Monday, October 29, 2012

10-29 MAC teleconference quotes from CMU coach Dan Enos, WMU coach Bill Cubit

Quotes Monday morning from CMU coach Dan Enos:

On 35-14 victory over Akron:
"Well, I thought we ran the ball very well and effectively especially in the second half. I thought our defense played very opportunistic in holding Akron to 14 points. Akron did a very good job of moving the ball between the 40's and between the 20's, but we had a couple fourth down stops in the red zone that were very key. It's glad to see our defense play better. We forced two turnovers and didn't turn it over on offense. When we did pass the ball, we had the big plays. Titus Davis had a couple of touchdowns. When we can run the ball and then play-action to throw the ball, we are a much better football team. So it was nice to get a win."

On what got the ball rolling offensively:
"The week before, (Tipton) had 17 carries for 126 yards against Ball State and with the way the game went we just couldn't get him enough carries because we were playing from behind. This week we had a lead and were able to get him the number of carries that we'd like to. Zurlon's having a very good year, I think he is averaging almost seven yards per carry on the season. He's been good for us all season and we wanted to get him the ball more. We were playing with the lead, gaining yards on first down and second down and not getting behind the chains. We were able to stay ahead of the chains a little more. The formula just worked this week. We'd like to be able to do that every week, but that usually doesn't happen."

On whether Akron's game gave the team some confidence going forward:
"Absolutely. We're just trying to get a little momentum and win some games. Our guys as I continually say, I like our team. We work hard and we're still not perfect by any means. We still have a lot of work to do and a lot of developing to do as a program, but I like the way our players work. It was nice to see them have some success and get a win because they work hard. This is a tough game and they put a lot in each and every week. To come up with a win this week is big for everyone in our program."

On what he sees from Western Michigan:
 "Well, this is a huge week. What I see is not a 3-6 football team, I'll tell you that. They've been in every game and they are extremely well-coached on both sides of the ball. I've looked at what they've done offensively over the last couple of years and have been very impressed. They use their people very well and have good schemes. It's going to be a challenge. I think their quarterback is playing very well. He is a good player, very athletic, and has a strong arm. Their offensive line is physical and I like their backs. Defensively, they give you so many looks with the 3-4 scheme and the four-down look. Then with their double-angle looks with the center and guard covered. They play a lot of man coverage back there and give you a lot of problems. They've been in every game and just had a break here or there go in a couple different directions. If they were above .500, they'd probably think a lot differently about their year. But as far as this week goes, you can throw the records out. It doesn't matter if both teams are 9-0 or both teams are 9-0, it's going to be a dog fight. It's going to be a great, physical football game. It's a great rivalry. I'm very privileged and very proud to be a part of it."

Further thoughts on the CMU/WMU rivalry:
"This is as intense of a rivalry as I've been in during the years I've been coaching. Being at Michigan State with the Michigan game, this is every bit as intense as that. It's an awesome game. Both teams are very passionate about playing one another and the fan bases are very passionate about it. It's fun. It's great for college athletics in general to have games like this. It's going to be nice to have a 1 o'clock game on Saturday and right now it looks like it is going to be a nice, sunny day. It's great for both teams, it's great for the fans, it's great for college football. It's an honor to be a part of it."

On the benefit of having this four-game homestand:
 "We've kind of gotten into a routine now with everything. It's been good. Our players know now what to expect on Sundays and Mondays and Tuesdays. I know that is a little thing, but for a young team that is kind of a nice thing to be able to get into a rhythm here and a routine."

On the development of Zurlon Tipton:
"He's kind of an interesting story. When I first got here, Zurlon really had some challenges on the field and off the field with maturity. He went through some growing pains his first year. Give credit to our running backs coach Kort Shankweiler and the other coaches in our program. We saw a guy who had a really good heart and was a really good person and could be a good player, but he was underachieving in a lot of the things he was doing in his life. Not just football, but things off the field. So we hit it head-on and had some issues with certain things, but give Zurlon credit because he has really grown and matured as a person the last two years he has been here. Last year, he turned it around academically and turned it around with his attitude and work ethic. He broke his foot in the Kentucky game or else we were expecting him to have the year he has had this year last year. He really started doing things right on the field and off the field. It's unfortunate he had the injury at Kentucky and had surgery. Then he tried to come back a little too early in our last couple of games last year and wasn't himself. You could see that. So this year, he has gotten himself to a point where he is doing everything right. He works hard and is a leader on our team now. He's done a 180 from where he was when we got here. He sets the example for the younger players. He's positive, has a tremendous work ethic, and is doing things right in the classroom. As a coach, this is why most guys coach. Obviously, he loves football and you love those things but just being around young people and watching a story like this. A young man who comes in and maybe a little immature, but he kind of sees that and sees what his future could be. He has an opportunity to be here on a scholarship and he is making the most of it now. It's very rewarding as coaches to see that and obviously the things that happen on the field are just a bonus for us. We're excited about him and I think he is going to continue to have a very good year, then he has another year next year. So he is going to be a good player."

Quotes from Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit:

On what he sees from CMU on both sides of the ball:
"Offensively, they do a lot of the same things we do. They can run the ball and have a very good quarterback in Ryan (Radcliff) along with an extremely good offensive tackle in Fisher. Defensively, they have been rotating some different guys up from but they are big and strong. Their secondary is productive too, so we'll have our work cut out for us. We haven't had a lot of success up there."

On the significance of the WMU/CMU rivalry:
"I've been really fortunate and lucky being around Florida/Florida State, Florida/Georgia, Missouri/Kansas, Stanford/Cal. This one ranks right up there with those ones. You get the feel all week, you get the passion of the fan base. When you get to the stadium, it feels different. They've done a great job holding their homefield advantage and we haven't had a lot of success up there. We've got to go up there and understand (we can win this game). We're not too happy with where we are at in terms of win-loss record and this is a big game for us."

Monday, October 22, 2012

10-22 MAC teleconference quotes from CMU's Dan Enos, Akron's Terry Bowden

Here is what CMU head coach Dan Enos had to say during the Mid-American Conference teleconference Monday morning:

Overall thoughts on 41-30 loss to Ball State:
"I really think it comes down to two things. Our inability to come away with points in the red zone three times. We missed a field goal, we had an interception, and we had a fumble. We didn't get points on any of those turns and then obviously with the way the game goes those turned out to be crucial mistakes. When you are playing an offense like Ball State's, when you have to ball and need to possess it we have to get points. So that was a bit disappointing. And then our inability to stop the run. I thought they did a very good job of running the football. They were persistent with it. Their offensive line did a very good job and we had trouble consistently stopping the run. Usually when that happens, you aren't going to come out on the good end of the deal."

On the keys to being successful in the red zone:
"The thing you have to point out, the first time down there we missed a field goal. So that's a field goal. The next time down there it was third-and-3, (Radcliff) hit a receiver (Courtney Williams) right in the chest and he tried to grab it, it hit him again and it went to the defender. So the quarterback did what he was supposed to do, you just have to catch the football and it's going to be first-and-goal at that point. And then the next time down there, we had an open receiver and the quarterback didn't pull the trigger. Instead of throwing the ball away and giving us a fourth down and a chance to kick a field goal, he tried to make a play and the defensive lineman ended up stripping the ball from him. Their guy made a good play, but he was indecisive. So we talked to him about being very decisive, making a decision, and at least give us a chance to call a fourth down play. We always talk about ending every drive with a kick, so give us a chance to end every drive with a kick. Meaning a PAT, a field goal, or a punt. At that particular point, it would have been going for it on fourth-and-three or we've got to kick a field goal at that time and we obviously didn't get that opportunity. So you point out the mistakes and you continue to move forward."

Impressions of Akron and head coach Terry Bowden's first year running the program:
"I think they are a very well-coached bunch and they play very hard. They do a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. I've been very impressed with watching them thus far. He's an outstanding coach and their guys play hard. So they're doing a real good job and I'm sure they'll continue to get better. I know we're going to face a real good team this Saturday and I know there isn't a lot of difference between their team and our team. So it should be a hard-fought, very competitive contest and we're going to have to play really well to win."

The keys offensively against Akron:
 "Run the ball and don't turn it over. That simple."

About CMU senior wide receiver Cody Wilson:
"He is a great player. He comes to practice every day and works extremely hard. A receiver basically has two jobs - get open and catch the ball. He does that. He gets open and when the ball gets thrown to him, he catches it. He's a competitor. He understands how to run routes and he loves playing. He loves game day. We feel really good about our whole receiving corps and Cody is the leader of that group. He's just an amazing player for the three years that I've been here. He has done an outstanding job."

A couple quotes from Akron head coach Terry Bowden:

Assessing his team's performance in its 37-7 loss to Northern Illinois:
"We hung around as long as we could. When you turn the ball over and make the mistakes we made, we've had a bad (habit) of spotting people 10 or 14 points early in the first five or seven minutes and then try to catch up. We're not that kind of team. That's the difference between what winners do and teams that aren't accustomed to winning. Turnovers, defense, special teams, and things like that.But the bottom line is we played a great football team. There is a reason Northern Illinois has won 20 straight conference games and 16 out of its last 17 games. They were the better football team. And one thing especially is that they are such a strong running team that they overpower you in the second half. That's what they've done to their other opponents and that's what they did to us. For a half, we held them here and there. It was still 13-7 late in the first half, but they just overwhelmed us in the second half. But the great thing about this football team is that guys come here, they know what they faced last Saturday, and they are ready to go. They know they've got a Central Michigan team that is going through some of the adversity that we are. So it's like, here is the next game and both teams are looking at it as a possibility of a win. I see our seniors, we're going to learn from our past losses and mistakes. We're going to grow as a football team. This is a great week to do that again."

Thoughts on Central Michigan's defense:
 "They are like our defense. They don't have the depth of size, they've had trouble stopping people defensively. Man, if you don't stop people you are in ballgames and it puts pressure on your offense. We've had a lot of injuries and lack of depth on ours and they're facing a lot of the same thing. They've played a very tough schedule, they haven't had the game out there where they said, 'Oh, I wish we'd played good. If we play our best, we win.' I don't know if they've had too many games like that. I think their biggest change is like ours, where if their defense stands up they win. But they lack the depth on defense, just like us."

On Akron's running back situation:
"(Jawon Chisholm) banged up his wrist on the kickoff, so he didn't play at all in the second half . He didn't really carry the ball much at all in the first half. We tried to see if he could go. It looks like he'll be ok to go (Saturday), he's gotten treatment. But he just couldn't hang onto the football. It was really bothering him after he got hit in the hand. So we went with Quentin Hines, then Conor Hundley stepped up and did a good job. 53 yards on 16 carries, 18 more on a catch. We don't have any indications yet that Jawon Chisholm won't go. He needs to be healthy, because when he is healthy he is a big part of our offense."

On close teams his squad has played and if they are close to getting over the hump:
"You'd like to think that. There is a thin line between winning and losing. We've played two of the top teams in the conference the last two weeks. If just keep working, I think you'll get over that hump. There are some things we can't solve with strategy here. There are some things we're going to have to solve with recruiting and development and all those things. Whether or not we're over the hump, we have a long ways to go to be at the top echelon of this conference. But I do believe that if you get over that hump and win, it can lead to other wins. I don't think the snowball comes immediately because we are building so much of our foundation and the depth at our positions. I don't know if you can put together as much as you want right away, but if you have two or three good years of recruiting, you pop over that edge and those losses start turning into wins. Right now, we just have to take it one game at a time. Right now, we have a lack of depth at certain positions. But I do know we have a great attitude. Keep at it, keep the great attitude, and play for four quarters. Eventually, you'll pop a few wins."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Keno Davis thoughts from yesterday's open scrimmage

I attended the first hour-plus of Saturday's CMU men's basketball scrimmage and spoke with head coach Keno Davis halfway through.

As far as my own impressions go, here is what I liked:

- The Chippewas play very fast and have plenty of shooters.
- Freshman point guard Chris Fowler along with senior point guard Kyle Randall are the perfect fits for this system. Fowler really impressed me and will be one to watch this year.
- There are plenty of 3-point shooters and guys like Austin Keel will have plenty of open looks in this offense.
- Not a lot of size inside, but it appears that everyone CMU does have wants to scrap and claw for rebounds. It might be a better team in that area than people think, just because Davis stresses the importance of the glass.
- I don't know much about freshman guard/forward Spencer Krannitz other than he averaged 30 points per game his senior year at North Muskegon, but the kid has a very nice shooting stroke. Could be a solid performer in this offense in the years to come.
- Not great defense played by CMU in the scrimmage, but senior guard Finis Craddock stepped into a couple passing lanes and was aggressive defensively. He also ran the point guard spot some and looked confident.

Here is what coach Davis had to say:

His overall thoughts:
"We hadn't had the opportunity to have officials in, we haven't had the opportunity to scrimmage, or have people in the stands. The nice thing about having the opportunity like we have today is to show the fans where we are at, then next week we will have another scrimmage at the same time and hopefully we will have some more fans come. The goal is to improve every day through the hard work that we have shown and continue to show throughout the season."

Who impressed him:
"Inside, Olivier Mbaigoto and Zach Saylor that are coming back for their senior year. They've got a chance to help our younger players. They've been through it before. They've got some size, they've got some strength. They understand what it's going to be like. So you add in some older inside players with some younger players and it should be a good mix."

Talking about his point guards:
"Our number one emphasis in recruiting was finding solid point guard play. Since we knew we would have trouble getting size late and we didn't want to take any projects, we wanted guys that could play right away. We wanted true point guards that could play right away, so I went out and saw every point guard possible. To be able to find two guys like Chris Fowler and Kyle Randall, plus a guy like D.J. Richardson who is playing off the ball right now but working on his point guard play, it really put the ball in place right away for us. They are all working very hard for us."

On whether the team is playing as fast as he wants:
"We're going to be faster as we play against bigger, slower teams. When we play against each other, it's kind of a catch-22. We want to contain the other team in the scrimmage, because that is what they do best as well. It's going to be easier to guard out on the perimeter as we get into the season because our opponents won't have as many good shooters as we have. If anything, this allows us to build up to where we want to be when Nov. 7 hits."

I also asked Davis a couple additional questions about putting the program together and finding pieces that fit his system so quickly, but I plan on using that stuff for a recruiting story sometime in the near future as it gets closer to the start of the season.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Additional Keno Davis Q & A

I met with CMU men's basketball coach Keno Davis yesterday, mostly to talk about community involvement. You can find that story here.

But I also asked him how the team is shaping up since practice started. Here is what he had to say:

Q: How has the team looked in practice so far?
A: We are so far ahead of where we would have been without the summer work, without the mini-camp, without our individual or team work before Oct. 12. When Oct. 12 came, it felt like we had been going for a while and gotten a lot accomplished. Now we are trying to transfer our drill work, our half-court work into a full-court game. It's going to take some time, but we've got a little bit of time here before the first game and we'll have some scrimmages that we will announce to the public. We'll open the doors to give our fans, to give our students, and to give our alumni an opportunity to see this ball club. They'll be excited by watching, they'll be optimistic about the future. But more importantly, when they come back two or three weeks later I think they are going to see improvement in the ball club and that should really be able to get some momentum going our way.

Q: The returners from last year, are they still getting used to the speed of the game?
A: They are. I think especially going before Oct. 12 when we were limited to two hours per week to now where we are going over two hours a day, the speed of the game tends to catch up to you after 20 or 30 minutes of practice where you almost finishing before. Now we're just getting started. So to be able to keep that intensity over a couple-hour practice is something that our guys are not used to, but something where in week two I hope we are a much better ball club and able to get used to the speed of the game and also the length of a game so we are able to win games in the last few minutes. Be the fresher team and the team able to have fresher legs, to have that endurance that you can only learn this time of year. It's too late if you wait until November or December.

Q: Austin Keel mentioned at media day that he played in a fast-paced offense in high school and AAU. Is this a system that is going to benefit him?
A: I think for shooters, to be able to be in a fast-paced game gives you more opportunities to get the ball in shooting areas before the defense gets set. So for guys that are able to shoot the 3-pointer and we have quite a few of them, I think it gives them that opportunity. We just don't have a team built for a half-court game. We've got to figure out how to score in the half-court, how to defend in the half-court. But we are ahead of where I thought we would be for the full-court.

Q: Any particular areas of focus over these next couple weeks of practice?
A: On the offensive end, we're focusing on running the court harder. On the defensive end, we're trying to communicate more and talk more. I think as you improve that, your intensity goes up. Then we are trying to make sure we rebound as a team. I don't think we are going to have the rebounder on this team that is going to be in the top-five in the conference or lead the conference in rebounding. But that doesn't mean we can't out-rebound our opponents. If our point guards rebound, if our off-guards rebound. If our other players are coming up with loose ball rebounds or doing a good job boxing out. And if after each game we win the rebounding margin as a smaller team, I think that shows our fans our intensity and work ethic. It also shows that as we become bigger and stronger, that now we can go from maybe winning the boards by a marginal amount to being dominant on the boards here in the future.

Q: Will maybe some of the biggest challenges be against teams like Eastern Michigan that really like to slow down the pace and work the 35-second shot clock?
A: Being able to control tempo is going to be important for us, to be able to speed opponents up that want to slow down. That doesn't mean that is going to work every night. There are going to be some teams that are just so patient and so slow that even when we press them they'll slow it down again. But I think teams that do that, they give you an advantage in being able to press them in that even if you don't turn them over you haven't given up any buckets on the other end because they'll be patient again. So you get a chance to get steals and be aggressive on the defensive end without giving up those layups and those easy opportunities. So I think teams that want to slow it down even more might give us an even bigger advantage, although we might not get the score up to the number that we would like.

Monday, October 15, 2012

10-15 MAC Teleconference quotes from CMU coach Dan Enos, Ball State coach Pete Lembo

Quotes from today's MAC teleconference from CMU head coach Dan Enos:

Initial thoughts on the Navy game:
"First off, you have to give Navy a lot of credit. They executed and played very disciplined and sound. For us, it basically comes down to five or six plays in the game that we didn't execute. Offensively, we were out of synch pretty much the entire evening. You have to give Navy some credit for that, but we just weren't doing things we were doing the past four or five weeks in a row. So that was a little disappointing. Then defensively, we gave up three big pass plays and against a team like that you can't do that. We were able to get them in 17 third down situations, which meant we were tackling them pretty well on first and second down.We limited their explosive runs to only two, a 12-yard run and a 14-yard run. There were some positives out of it, but at the end of the day we were very disappointed with our execution. We were down at the 4-yard line twice and had to kick field goals twice. When Navy sucks the air out of you possessing the ball, when you have opportunities to score offensively you have to. We weren't able to capitalize on those."

Further thoughts on failures in the red zone:
"We weren't the first kickoff down and had a couple opportunities inside the 10, then we had a penalty. We had a nice play develop on the play where we had a penalty, so we think we would have had a nice chance to score. We cut the score to 17-10 at the half which we felt good about,  then we had a great drive at the start of the third quarter and get a 2nd-and-goal on the 4 and we have to kick a field goal. We could have tied the game at that point, made it 17-17, and we didn't do that. We made it 17-13, then Navy came right back and scored a touchdown. At the end of the day, it comes down to when you play good teams you have to capitalize on your opportunities and we weren't able to do that."

Thoughts on Ball State:
 Very good team, very impressed. They have a lot of older players, a lot of juniors and seniors playing which usually bodes well for your football program. Offensive line, they have a lot of fifth-year seniors in there. Their quarterback (Keith Wenning) is playing at a very high level. Their skill guys are good. Then defensively, I like the way their playing as well. They do a lot of different things in their blitz packages. They do good stuff, they are very well-coached, and they are a very good football team. So it doesn't get any easier, every week is going to be a challenge. We have another home game and we're looking forward to playing again."

On the importance of the next three MAC home games:
"Again, you have to play one game at a time and we feel good about our football team. And our football team feels good. We understand that we didn't play as well as we wanted to on Friday night, but that happens in athletics and not everyone plays like they want to play every week. We're still playing a lot of young guys, a lot of first and second-year players are playing football for us. They're learning every week and every week is a learning experience. You know, we had a true freshman start at safety this week against Navy. A throw goes over his head for a touchdown and it wasn't for a lack of effort or want to, but hey.... you are going to have to learn from that and move on. But ultimately, these young guys that are playing have to grow up fast and our older players have to help them through that."

His impression of Navy freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds:
"I thought he was very, very good. I thought he played with great poise. I thought he executed very well and I thought he was very athletic. So I was very impressed with him."

The reasoning behind benching quarterback Ryan Radcliff and if it will impact his confidence:
"We took him out to see if we could find a spark. It wasn't really Ryan Radcliff. I mean, there were a lot of things going on offensively that weren't getting done and executed. Basically what we did with Ryan, we told him we needed a spark. We had to change something. It wasn't going and we needed to try and create something, so we put Cody (Kater) in to see what he could do. But at this point, Ryan is still our quarterback and it was nothing more than trying to generate a spark with our football team."
Ball State coach Pete Lembo:

On his overall view of Central Michigan:
"I really think Central Michigan has a very good team. They are very talented and physical. They've played a tough schedule so far. They've gotten some good wins and they've been really close in some games against some really good teams. They are a young team like us. I believe they have 10 senior starters, we have seven or eight. So these are two relatively young teams. Last year's game was close and competitive. They had a chance to beat us down here and we were able to come from behind, so I'm sure they'll be hungry for a win against us and excited to be at home. Just like most of our games this year, I anticipate this is going to be another close one."

On Central Michigan offensively:
 "They are very balanced (offensively) and very multiple. So they are going to give you a lot of different personnel groupings and they are going to be able to run it and throw it effectively out of all those sets and groupings. They've got some outstanding skill players. I really like the receiving corps. Obviously, Titus Davis and Cody Wilson are very, very good players in this league. They have some good offensive linemen and tremendous depth at tailback. Just when you think you have a good feel for their depth in the backfield, they have this young freshman (Saylor) Lavallii who steps in and he is a real power runner as well. So I think they really wear you out with their tailbacks and it is a combination of a balanced scheme and good players.

On why CMU has struggled defending the run:
"A lot of it has to do with the schedule they have played. Anytime you play an Academy, that is certainly going to skew your statistics. Then you look at some of the other teams they have played. Southeast Missouri is a heavy running team, then Iowa and Northern Illinois are heavy run teams. So I think a lot of it has to do with the nature of their schedule early in the season. I've been watching a lot of their defense and I do think they are very solid, very sound schematically. Their kids play extremely hard. They play eight defensive linemen so they do rotate some guys into the game. I think they are very physical at safety. So I think a lot of it has to do with the strength of their schedule and what their opponents have done schematically."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Plenty of Keno Davis quotes from CMU basketball media day

Central Michigan held its basketball media day Tuesday and new Chippewas head coach Keno Davis, hired in early April, had plenty to say about his new team. Here are some of the highlights:

Opening statement:
"Since we started our summer workouts, our team has come a long way. I think our staff and players knew that we had that opportunity to have a couple of hours every week during the summer, which couldn't have come at a better time for our team and our program. We knew it was going to be a learning process for us, but our young players and our returning guys have worked extremely hard. When you add our summer workouts to our 10-day minicamp that we had in August to now, from our group workouts to our team workouts we are a different ball club. That doesn't mean we've arrived, it doesn't mean we are ready to step onto the court and compete in the MAC. But it does mean we have an opportunity this year to compete and improve and I really like what I've seen out of the team so far."

When asked about some of the new recruits brought in:
"Being able to get the job in April, one of the biggest question marks for our staff was what kind of talent are we going to be able to bring in so late in the process? But I knew when I took over the job at Central Michigan that the state of Michigan was ripe with talent and very well-coached young men. We were very fortunate this year, whether it's like that every year I don't know. There were some very quality kids and players right from the state of Michigan and the surrounding area. You always feel good about the kids you sign or else you wouldn't sign them, but we've been impressed with the group as a whole and certain guys individually in how good not only they can become but also how good they can be as freshmen.

On whether he brought in the personnel capable of running his up-tempo offense:
"I think there is no doubt. Not only do I want to run an up-tempo style both offensively and defensively, but our team has been built for that. We don't have the players that would compete in a 40 or 50-point game. We have guys that can push the ball. All of our guys can run, all of our guys can shoot. And not just shoot from the inside or the free throw line, but we are going to be a really good 3-point shooting team. We are going to put pressure on the defense by spreading the court and when we do that, we know we can't be primarily a 3-point shooting team. We have to be able to spread the court to attack the basket, get to the free line, and get to the basket not just by being a true post-up team. Then defensively, we have to know that we are going to be more of a full-court pressure team or three-quarter pressure team so we can get the score in the 90's. I think that will be exciting for not only our team, but also our fans and students. I think it will be exciting for our recruits, too. When they are able to come watch us practice or play, I think it is going to be a style and system that is going to attract student-athletes to Mt. Pleasant."

When asked about if his team is ready for the tough non-conference schedule:
"No, I don't think we are ready for that. It's a tougher schedule than I would have liked. But again, scheduling takes place a lot earlier much like recruiting. And when we had opportunities to play at Michigan or PAC-12 member Utah or down in El-Paso, we felt like the experience of playing in those tournaments or those high-profile games will help us down the road in year two or year three of our staff. But that's also for when MAC play rolls around. Those games, whether you win them or whether you lose them, it's how much you learn from that. I feel pretty confident that regardless of the outcome of some of those games, we'll be a better team going forward.

On how his one-year stint at the Big Ten Network helped him in terms of coaching:
"I think the opportunity for a basketball coach to take a step back and be in broadcasting (was great). I mean, you see a lot of coaches go that route for one reason or another and what it allowed me to do was evaluate everything I do offensively and defensively with game plans and strategy. By not only reflecting on what we did, but looking at other programs and being at practices. You maybe don't change your overall way of doing things, but you pick up a little thing here or a little thing there and get a real chance to improve as a coach. You've got to improve as a coach each day, each year. I think that time was invaluable for me. As far as giving us an advantage against the three Big Ten opponents on our schedule, I don't know if that is going to give us anything more. I think that so many games are on TV and everyone is so well-scouted that I don't see that being an advantage, but if it is I'll take it."

On if any one or two individuals have stood out beyond what he thought their skill set was:
"I don't know if any one player has really stood out in their skills from what we thought when we recruited them. If there was one thing that exceeded our expectations, it is the point guard play, that of Chris Fowler and Kyle Randall. They have the experience. Kyle Randall graduated in three years from UNC-Greensboro and Chris Fowler not only being from a premier program at Detroit Country Day but also being down at IMG Academy for a year. I think those the experiences from that maybe gave them a step up on day one to be able to lead a young team. So I think maybe the point guard play. I think in the overall concept we might be above where I thought we would be. We have the ability to hit the 3-pointer from every position on the court. Guys like Blake Hibbitts and John Simons as freshmen, you wouldn't know they are freshmen. They can step out and shoot the basketball. They are going to be really big matchup problems for bigger, stronger players that are going to try and defend them from the outside. On the defensive end, we have to figure out how we are going to defend bigger and stronger players on the inside."

Asked what is the biggest change that needs to be made from last year's team:
"I've tried not to watch much game tape from last year. I think one reason is because from last year's team to this year's team, we have very few returning players and the players we have back we're not playing that much. I wanted to try and be as open-minded as I could with our new players and our returning players about how I saw them and give them an opportunity to be on the court. I wanted them to decide it on the court and not come in thinking they are at a certain position or going to play a certain amount of minutes. I wanted to stay away from that. And yet I think that when I saw them after we had a couple workouts during last year's school year, I think the ability to run harder and rebound harder and play harder kicked in because we're going to rotate players in and out more due to the speed in which we are going to play. So you have to learn how to pace yourself. You have to learn that it might be one or two times down the court, then you are subbing in. To be able to go that hard, now we're able to pick the speed up and we're able to play more guys. Then as you get your wind and understand how to play that hard, you can go from a play or two at a time to a minute or two at a time knowing that once they develop that consistency your best player might be on the court the entire game. But he's not pacing himself anymore, he's going like the game is on the line each and every possession."

On team depth:
"I think right now we have 11 players that could be in the rotation. I've never played an 11-man rotation, but I know the benefit of having 11 men right now. They know when they go against each other there is great opportunity and great competition for starting positions, for playing time. I don't think there is a player on the team that is confident that they are going to start and that is unique. You would like to have the all-conference returner pegged in as a starter, that would be nice to have. But since we don't have that, I think we are going to have great competition next week to look for those spots and to look for that playing time. How deep we go, I think it's important that we be flexible and know how many minutes each guy is going to go. And how many guys we are going to rotate in the first half and the second half. We'll see in the next two or three weeks whether they start distancing themselves and make those decisions for us."

When asked about his active presence on Twitter and social media in general:
"It's @CoachKenoDavis (joking). I think what's important for us is that, while social media has been around for several years now we don't really know as coaches how important that is to us. I think most coaches who dismiss it as a tool are making a mistake. Because the young man who might come visit your school might do that because he follows you on Twitter or follows you on Facebook, just something that small. That's not going to be every student-athlete that you are going to recruit, but that is maybe going to be the one guy that could be the guy that is the difference-maker in turning you from an also-ran in the conference to being an all-tournament team. The other thing I think is it's important to be connected to our fans and our students. For us to be really successful in the NCAA Tournament, to have success in the conference tournament... we aren't going to be able to do it with our talent alone. And we can't do it on winning first to fill the seats at McGuirk. We have to fill McGuirk before we win conference championships, knowing that if that place is full we are going to win a couple more games here. If we can win a couple more games here, that could be from 18 to 20 wins. Or 19 to 21. Or a losing season to a winning season and really get the ball rolling, but we are trying to use everything we can to try and connect with our fan base and connect with our students, while also connecting with our future recruitable student-athletes. Social media is just one avenue that we are using."

On whether he has looked at tape from other MAC schools:
"I haven't watched one second quite honestly of another MAC school. I've been watching tape of ourselves on our workouts, on things we need to improve on. We've been working on recruiting, working on fundraising, working on filling the building. There are probably about 20 different areas where we feel we have really improved the program for the future. We'll have time to look at other MAC schools once play starts, once non-conference play starts. I really have been pleased with my staff and I think the combination of their skill has allowed us to be successful in recruiting as well as make improvements on the court. I think the head coach tends to get a lot of the praise or a lot of the blame when you win or lose, but really it's that assistant staff you have that's going to be really important to the success of your program. I know we've got a really good one. Once the season starts, they'll start breaking it down and we'll divide the scouting amongst the assistant coaches. Anyone that can watch tape and start breaking those opponents down so that when they get the game plan and game report to me, I'm going to be very confident that we'll be able to use that to the best of our ability."

What the team's identity is going to be:
"We're still as a team trying to develop that identity. They are trying to live up to what we as coaches and as a program want our identity to be. What we want our identity to be as fans come to McGuirk - our fans, students, season ticket holders - we want them leaving the arena believing that Central Michigan basketball team did not get outworked. That we were the team playing harder, that we were the team diving on the floor, the team running the court harder, the team that looked like they wanted to win more. Offensively and defensively, we want to be an up-tempo style basketball team. We want to be a team that gets to the free throw line, that gets to the 3-point line, and keeps the other team off it. So I think the hard work and versatile players in our program combined most importantly the character of our team to be strong, we want our team to have the best GPA of the basketball teams in the MAC. We want to be ranked nationally in GPA and we want these young men as they graduate to get great jobs in whatever they want to do after basketball. That is going to be the best recruiting for our program down the line. I don't think you are going to be successful on the court unless you have high-character young men in the program. That is a testament to the assistants to be able to find these young men and to be able to bring them to Central Michigan and be able to continue to do so. That's also an attribute to our guys, when you get a chance to meet our players they are high-character young men. I think especially with the young players coming in, that they already have that part to them, they have a chance to become much better basketball players than they already are. They are guys that are taking care of business, they are doing well academically, they are staying out of trouble, they are taking care of their studies, they are in the gym and doing those type of things. I think you are going to come back in a year or two and see that the guys that are freshmen now that they really improved. Well, they improved because of their character and what they were able to be about when they got here."

Monday, October 8, 2012

CMU coach Dan Enos' quotes from 10-8 MAC teleconference

Central Michigan head coach Dan Enos spent about seven minutes on Monday morning's MAC teleconference. Here is what he had to say:

His overall thoughts on the 50-35 loss at Toledo:
"We played very well at times. We led at the half and just couldn't hold on. Defensively, I thought we played very well at times. We forced three turnovers, but unfortunately threw the two interceptions in the fourth quarter that really overshadowed the defensive effort. But we played against a very good Toledo offense and got some sacks and the turnovers and it's a step in the right direction. Offensively, we scored 35 points but had a chance to score more and couldn't capitalize. You have to give Toledo credit for that."

On how CMU established the early two-possession lead:
"We played good defense. We forced some turnovers and three-and-outs that we capitalized on. One of the big things is that we had a key third down towards the end of the half and we had a dropped pass which forced us to punt. Toledo came back with a really nice drive to make it 21-17 at the half. I think if we could have kept the ball there and at least gone in to the half ahead 21-10, that's another possession we would have liked to have. When you are playing good teams and in close games, those are the kind of things as a program you need to look back at and learn from in just how important they are."

On punt team coverage the past couple of weeks:
"We had a couple this week with tackles inside the 15 or 20-yard line, but then we had two obviously not so good ones. I think the main thing is just lane integrity running down and then we had some missed tackles. The big one on the return for touchdown, we had two or three guys in position to make the play which would have made it a 10 or 12-yard return, but you have to give Toledo's returner credit for a great cutback. We had a couple guys there who weren't in proper lane coverage and we couldn't keep him on the sideline. It's an area where we have to improve. We spent time today on it in practice and we spend time every day on it."

His thoughts on the national TV game against Navy:
"It's great that it is on TV and against a program like Navy. They have a great tradition there and their coach does a great job. Their young men there work really hard and they obviously are just just working at football, but will also be serving our country. It's great to be able to play Navy again and host them here. There are some challenges with the short week against a type of team you don't see very often. They are very well-coached and we are looking forward to competing against them. It should be a great game."

On playing at home for the first time in five weeks:
"It's a big lift. When we saw the schedule, we knew it was going to be a tough stretch. We had to play Michigan State and Iowa, then two of the better teams in our league the past couple of years in Northern Illinois and Toledo. It was going to be a tough stretch on the road, but that is what tough situations do. They help build character and toughness and make you more resilient. Our guys handled it very well. We obviously came up short the last two weeks, but at times I thought we were a very good football team. We're looking at this opportunity with four in a row at home, we want to go 4-0 at home. This week we just want to get to 1-0, but we're looking forward to playing in our home environment and in front of our fan base and alumni as well."

Enos also received a question from the Des Moines Register about the similarities and differences between Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell and Iowa running back Mark Weisman. Since this doesn't really have any relevance to anything in CMU's past week or upcoming week, I'll just say that Enos mainly just said they are more similar than different and both play the game the right way. He added he would not pick one over the other.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What CMU wide receiver Cody Wilson had to say after Wednesday's practice

I spoke with CMU senior wide receiver Cody Wilson after Wednesday's practice. He is currently sixth all-time on the Chippewas' career receiving yards list (2,175) and fifth all-time in career receptions (180). He is within seven catches of fourth place. In addition, Wilson has caught a pass in 33 consecutive games he has played in which is tied for third nationally with West Virginia's Tavon Austin.

On moving up the CMU historical rankings:
"Obviously, I don't check those things out too much. Sometimes you see them before games, after games. I guess for me it's more of a career thing, day in and day out performing at a consistent level. I take pride in those things because it's not a one-day thing, it's playing at a consistent high level over a long period of time. So that means a lot to me, to see what you've done in your career and that you've made a mark a little bit."

On returning from his toe injury and shaking off some rust:
"Those first two weeks, I thought I was ready to go but honestly looking back I was only playing football for two or three weeks before the opener. I think going into the Michigan State week and after that I really started getting into a groove and comfortable again. I've been playing faster and reading defenses better. I think there was a little rust to shake off, but I feel good playing again."

On making key third down catches that move the chains:
"I think being a slot guy, that is sometimes your identity. I kind of like that role. It's keeps the chains moving, it keeps the offense going. I kind of embrace that. I don't know if the coaches are doing that on purpose, but it's fun to get those opportunities and kind of be known for that."

On how the offense appears to be hitting its stride:
"I think we've been executing really well and I think everyone's been doing their job. The offensive line has been really good and it's helped the receivers get open and the running backs find holes. When the wideouts get open, we're going to make plays. It's something we need to continue moving forward with, but yeah I think we've been moving the ball pretty well lately."

On the two turnovers against Northern Illinois:
"Even going off that last question, that's the one thing we need to fix. Right now, we are just kind of beating ourselves. When you want to win football games, you can't beat yourselves. Those are the things we have to eliminate. It's the thing that stopped drives last week and stopped momentum. I think the game was a lot closer than it appeared on the scoreboard and the reason it wasn't was because of those turnovers."

On going against Toledo's Cover Two defense:
"I just kind of worry about what I have to do. Obviously, I pay attention to what Toledo is doing too, but I guess I don't really have a preference what defense is being played. It's my job to get open no matter what defense it is. Hopefully I do what I need to do and that's getting open and catching the ball."

On the importance of the Toledo game:
"I think it's a really big game. Last week didn't really go how we wanted it to go and now we weren't really in control of our destiny in the MAC. So this is a big game. The goal going into any season is to win a MAC championship, so to have any realistic chance we need to win this game. So this is a big game going there and playing a very good team. So we're looking forward to it, it's a really good opportunity for us."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Quotes from Monday's teleconference

Here are some quotes from CMU head coach Dan Enos following Monday morning's Mid-American Conference teleconference, plus a quote at the end from Toledo head coach Matt Campbell.

Dan Enos quotes

On Saturday's 55-24 loss at Northern Illinois:
"First off, I'd like to say what a good job Northern Illinois did. They executed very well. We had a chance in the third quarter trailing 27-21 on a third down play where we had a receiver open, but Northern Illinois got a fortunate interception on a tipped ball and did a good job in the fourth quarter (to put it away). I didn't think we tackle very well on defense and I thought we were out of position at times. We lost our focus and discipline there. On offense, I thought we played well at times but we didn't capitalize on all our opportunities." 

On how WR Cody Wilson, QB Ryan Radcliff, and the rest of the passing game performed:
"Cody is very good and has had over 100 receiving yards each of the last two weeks. I thought Ryan missed about two plays in the game, but other than that he was very good. He gave a chance. It was uncharacteristic of our team, but we had about five dropped passes. We had times where had a chance to make it a closer game or take a lead. We had a play where we had a go route and Ryan made a great play, but we cuffed it at the 3-yard line. I think Ryan did a fine job and I think Cody Wilson is an outstanding player. If we can get better play out of some of our other wide receivers and take some of the pressure off Cody, I think that will make our offense more balanced and productive. We had almost 500 yards of offense, but we still felt we left a lot of plays out there."

On another tough road test at Toledo:
"They put us on the road our first two MAC games, at Northern Illinois and at Toledo. That's how the hand worked out, so we'll move forward. This is another good football team in Toledo. They play well at home and we know that. It's going to be another tremendous challenge for our football team, but we have a hungry group of guys that want to bounce back and play better than we did last week."

On playing another potent offense:
"It makes it harder. They do a lot of different things and their quarterbacks are very good. They have good skill guys and get guys out in space doing different stuff. Northern provides different challenges than Toledo (and vice versa). Every week is like that and it's going to be a challenge every week in this league. I think there a lot of teams playing very well on the offensive side of the ball."

On the CMU rushing attack:
"I'm very pleased with what we are doing there. Our last three opponents have been Michigan State, Iowa, and Northern Illinois. All three of those teams are very good we've still managed to run for over 100 yards in two of those three games, so I like how we are running the football. The game this past weekend we were behind, so it dictated that we had to throw the ball a little bit more than we would have liked obviously. But we are continuing to try and stay patient with the running game and stay balanced. That will help everybody."

On what Enos has seen out of his team in the couple of days since Saturday's loss:
"We have a pretty level-headed group. One thing I wanted to see on film is if we made an error somewhere or didn't have the kids in the right mental frame of mind to play. I didn't see that. I think we played hard for four quarters, for 60 minutes. Like I mentioned, I don't think we tackled very well at times and got out of position on defense. I think Northern Illinois has very good skill players. I was very impressed with its quarterback, its running backs, and receivers. They converted on about four or five 3rd-and-10's. If we can get off the field on even half of those, it gives our offense more possessions and we weren't able to do that. I thought we played hard and were well-prepared. We ran into a good football team that executed a little better than us."

Toledo coach Matt Campbell quote

On what he sees out of CMU:
"First and foremost, I see an offense that is really coming into its own. Ryan Radcliff is really playing well right now at the quarterback position and has a lot of confidence. He looks like how a fifth-year senior should be playing right now. He is really the (center) of it. I really like their stable of running backs and receivers and I think they have really good talent across the board offensively. Turning it around to the defense, I see a lot of guys that have played a lot of football for them. They are playing with great speed, tackling really well, and not giving up a lot of big plays. I see a team that is playing with a lot of confidence and was really in the thick of things well into the fourth quarter at Northern Illinois. It is a team that looks very, very well-coached."