Here are some notes and quotes from the event. Part 2 covers the MAC West. Quotes are by head coaches unless otherwise noted.
(CLICK READ MORE TO CONTINUE . . . )
LAST YEAR 10-3, 7-1 MAC, 2ND IN MAC WEST
2014 MAC Media Poll Rank – 2nd in MAC West
HEAD COACH PETE LEMBO, RB JAHWAN EDWARDS
EDWARDS ON OFFENSIVE LINE
I love my offensive line. Without them, I couldn’t do anything. We’ve been putting in a lot of work this summer – extra - without the coaches being there. I think stuff like that builds chemistry, so that when we come on the field we know what to do without coaching. I feel like as the years have progressed, guys have gotten better. … I’m looking forward to seeing what they are going to do this year.
EDWARDS ON FAVORITE RUNNING BACK MODELS
I was kind of big (when I was young), so I was modeling The Bus (Jerome Bettis) for a while there. … The Pittsburg Steelers were one of my favorite teams. Right about now, I like the way Alfred Morris runs on the (Washington) Redskins, and they run the zone scheme.I like the scheme that we run. We don’t have a lot of tackles for loss in the backfield.
LEMBO ON HIS OWN ENTHUSIASM
When you inherit some great kids (and) when you go out and hand-pick some great kids like Jahwan, how can you not be excited. … I love working on a college campus every day. I love the fact that I can go to work and my family can be five minutes away and my kids can come over and watch practice. … There are a lot of highs and lows in this job, and there are challenges every day, but there is a passion for what we do and how we do it.
ON SOME NON-CONFERENCE CHALLENGES
Iowa is going to be a special opportunity – a great environment. It’s going to be loud. It’s going to be intense. Army’s got a new staff and playing at Michie Stadium – it’s never easy to beat the cadets on their home turf.
LAST YEAR 6-6 5-3 MAC, 3RD IN MAC WEST
2014 MAC Media Poll Rank – 4TH IN MAC West
HEAD COACH DAN ENOS
CATESTROPHIC 2013 START
In our first game, we lost our quarterback; we lost our tailback; we lost our left tackle. … Things happen and through the (flurry) of injuries we had last year, we really gained a lot of experience. I think you saw a football team that continued to grow as the season went on.
PLENTY OF RETURNING STARTERS
We have 19 returning starters on a team that went 5-3 in our league. That brings a lot of optimism.
VALUE OF QB COOPER RUSH.
Anytime you can bring back a quarterback who has played and had success … you’ve got to feel really good about that.
DAVIS ON QB COOPER RUSH
Having Cooper back, I think that is huge. (With) the experience he got last year, that is going to bring a lot to the table for us as a team.
We bring back 91 career starts in our offensive line, which is huge
TITUS DAVIS LEADS RECEIVING CORPS
I believe we have the most explosive player in the league in Titus (Davis). I think we have a very deep receiving corps. He’s really become a better wide receiver every year. … Every year we’ve challenged him to get better in certain areas. … He’s very talented, but his work ethic matches his talent. … He’s one of the hardest workers on our football team … and he’s got a very high football IQ.
What I am most excited about (is) I think our defense has a chance to be the best it’s been since I’ve been there – especially in our front four.
(Linebacker) Justin Cherocci led the league in tackles (and) he is back. He’s played a ton of football. (Defensive tackle) Leterius Walton shed 25 pounds and he had a tremendous spring. He was dominant at times.
We also get (DL) Jabari Dean back, who we lost last year for the season – another 300-pound defensive tackle who played as a true freshman. He was back this spring and played very well.
We’re deep. … We’ve got a lot of guys that played football, and I think we’re going to be a little bigger and stronger.
LAST YEAR 2-10, 1-7 MAC, 5TH IN MAC WEST
2014 MAC Media Poll Rank – 6th MAC West
HEAD COACH CHRIS CREIGHTON
ON THE CULTURE:
“We want to build something people can be very proud of. The foundation for that … has always been people.
It was more of a realization of who we were. … (We were) getting to know our team, getting to know Eastern and the people (of the area) – just blue collar who are hard-working and persevered and endured. … Our guys are that way. They’ve been through a tough time. This last fall was difficult for every single one of them, (but) they stuck together.
ON THE EAGLES OFFENSE:
Offensively, it’s always art and a little bit less science. (You need to) learn who you have, how they’ve been built and applying your principles to that.
I think our team was built to run, and they’ve done that very successfully. That will absolutely be a part of who we are. We might want to spread people out and throw it a little more than they’ve done in the past, so that is probably one of the ways that we are going to look a little bit different.
I think the offensive line has the opportunity to be the backbone of our football team. They have five seniors (and) they are hungry. … They are good football players.
With Brogan, it was his true freshman year, and he ended up being the starter at the end of the year. … You wouldn’t think (he was that inexperienced). Getting to know him and coaching him in the spring, I think he has done a fantastic job. I think his future is very, very bright. He’s the one that has really taken over our team.
Rob Bolden (former Penn State and LSU quarterback) is planning to join us here for the first day of camp.
I think (with) our quarterback position, the one thing it lacked … was experience.
ON BRONSON HILL
He could have a tremendous influence not only on our running game, but our entire football program.
I think he’s got a chance to have a really special senior year.
I look at all the “@” signs. We host Morgan State, and then we are gone for six weeks.
LAST YEAR 12-2, 8-1 MAC, 1ST IN MAC WEST
2014 MAC Media Poll Rank – 2ND IN MAC West
HEAD COACH ROD CAREY AND RB CAMERON STINGLEY
GOOD THING GOING
At NIU, we’ve got a good thing going. We’ve got good players on the field. We’ve had great coaching and the administration is behind us, too.
We knew Jordan (Lynch) was going to be pretty good – just no one else did. Well thee three guys (competing for the job now) are going to be good. We just don’t know who the ONE guy is yet.
ON OFFENSIVE PACKAGES TO SPLIT QB DUTIES
No. I’m not a two-quarterback guy.
We’ve been fortunate. For the last five years, we’ve probably had some of the top quarterback play in the nation. Who ever THAT guy is, that needs to be the guy. ,,, We need to let him lead and let him be himself.
STINGLY ON BEING FLEXIBLE
What ever the coach needs me to do, I’m going to do it.
LAST YEAR 7-5, 5-3 MAC, TIED FOR 3RD IN MAC WEST
2014 MAC Media Poll Rank – 1ST IN MAC West
HEAD COACH MATT CAMPBELL
ON THE 2013 SEASON
We (were) a really young football team. We played nine brand new starters on the defensive side of the football. … It was a learning year, and we kind of knew that going in.
I saw our kids grow, and I saw the toughness and the physicality of our football team continue to go where I want it to be.
We were disappointed we didn’t get to go to a bowl game at the end of the season, but I think it was a great learning lesson for our football team. In life, when you have a chance to control your own destiny and you don’t and you leave your fate in other people’s hands, you’re going to get disappointed, and we were. But I think it was something that carried … our football team into our offseason with a chip on their shoulder.
REPLACING KEY OFFENSIVE PERFORMERS
We’ve got really good players on the offensive side of the football that maybe people haven’t had a chance to see yet
ON QUARTERBACKS AND ALABAMA QB TRANSFER PHILLIP ELY
He came here last year and sat out. Now he’s in great competition. We’ve got three young men that we are really excited about.
The guy who is the starting quarterback for the University of Toledo Rockets this year is going to be No. 1 - a guy who has got great decision making, No. 2 – accurately throws the football and No. 3 who has got great leadership ability.
ON KICKER JEREMIAH DETMER
He’s a game-changer. You get over the 50 yard line and you’ve got a chance to put points on the board. His depth, his range and his consistency are something … you are looking for from a kicker.
When I got the job here, the one thing I said is that we will be ready to contend and win a conference championship when we play championship defense. We’ve worked hard to establish our identity (there).
LAST YEAR 1-11, 1-7 MAC, 5th IN WEST
2014 MAC Media Poll – 5th in MAC West
HEAD COACH P.J. FLECK
FOCUS ON PROGRESS
When you look at the whole body of work in (rebuilding) year one, it was a complete success, and we’re really looking forward to the future. … We’re not worried about how many wins this year, we’re just worried about progressing and changing our best on a daily basis.
We went after the high character kids that didn’t really care what the record was.
People … that is how this program is going to get turned around. That is how Joe Novak turned around Northern Illinois.. ... You do it with people. You don’t do it with systems and buildings.
STILL YOUNG IN LOTS OF AREAS
We could start 14 true freshmen this year. … It’s scary in one way. But in the other way they don’t really know how good they are yet. Sometimes they surprise you.
We have so much youth, but the future is really bright. I’m going to turn them loose and let them play.
TURNOVER MARGIN MUST IMPROVE
You look at every statistic in football in the NFL and college, it’s all based on turnover margin. That’s what our players can buy into. No matter who is on the field, they can buy into, ‘If I take care of the football, we’re going to win games.’ Last year we didn’t take care of the football, and we lost a lot of games. It’s very simple.
MAC WEST WILL BE TOUGH ROAD
I think the West is stacked. I really do.