Eastern Michigan head coach Ron English discusses why 2013 is an important year for his football program
English sat down with me at last week's MAC Media Day to talk about his 2013 Eastern Michigan squad and why this year is so important.
What does Stan Parrish bring to the table as an offensive coordinator and what kind of identity is he trying to bring to your offense?
"I think he has proven he can score points. I have coached against him several times and he's been difficult to defend. So I knew a lot about him. I knew what he did and what he likes to do. He's going to be multiple. But he's just a guy with a proven track record and I have a lot of confidence in him to do what he needs to do."
Is Tyler Benz the quarterback or is there a competition there?
"Right now, Tyler is the quarterback. He had some good games and some not-good games last year, but what he did gain was valuable experience. I think he has the ability to be very good, particularly with Stan developing him."
He has a couple very talented running backs to hand off to (Bronson Hill and Darius Jackson) along with an experienced offensive line. You have to like the talent on the offensive side of the ball.
"No question. It's a team that should score a lot of points. Stan's going to put guys in the right positions and use his weapons. I feel really good about our offensive football team."
A couple of the main areas of concern last year defensively were the lack of creating turnovers and pressuring the quarterback. Do you feel you've made improvements in those areas?
"Not only those two things, but we couldn't stop teams from running the football. When you can't stop the run, you allow teams to be multi-dimensional. To me, you've always got to stop the run first. But our team speed is such that I think we will limit big plays. That's the second part of playing good defense. You need to make teams have to drive to score. If you give up chunks, you're going to give up a lot of points."
Do you feel the pressure to win this year?
"You know, I've been doing this 21 years. There are always expectations, but more than that I am concerned with developing players. I'm in a role where I can have a significant impact in developing players. I've probably had more fun since January than I have had in four years here."
I know you have done some fun things over the offseason such as skydiving. What has been the reasoning behind these side activities?
"It's fun and helps bring attention to the program, but it's also to bring in revenue. We are a program that has to generate outside sources of revenue to move forward. I think if you look at our conference, all of our teams are continuing to move forward with their facilities and so on and so forth. That's all we're trying to do. We're continuing to move forward."
What are the keys to becoming a bowl eligible team this year?
"Health is always number one, but we also need to develop some depth. I think we just need to have the mindset that there is going to be some adversity and we have to keep moving forward. And when we are playing well, continue to play well. That's the biggest thing. How do you handle all the different things that are going to occur during the course of the season?"