Coach Darnell Spring Outlook

Gary Darnell

Spring drills started yesterday at Western Michigan and today we caught up with head coach Gary Darnell to break down the spring and get his take on the focus for the Broncos.

What is your main objective this spring?
We want to establish an offensive personality. Last year early on we weren't strong enough or in sync and things kind of went down hill. We need to have a strong identity on offense like we are used to around here and that will certainly be a focus this spring. We need to make people worry about something, whether it is running or throwing the ball, when they come in here. We need to get good at something on offense this spring. On defense we need to maintain the level of confidence we played with last season. This is the first time in a while that we'll be chasing around at linebacker. I think that will be a puzzle all through the season. You might see both Nick Saad and Darrell McFadden both get a shot this fall when they come in.

How will having four new assistants effect you for the spring drills?
I think it will help in that it will keep people fresh and alert. We just need to be careful that it doesn't effect the system or the players and we'll be OK. We have to maintain continuity on the field and also in recruiting and as long as the players trust me to bring on "one of our kind of guys" I think it will be fine.

Is this the best time to bring in that many assistants at once?
Most switches take place right around this time of the year. The week after signing day is perfect because you can finish recruiting and then get them prepared for spring ball. It is a domino effect from the pros and it effects a lot of MAC schools. I think Northern Illinois lost four guys, Toledo two or three and Marshall lost three or four. It isn't always a bad thing losing coaches. The average increase in salary for the guys that left here was $26,000 and some go on and make more money as coordinators than I make here. That can help you attract new coaches that understand the level of play we are at here.

How much of an impact do you see the Seelye facility making for spring drills?
Last spring was off the charts and took a toll on us because we had so many new guys and many were from southern states that it wasn't as productive as we would have liked it to be. Now we can go inside and maintain the focus and get a lot of things accomplished. We'll be back over at Davis once the mud dries up though. The Seelye is a great facility but one thing about Davis is the size. I can see everything there because we have three fields but here at the stadium when we have split squads between the stadium field and indoor facility I have to be in one or the other (laughing).

You only have two junior college players in this spring, talk about them
Shawntey Lopez will be on the field today and Dan Steinau was practicing yesterday and they are both very mature. When you talk to them you feel that you are speaking with a grown up and they are hungry to be coached and that is what we like about them. I expect both of them to contribute significantly for us. They both handled their business very well from the moment we recruited them.

Who do you see stepping up as leaders early on?
I think Jason Feldpausch, Jason Babin, Chuck Missant and Chad Wangerin along the offensive line and Kendrick Mosely kind of leads the wide receivers. We have quite a few actually that could play that role. This team reminds me a lot of the 1997 team. They are hungry to be coached and they want to hear what we are saying out there.

Any update on Anthony Allsbury's petition for an extra year?
We should hear something this month or perhaps in April. A lot of the committee types that work on things like this seem active in April. I've seen this last as long as June in the past. If he gets the year granted he'd be a role player for us. He'd play one significant role but he would be a role player and that is alright as we need a lot of those around here.

Have any players stepped up this offseason and been a pleasant surprise to you?
I don't think individual players as much as the team concept overall. This team is close and united and not filled with individual type players and that is what has been good to see.

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