Joe Tresey is staying grounded

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
10:23
PM PT
Defensive coordinator Joe Tresey has given up his spot in the coaches box to get an up close and personal look at his team from the sideline, and linebackers coach Clark Lea is now the eyes in the sky for UCLA's defense.

Tresey sat in the box for the season opener against Houston but decided after that game he wanted to coach from the sideline and was on the field for Saturday's victory over San Jose State.

"I wanted to be able to look into their eyes," Tresey said. "I wanted to see their demeanors."

It seemed to have a positive effect. After UCLA was torched for 469 yards in a 38-34 loss to Houston in the opener, The Bruins gave up 317 yards in a 27-17 victory over San Jose State. The Spartans had only 136 yards in the second half and only 20 in the fourth quarter.

"He was able to really look at us and judge what was going on," linebacker Patrick Larimore said. "He wanted to see our emotions and how we were feeling on the sidelines and I think it helped with the getting the proper checks executed and communicated. I liked having him down there."

For Lea, in his seventh season as an assistant coach, it is the first time he moved to the coaching box. He said he missed being in the middle of "the helter skelter gameday atmosphere" but understands why Tresey wants to be on the sideline.

"For Joe, it makes a lot of sense to be on the sideline and I think if I were a coordinator, that’s where I’d want to be," Lea said. "He in the end is responsible for each position group. And I think his personality, too, lends itself to wanting to be engaged with the kids."

It's definitely an adjustment, however, for Lea, but he said he's learning to love the new role where his bird's eye view enables him to dissect plays and help get the defense in more prudent alignments.

"When you are up in the box, you can see the big picture and help diagnose the problems and find an answer," Lea said.

Tresey, who said he has alternated between the coaches box and the field throughout his career, is still calling the defenses and has final say in decisions. But being a first-year coordinator implementing a new scheme, he said it is beneficial for him to walk amongst the players for a more direct line of communication.

He said he plans on remaining on the sideline for the foreseeable future.

"It was one of those deals where I felt like they needed my presence in there talking through things," he said. "It’s a little different when you are in front of them physically than when you are conveying it from a headset."

Peter Yoon

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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