Michigan State's new offensive coordinator is a very familiar face.
Dan Roushar has been elevated from offensive line coach to the coordinator role, a position he held at four schools, including Illinois, before joining Mark Dantonio's staff at Cincinnati in 2005. Roushar takes over for Don Treadwell, who left for the top job at Miami (Ohio). He inherits an offense that showed decent promise in 2010, and the Spartans bring back two-year starting quarterback Kirk Cousins.
I caught up with Roushar earlier this week. Here's the first half of our conversation.
How did this come about? Did you approach coach Dantonio about the position or did he come to you?
Dan Roushar: Always in coaching, when you work for a guy like coach Dantonio, each and every year he asks what your goals are and I always aspire to have as much responsibility as I can. With the timing aspect of Treddy leaving and things are going pretty good, he wanted to stay within philosophies, so we talked about it and he talked with everybody on the staff. We had some strong candidates, and he made the decision to go in this direction.
How important was the familiarity factor for him and for you?
DR: That's the root, a large part of it. I've been with him six of his seven years as a head coach. I know he wants to be very balanced on offense but wants to be able to run the football effectively. That part is in place. Through some of his experience in his past coaching career, it certainly has had an effect on the decisions he's made and makes now. So this is an opportunity for him to stay within the organization, and I think he was able to look and see the job that was done with the entire staff and the football organization while he was gone this year [recovering from a heart attack]. I'm just thankful for the opportunity.
How similar is your philosophy on offense to what coach Treadwell did the last few years?
DR: I'd say it's pretty close. We all worked hand in hand in developing our philosophies, trying to play to our strengths, being able to try to have balance both in run and pass, feeling like we have some playmakers on the outside so trying to involve them. I'd say it's very similar.
So you're going to keep the pro-style offense? We're not going to see Oregon's scheme in East Lansing this season?
DR: I think we're suited to a certain style with our quarterback play, and as we've tried to evolve, we've tried to be physical. We think that complements our defense. I know you won't see Oregon's offense.
What were the strong points for the offense last year and where do you still need to get better?
DR: There were times where we ran the football pretty effectively and yet there were games like Northwestern, where we fell behind very quickly and we got away from the run game and yet we were able to keep Kirk and he was able to throw for a lot of yards and bring us back. When everybody in the stadium knows you have to run the football and you can, you're pretty effective. And when everybody in the stadium knows you have to throw it and you can throw it effectively, you're moving in the right direction.
When I look back on last year, there were moments when we were able to do both of those things when required, and yet we got whipped in Iowa City and we got whipped in the bowl game. We understand we've got an awful long way to go.