NCF Nation: Jon Jancek

JK Schaffer works on all-around game

October, 12, 2011
JK Schaffer has always been a solid tackler. You have to be in order to post back-to-back seasons of 100 stops.

But he has provided more than tackles this season. Schaffer has been everywhere for a rejuvenated defense that has helped the Bearcats get off to a 4-1 start heading into their game against Louisville on Saturday.

Schaffer leads the team with 35 tackles. But he is the only player on the defense with stats in each of the following categories: tackles for loss (3.5), sacks (0.5), interceptions (3), pass breakups (three), forced fumbles (one) and fumble recoveries (one).

[+] EnlargeJK Schaffer
AP Photo/Al BehrmanCincinnati linebacker JK Schaffer has had a nose for the ball this season.
In fact, he is ranked No. 2 in the Big East in passes defended (six) and tied for No. 2 in interceptions. He is the only linebacker in the top 5 in each of those categories, which generally feature defensive backs.

Of course, Schaffer is such a perfectionist, he mentions that two of those pass breakups should have been interceptions. Still, what he has done so far has opened some eyes.

"In our defense as mike linebacker, I have a lot of freedom," Schaffer said in a recent phone interview. "I get to drop off the back a lot of times, and that gives me the ability to get depth and read the quarterback. The past four years, that’s all I’ve been working on is reading the quarterback’s eyes and reading when he’s about to deliver the ball.

"It’s come with experience. I’ve played a lot of snaps in the last few years. I watch a lot of film, and usually when teams line up, I can narrow it down to two or three plays they can run. When I do that, maybe I can jump some routes and do well."

Schaffer had one interception last season. His career high is three, set as a sophomore. Linebackers coach Jon Jancek, also the co-defensive coordinator, said Schaffer put in extra effort over the summer to improve himself against the pass. One of the big reasons was because the Bearcats struggled in that area last season, and he wanted to help.

"He definitely is better in some of the coverage aspects, which has led him to getting some interceptions," Jancek said. "He, along with a lot of our players, feel more comfortable in the framework of our defense. His comfort at mike linebacker lends to making plays."

What also has helped is the way he and his teammates are playing more physical this year.

"This is the first time they have been able to run the same defense two years in a row," Jancek said. "You can see the growth taking place at all positions. The guys are starting to feel a lot more comfortable, and that has lended itself to playing faster and more physical. Everyone has an idea of what each position and unit should be doing, and so I think it has added to our overall scheme on defense and allowed us to improve at all positions."

As Jancek says, having an experienced middle linebacker is huge to the overall cohesion of a defense. Schaffer has taken on an added leadership role as well, and was voted a team captain for this season.

Coach Butch Jones has seen Schaffer flourish, and his work ethic has been particularly impressive.

"JK's done a great job of solidifying the unit," Jones said. "He brings a great level of consistency each and every day. He’s been a little more vocal this year … it’s like having another coach on the field. He understands the job of each and every person on the defense. You never have to worry about him not coming to practice. He has one speed and that's full speed."

He may have one speed, but he has more than one way of making big plays happen.

Big East coaching change scorecard

February, 26, 2010
In a world of constant job changes, you need a scorecard just to keep up with who is on the sidelines. So here is your guide to all the coaching changes this offseason in the Big East:



Head coach Butch Jones (from Central Michigan)

Steve Stripling, assistant head coach/defensive line (from Central Michigan)

Mike Bajakian, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (from Central Michigan)

Tim Banks, co-defensive coordinator (from Central Michigan)

Jon Jancek, co-defensive coordinator/linebackers (from Georgia)

Mark Elder, running backs/recruiting coordinator (from Central Michigan)

Don Mahoney, offensive line (from Central Michigan)

T.J. Weist, wide receivers (from Western Kentucky)

Phil Zacharias, tight ends/special teams coordinator (from Central Michigan)


Head coach Brian Kelly and his entire staff except for Kerry Coombs, associate head coach/defensive backs coach



Jon Wholley, tight ends (from Fordham)

Darrell Perkins, defensive backs (from Louisiana-Monroe)


Dave McMichael, tight ends (to West Virginia)

Scott Lakatos, defensive backs (to Georgia)



Head coach Charlie Strong (from Florida)

Vance Bedford, defensive coordinator (from Florida)

Mike Sanford, assistant head coach/offensive coordinator (from UNLV)

Dave Borberly, offensive line (from Virginia)

Kenny Carter, running backs (from Florida)

Ron Dugans, wide receivers (from Georgia Southern)

Mike Groh, quarterbacks (from Alabama)

Clintt Hurtt, defensive line/recruiting coordinator (from Miami)

Brian Jean-Mary, linebackers (from Georgia Tech)


Head coach Steve Kragthorpe and his entire staff except for Larry Slade, secondary



Bernard Clark, linebackers (Hampton)

Scott Turner, wide receivers (promoted from administrative role)


Joe Tumpkin, linebackers (to Central Michigan)

Bryan Bossard, wide receivers (not retained)



Phil Galiano, tight ends (from Florida International)

Randy Melvin, defensive line (from Temple)

P.J. Fleck, receivers (from Northern Illinois)


Gary Emanuel, defensive line (to Purdue)

Joe Susan, tight ends/recruiting coordinator (to Bucknell)

Brian Jenkins, wide receivers (to Bethune Cookman)



Head coach Skip Holtz (from East Carolina)

Rick Smith, assistant head coach/defensive backs

Mark Snyder, defensive coordinator/linebackers (from Marshall)

Todd Fitch, offensive coordinator (from East Carolina)

Vernon Hargreaves, special teams coordinator/defensive ends

Peter Vaas, quarterbacks

Steve Shankweiler, offensive line (from East Carolina)


Head coach Jim Leavitt (fired)

Mike Canales, offensive coordinator (not retained)

Joe Tresey, defensive coordinator (not retained)

David Blackwell, linebackers/co-defensive coordinator (not retained)

Mike Simmonds, offensive line (not retained)

John Hendrick, special teams (not retained)

New role:

Kevin Patrick, from defensive line coach to defensive tackles

Carl Franks, from running backs coach to administrative position



Rob Moore, receivers (from Phoenix Junior College)

Tyrone Wheatley, running backs (from Eastern Michigan)

Jimmy Brumbaugh, defensive line (from Louisiana Tech)

Nathaniel Hackett, quarterbacks (from Buffalo Bills)


Rob Spence, offensive coordinator (not retained)

Derrick Jackson, defensive line (not retained)

Jamie Elizondo, receivers (not retained)

Stan Drayton, running backs (to Florida)

New role:

Head coach Doug Marrone will serve as offensive coordinator



Dave McMichael, tight ends/special teams co-coordinator (from Connecticut)


Doc Holliday, associate head coach/tight ends/recruiting coordinator (to Marshall)