TORONTO - Peter Kuharchek has some catching up to do.
Kuharchek was named the Toronto Argonauts defensive co-ordinator Wednesday by head coach Bart Andrus, who was hired by the CFL club less than a week ago. Kuharchek comes to Toronto with nearly 40 years of coaching experience in the NCAA, USFL, NFL Europe and Arena Football League.
Kuharchek, 61, also has CFL coaching experience, serving as a linebackers coach with the B.C. Lions in 1990 and working with the Montreal Alouettes two years ago in training camp. However, he readily admits he's going to have to brush up on the nuances of Canadian football.
"Twelve guys, unlimited motion . . . I'm going to have to study this game," Kuharchek said from Mobile, Ala., where he's attending the Senior Bowl. "The 65-yard (wide) field, that's a big field.
"I'm not kidding anybody. I know I've got a big job ahead of me."
Andrus and Kuharchek worked together in NFL Europe, winning a World Bowl title in 2000 with the Rhein Fire, then coached against one another when Andrus went on to become the head coach in Amsterdam. Andrus said a trademark of Kuharchek's defences is the units are always prepared.
"They were very prepared for what we had in store offensively and it was always a great challenge to go against a Pete Kuharchek-coached defence," Andrus said in a statement.
Staunch defence was long a trademark in Toronto, but the once-heralded unit fell off dramatically in '08, finishing last in the CFL in points allowed (30.5 per game), touchdowns allowed (60) and rushing yards allowed (162.3 per game) and second-last in total yards allowed (414) and sacks (27).
Kuharchek was a college linebacker at the University of Tampa and was inducted into the school's Hall of Fame in 2002. He said he will adapt the Argos defence to the club's available talent. However, he added the unit will also be a fundamentally sound one.
"My players are going to know what to do and they will be coached," he said. "There are some things that are very similar in all football games: You have to tackle and you have to block.
"But this is a different game and you have to use some different strategy."
Kuharchek will also see some familiar faces in Toronto as quarterback Kerry Joseph, cornerback Jordan Younger and running back Jamal Robertson all played for him in NFL Europe. Joseph, however, suited up as a safety.
"It's been a long time but in 1998, I had a chance to play safety with him," Joseph said. "It was my first time playing at that position but he gave me a lot of playing time and the chance to further my career at the safety position.
"Pete was the type of coach who prepared us well but at the same time, put us in the position to go out, have fun and play the game of football. I think that's why we won the World Bowl because our defence was prepared and played loose."
Added Younger: "Of all the defences I've played on in my professional career, coach Pete's defences were always the most disciplined and the most fun to play on. With the athleticism we have on the Argos defence, we should be an exciting defence to watch in his system."