New Central Michigan coach Dan Enos has a tough job ahead of him when the Chippewas open spring practice today.
He’s charged with continuing a streak of winning seasons and conference titles, but he has to do so without quarterback Dan LeFevour, one of the most prolific players in college football history.
It’s an unenviable position, but Enos isn’t worried. He believes in the players he's inherited and thinks his Chippewas can pick up right where they left off even without their star player.
In Part I of two-part Q&A with Enos, we talk about what he has coming back this season and the challenges he faces this spring.
I guess the biggest question is, what are you going to do at quarterback now that Dan is gone?
Dan Enos: Yeah, at quarterback we’ve got to find a guy to replace obviously, a great player, a productive player. It’s like we tell our staff and we told our team, one person is not going to replace his production. It’s going to have to be a team thing. We’re optimistic having such an experienced offensive line and tight ends returning that that’s going to help our quarterback, whoever that may be, take some time in his development and be able to take some pressure off of him to where he gets to a point where he’s comfortable. We think we’ve got some good young quarterbacks there that are really working hard and I’ve been very impressed with them.
DE: I know we lost a couple of guys who caught a lot of balls, but Kito Poblah is back and he caught a bunch of balls last year and made plays. We’ve got some other guys that played, Cody Wilson and some other guys that played and caught not quite as significant a number. We’re very optimistic that the other guys, the young receivers, and some of the other guys that didn’t play quite as much last year, we’re optimistic that those young men will be able to step up and fill the holes and fill the shoes that left.
The offensive line all returns, so that has to be good for a young quarterback that’s learning a bunch of new weapons?
DE: We have the whole offensive line back intact, which is a real positive. So, we have a lot of experience in such a key position. We have seven guys returning that started games last year on a 12-win team. We feel very good about that position and we have some good young guys that are having a good offseason and developing their strength and the physical part of it. I’m just looking forward to continuing the development of our offensive line and we’ve got a tight end that returns that played a ton of football last year and he’s had a great offseason.
How hard is it to come in and not only replace your quarterback and receivers, but also your running back when he abruptly decides to take a break?
DE: You know, Dan was the leading rusher on the team last year, so we need to fill that production. But I think what good coaches do is they adapt to their personnel. If we have a quarterback that’s a guy who can run then we’ll continue to pick up rushing yardage from our quarterback. If we have a quarterback playing back there that doesn’t run so well, we’re going to have to be creative with other ways of running the football and that means more touches for the tailbacks. We think we’re not going to have a problem finding a running back that will be capable. Our problem will be trying to find our identity and find how we are going to replace those rushing yards.
On defense, you return a lot of key guys and that side of the ball was definitely a strength of this team. How much does that help the transition?
DE: I actually met with our defense [Tuesday] and I told them that you don’t win 12 games by being average on defense. You win 12 games because you’re dominant on defense. And when I was at Michigan State last year and we played these guys, we were very impressed with them as a defensive football team. Their personnel, how hard they played. We’ve got outstanding leadership on that side of the ball. We think we’ve got a lot of key people back there, a lot of tough guys, a lot of motivated guys, and our defensive coaching staff is outstanding and I know that they will put these guys in a position to make plays.
Part II of my conversation with Central Michigan coach Dan Enos will run later this afternoon.