Looking forward to playing against Central Michigan this week. Obviously, we had a spirited game last week with Clemson. Really was impressed with our crowd and student section, and glad our players came to play. Very tight game against a very good football team, lot of big plays both ways in that game, and really just impressed with the way that our team competed against Clemson.
There are a lot of things we've got to do to improve and move forward. We're a young football team that made some mental mistakes that cost us in that game. So we put ourselves in position for four quarters to play against a very good team.
Now get to gauge our progress after three performances and get ready for a Central Michigan team that last year upset Iowa at Iowa, won a bowl game, and had some young players and some injuries like we do. But I know they'll come in here poised and ready to try to play with us and do what they can to get a victory.
Obviously you coached against
Coach Enos the last two years at Northern
Illinois. Do you feel like you have a good idea
of his game plan going into this game?
Well, I mean, he's got to use the parts he has, and the parts are different than what he had a year ago. Obviously, the tailback, quarterback and receiver that they've lost through injury and graduation, but to answer your question, I know what Dan likes to do. I coached against him when I was at Wisconsin and he was at Michigan State. He's a good football coach and he understands what defenses do and how to try to attack defenses.
I know that he believes in running the football and play-action pass and screens and taking shots. He's a good football coach. Our guys will have to understand the strengths of our defenses and weaknesses of them and be ready to play.
Is the key to beating him kind of
making them one dimensional?
I could say that for any coach you coach against. I think for us it's about not giving up big plays and stopping the run. Those are two things defensively we pride ourselves on is not giving up explosive plays and stopping the run game, and being opportunistic with takeaways. Whoever we play against, that's going to be our goal.
Where do you stand in terms of
games that feature BCS bowl schools versus
non-BCS schools? I know there was talk about
the most competitive games between BCS
schools. So what are your thoughts on that?
I think you have to play some non-conference games against non-BCS schools. I think it's good for both the team you're playing against and for yourself. I'm going to tell you, some of the non-BCS games you're talking about are tougher opponents than the BCS teams. It just depends on who you end up with on your schedule and who they have at quarterback any given year. But I'm in favor of it.
How do these kind of games benefit
you when you're at Northern Illinois, the games
that were against BCS schools?
At that school they have a long-standing tradition of knocking off BCS teams. It's something that the university took pride in doing. There was a lot that went into it before I got there in Coach Novak and Coach Mallory when they started the Bone Yard and those were games we had a chip on our shoulder and were out to prove that we belonged. That is the mantra that most teams will take in that position.
Most coaches will say a win is a win.
But when you're at Northern Illinois, did you
think it was worth kind of more when you pull
off an upset you get national attention and stuff
It makes you relevant. It makes you more relevant at the end of the year for conversations if you're undefeated and you knock off BCS teams. It does matter a lot when it comes down to the end of the season voting if you're a relevant team.
How much does the familiarity that
their staff has of your staff kind of make them
even more of a dangerous opponent?
Conversely, does that help you prepare and
make it easier to prepare for them?
I'm sure both sides feel the same way as far as knowing each other a little bit. But we're a different team than we were at Northern personnel-wise. We don't have a running quarterback like we did there. So we're different. Coach Canada wasn't with me last year. He was the first year, And Dave Huxtable calls defenses a lot different than (indiscernible) did. So even though we're a 4-3 team, the tendencies are different, and some of the cover schemes that Dave likes are different.
So there is some game management familiarity, maybe. On our side we probably have a little bit better advantage than they do just because of the number of different coaches I have with me this year. But their staff has been together and caused the play. So I have a little more familiarity, maybe, with what he's doing.
The fact that you played them and
know how tough they are, didn't they beat you
a couple years ago?
They did. It was the only conference loss I had at Northern. Central Michigan when Chip Kelly was there and Butch was there, they were the best team in that conference for a long time. There are still kids on that team that were championship players. It's a very proud program. They're big, strong, and they're going to look like a Big Ten team on the line of scrimmage. They're big. Their fullback will be really muscular. Their linebackers are tough. They're going to be a physical group.
Does that knowledge kind of help
you convince your kids not to take these kids
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Our kids will not take them lightly, I guarantee you that, because of Richmond. We've had injuries just like everybody this time of year. The Clemson game was a physical game. So our biggest challenge was overcoming the injuries we sustained in that game more than overlooking them, because I think our guys learned a tough lesson and got away with it against Richmond.
I wanted to ask you a little about
Robert Caldwell. Am I right, he was mostly a
special teams player in the past and he's
stepped up and put up some big tackle
numbers in the last few weeks?
He was a late junior college signee for the last half last season. So he got here pretty late and didn't really learn the defense is what I'm told. That's about all they could use him for because he got here late. For us, when I got here, we had to get his grades. We didn't have him on the field the whole spring every practice because we were trying to get him back to where he needed to be from a graduation standpoint.
He's done a great job buying into the strength and conditioning program, lost a bunch of weight, learned the defense during the summer and fall camp and has earned the starting position. So my hat's off to him for his work ethic and how much he's changed since we've gotten here.
Can you talk about what he brings as a
Yeah, he's a downhill player. He's very quick for a big guy. He's one of those guys I call contact players. When he hits you, he hits you. He doesn't drag people down to the ground. He knocks them back. He does have good vision. He'll see misdirection and linebacker vision, which isn't easy to coach, he does have it.
He's just got to work on the details of where he needs to be in formations and certain odds and ends that we're getting.
Clemson ran a lot of unorthodox things that were hard for Robert that I think he learned a lot from and he'll be better from it.