Friday, July 26, 2013

Part three: Coach Enos quotes from MAC Media Day

Here is the third part of what Central Michigan University football coach Dan Enos had to say at Tuesday's Mid-American Conference Media Day in Detroit. Tomorrow, I will have everything MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher had to say during his press conference.

Last year, you played two Big Ten opponents. Your team seemed more at ease on the road at Iowa as opposed to the home game against Michigan State. Do you feel your team might be a little more at ease this year having the high-profile game at Michigan being on the road?
"I feel ease has a lot to do with how you execute. The biggest thing that happened at Iowa is that right after they went and scored on its first drive, we came right back and scored on our first drive. I think that helped our team exhale. I think if they would have scored and then we went three-and-out, the crowd would have gotten into it more and we might have been up against it. I think executing early in the game is important and that is what we are going to try to have to do at Michigan. We're going to try and put our guys in the best position to execute."

How has the stability of the Mid-American Conference helped the league as a whole?
"The one good thing about this conference is that people know who is in it. Some of these other leagues you look at and have to keep track of the schools. We have our branding and everyone knows the schools in our conference."

What does Western weekend mean to you and do you still have a bit of a sour taste from last year's loss?
"I thought that was a football game we could have won. That's how rivalry games go. But we've moved on from that. Our team did a great job of bouncing back the next week. It's a great rivalry. It's personal for everybody. It's personal for our coaches. It's one of the great rivalries out there and one of the great rivalries in the nation."

Avery Cunningham said he is staying at his same safety spot where he was last year. Who will be filling the safety position left by Jahleel Addae?
"There are three safety spots and we're not really sure who the third guy is going to be yet. It's going to be Jarrett and Avery. The third one is probably going to be Kavon Frazier or Tony Annese or Denzel Wimberly. We're still working on how we are going to move those three guys around."

I've noticed that you've recruited a lot of safeties over the past few years. What is the reasoning behind that? 
"You know, we've recruited a lot of running backs. Kavon Frazier was a running back. Brandon Greer was a running back. They also played defensive back. Tony Annese was a quarterback. One year, there were four or five guys that we recruited who were all running backs and defensive back. We try to get guys who have experience playing both sides of the ball and are versatile. Those kind of body types, the 6-foot-1 and 200 or 210-pound guys really work well in terms of versatility. They are big enough to play in the box, but athletic enough to cover a slot receiver or a tight end down the middle of the field."

Do you think this team has what it takes to compete for a MAC Championship?
"I believe we do. We have an improved defense and we have some very explosive players on offense. At the start of the college football season, everyone has questions they have to answer. One thing no one has asked me today is about the loss of David Harman. He was huge for us last year. We have to figure out who is going to play quarterback and we have to replace our kicker. Those are the biggest things we have to do. Do I think we are capable in both of those spots? Definitely. But again, we have to figure out who fill the spots best for our team."

That's on my list. We all saw the leg strength of Ron Coluzzi during the spring game, but does he have the accuracy to get the job done?
"He does. He's very talented. He really worked hard to get better during his redshirt year and he is still finding his comfort level. But yeah, Ron Coluzzi has a great opportunity for us."

You've talked a lot about being bigger up front. It's really going to help the back seven isn't it, just being able to create more pressure in the backfield?
"It's been my goal since I've gotten here to become bigger and more athletic. We've done that. If we can get pressure up the middle and there is nowhere for the quarterback to step up, that's an ideal situation. We have the size and talent to do that this year and that will help everybody."

How is the health of Alex Smith?
"Good, really good. He's been doing everything he needs to be doing and he's headed in the right direction. Doesn't he, Avery? You should ask these guys the questions. Us coaches aren't even allowed to glance at them. If I glance at Avery in his workout gear, I'll probably get in trouble."

Tyler Lombardo and Jake Olson coming along well too? Any other health concerns?
"Yes, Tyler and Jake both look good. Jake is at 308 pounds, somewhere in there. We start camp August 5 and everyone should be practicing."

With the Little Caesars Bowl being uncertain past 2013, was it disappointing with the weather keeping people away from what was a very good football game last year?
"Yeah, it was. I think they said they sold over 40,000 and the game attendance was 23,000. I have to be honest with you, I thought the atmosphere was great. With the weather the way it was, I didn't think there would be that many people there. Some people did unbelievable things to get here. I heard so many stories where I asked someone if they went to the game and they said, 'Yeah.' I asked what they did after the game and they told me they drove home. I would ask what time they got home and they'd say 4 o'clock in the morning. It took my mom and dad and brothers from Dearborn an hour to get here and that is from 10 miles away. I thought the game atmosphere was still electric. But if there had been nice weather and 40,000 people there? I can't even fathom. We really appreciate the effort people made to get here and it really was a great atmosphere. When we came out after halftime, we noticed there were more people here because so many people were late."

Do you think that the lower attendance last year will play an unfortunate factor in the future of this bowl game?
"No. I think they look at ticket sales and there were 40,000 tickets sold. 2.6 million people watched the game on TV. I don't think it has anything to do with it."

You lose Eric Fisher and Darren Keaton from your offense line, but have a few starters back on the O-line and CMU has traditionally had a strong offensive line. Are you pretty confident in that area?
"We have four guys back that have all started games and been productive. We have to find a fifth guy at right guard or right tackle, depending on where we slot Kevin Henry. Not many teams in college football have all five guys back. That'd be nice, but it's not usually the norm. We're very confident that the four guys are going to be productive and that we'll be able to find a fifth. We're going to pick the five best and get them situated."

Have you used Eric Fisher's going No. 1 as a recruiting tool?
"Yeah, we use it as a tool. I don't tell guys that they are going to come in and be the first pick in the draft. But we use it as validity. You can come here and be a first round pick if you work at it. You don't have to go to a school in another conference. At Central Michigan, it's happened twice in six years. What I use it for is to show how our program and our staff develops people coming in. Eric Fisher was developed both on the field and off the field. Now obviously he did it. The way we do things on a day-to-day basis gave him an opportunity to go after his dream."

Is there any added pressure trying to improve upon last year's season?
"I don't put any pressure on myself. Things are going to work out. I don't worry about the outcome. I just try to prepare them every day the best I can and that's what we do. I think academically and athletically, our football team is rising. We're in great shape right now and I like our football team. We've done the very best we can to mold it and I think we'll have a tremendous football team on and off the field. Our first two recruiting classes we're very good and the third one that just got on campus might be the best one athletically from what I understand. I think there is going to be a tremendous future for us."

You had a few departures from last year's coaching staff and hired some replacements. You sound pleased with who you brought into the fold.
"For sure. Gino Guidugli we brought back. Gino was a graduate assistant. He is very familiar with us and how we do things. He is as bright as they get and a superstar in the making in this business. We brought George Ricumstrict back, which was an easy hire. He's done an outstanding job with our defensive linemen in a very short period of time. He's a great person. And then Archie Collins we hired to coach our cornerbacks. Again, good people. They are all character guys. They are going to relate very well to our players. I love our staff and I think we have as good of a staff as anywhere in the country."

Your thoughts on Tim Phillips transferring to Austin Peay?
"I think it is going to be a great situation for him. He graduated from here and will have an opportunity to play down there. We wish him the best."




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