Northern Illinois coach Rod Carey talks BCS, Jordan Lynch, Iowa opener, etc.
Coach Carey talked to me about hopes for the 2013 season, Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch, and several other topics including the battery life on my phone for recording all morning. It was right around 70 percent a few hours in, which seemed to amaze him.
Taking over the program, has it been a seamless transition for you?
"It's not seamless. I don't think there is anything seamless. When you switch coaches, you have to get to know each other for quite a bit of time. Is it more seamless than when we all came in with Coach Doeren? I think so. Because there is already familiarity and we already knew each other. But seamless? No."
Has the BCS berth paid dividends for the program in terms of recruiting? More attraction to the program?
"It's gotten us into more conversations. But you have to be careful with that stuff. You can't get distracted with the really cute girl and away from the girl you've been taking to the dance the whole time. Because she may dump you. And she's pretty cute. So what we've been doing what we always have and there hasn't been a whole lot of reason for change."
How do you improve on a BCS appearance? Isn't it a bit of a challenge to do that the year after?
"Now that is the first time I've been asked that. I've been waiting for that question for three months for someone to ask me that question. How do you improve on a BCS appearance? What's the next step? That's a good question. I don't know. I guess the natural one would be a national championship. That's the next step. But for us, it comes down to each day and what we're doing. I wouldn't be arrogant enough to say put national championship down on paper, but I'm also not going to put anything by my players. I think they have the ability to do whatever they want to do. However they make this their team and take that leadership forward, we'll go as far as that."
Do you try to temper the expectations or roll with them?
"Expectations are great. That means people think you're pretty good, right? That's a good thing. If someone doesn't have expectations, they probably don't think they are worth anything. And I always say that no one has higher expectations for us than us. So I don't worry about outside expectations and I know these guys don't either. They worry about what's going on in the weight room. What's going on on the field. Day in and day out, they try to take care of the little things."
From watching Jordan Lynch in the spring, where has he made his biggest strides?
"I think he got better with his feet throwing the ball. Now listen, his feet were good before when throwing the ball. But some of the nuances when you are throwing left or throwing right when rolling out, some of the details with that he has made a lot of improvements on."
Is Akeem Daniels the guy at tailback or are there others figuring into the mix?
"Akeem obviously had a great end to the year and he's looking to move forward on that. Unless you have someone really special and I think the kid at Toledo (David Fluellen) is really special, but even with a special player you have to rotate. So there are going to be other guys in the mix. Guys can't last the whole season anymore. It's too rough and tumble of a game."
Do you have a gamebreaker who can replace Martel Moore?
"Boy, we'll see. We've got some good candidates. I'll tell you that. Tommylee Lewis, Daron Brown, Juwan Brescacin, Angelo Sebastiano. I could go down the list. We've got guys and we'll see who does it."
You only have about four starters returning defensively. Do you have confidence in the players who will be filling those roles?
"Yeah, I think so. We've got a lot of guys who've played a lot of football around here on defense. But now those players who were maybe role players are going to be starters. How they handle that transition is going to be the key to our defense."
Iowa was your one regular season stumbling block a year ago. Are you looking at the season opener as a revenge game?
"No, because you can't go back to Soldier Field and play that game with the same teams. Both are new teams and we're at Iowa. I just think we all look at it as a great challenge. And it's the most important game on our schedule because it's the first game."
Have you watched what Central Michigan did at Iowa last year to help prepare your team?
"Oh yeah, I've watched that game. A bunch of times."
Is it true that opposing teams gun a little harder for the team at the top?
"No offense, but I've been asked that question a ton today. I think that is you guys. The media picks a target and finds a good story. Whatever word you want to attach. I think that's fine. For us, it's not about that. It's about what we're doing each day to get better. That's the biggest thing."