The Arizona Wildcats finalized their coaching staff on Wednesday with the hiring of Jeff Casteel, David Lockwood, Bill Kirelawich and Spencer Leftwich. Head coach Rich Rodriguez has worked with Casteel, Lockwood and Kirelawich at West Virginia and his familiarity with the three will pay dividend as practice begins. While everyone in Tucson is excited for the future of Arizona football, I thought it would be interesting to see what those in Morgantown thought of their three coaches heading west.
I recently asked WVUIE97, the lead writer for the excellent WVU blog, The Smoking Musket, about the coaches and what the UA should expect from them.
Q: Most fans know about Casteel and his background, but what can you tell us about coaches Lockwood and Kirelawich? Did anything about their time at WVU stick out to you after all these years?
A: Coach Kirlav is basically a WVU lifer, joining the staff back in 1979 and serving WVU football in some form every year since, mostly as the DL coach. The usually salty coach is always good for a quote and telling it like it is. He's always seemed to get more out of unheralded players than most not knowing his history/prowess would imagine. Kirlav is also a decent recruiter, at least in his usual territory of western PA.
Coach Lockwood is a WVU alum who was a defensive stalwart on the 1988 undefeated team. Lockwood moved around a bit, including a stint as a coordinator before coming home to WVU. He's a good recruiter and an excellent coach of technique. Many credit him for turning Keith Tandy into the player he developed into. The previous CB coach, Gibson, who I believe also is joining the Arizona staff, wasn't big on technique, at least not when he was a WVU. Players have stated that he would tell them, "just get to the spot." Lockwood came in and changed that, and with that change came nice strides of improvement in the cornerbacks.
Losing Casteel is tough, but these two were my favorite defensive coaches because we were usually confident with what their players would do on the field.
Q: Among the three coaches heading to Tucson, which ones tend to be known as the primary recruiters of the bunch?
A: Kirelawich was a decent recruiter, but not really of note. Casteel wasn't known as a recruiter much. Lockwood gets this title on reputation of these three. I have to admit my following of recruiting usually isn't focused on who is the lead recruiter on a target player.
Q: What are you overall thoughts on the 3-3-5 scheme? Most of us have never seen it in action other than on TV here and there. What are your favorite things about it and what can sometimes go wrong or present problems?
A: It's a quirky system that relies heavily on two things. 1. Players who understand the defense and sticking to their assignments (the longer in the system, the better it works). 2. A big nose guard who can clog the middle and chew up blocks, often taking on two offensive lineman at a time. If you have those two things, then Casteel can dial up blitzes from multiple angles and personnel, often confusing the offense. It can also be termed a bend-don't-break defense at times. There have been multiple times when the defense has had a hard time getting off the field, yielding long drives, but usually clamping down in the red zone.
A big thanks to WVUIE97 for answering these questions. You can find him covering WVU over at The Smoking Musket.
There will be an introductory press conference on Friday morning introducing the new members of the UA coaching staff. Once that wraps up, three huge weeks of recruiting begin before National Signing Day takes place February 1.
For more on the Wildcats, head on over to AZ Desert Swarm.