success.