CM Life was fortunate to be able to sit down with new CMU football coach, robcarlson77, ahead of the Chippewas opening game against Oregon State. The new coach talked about his expectations for this team and his transition from Evanston to Mt. Pleasant.
CM Life: Your first game is just a few days away, how are you feeling about the team as you prepare for Oregon State?
Coach: Overall, we’ve been pleased with the guys focus and dedication throughout fall camp. We had a few position battles that need to be worked out and those guys came out and competed every day. A handful of our incoming freshman made a push for playing time and might see some action this season.
We’ve put our trust in the players to hold each other accountable. We have a lot of veterans on this squad who have been through it before. They’ve taken on leadership roles and have worked to make sure we’re prepared for Saturday. At this point, it’s all about execution. If we can execute our gameplan I think we have the talent to compete with almost any team.
CM Life: The Vegas sportsbook has CMU listed as a 14.5 point favorite in Saturday’s game. What are your thoughts on the Chippewas being favored to beat Oregon State? Many in the college football world have picked CMU to cover the 14.5 point spread.
Coach: I don’t get caught up in what Vegas or the people on TV have to say. We have to play our game and execute. If we do those things, like I said, I like our chances. But I hope our guys know that Oregon State isn’t going to roll over and let us win the game. They’re flying across the country to play this game and their goal is to go home with a “W.” If we take them for granted our guys could be in for a rude awakening.
CM Life: How has the transition been moving from Northwestern back to your alma mater?
Coach: It’s been great! It’s great to be back in Mt. Pleasant and to be leading my alma mater. I’m proud of what we accomplished at Northwestern and I wish them the best, but I’m looking forward to coaching the Chippewas. We have a brand new jumbotron in the stadium that rivals almost any school, in terms of size. Our new Chippewa Champions Center has broken ground and will be ready in a year or so and will be a great resource for our players. There’s a lot to be excited about at CMU.
CM Life: Who are the difference makers on this squad?
Coach: Well obviously Byron Suggs is just a tremendous player and a terrific kid. I truly think he’s one of the best QB’s in the country and we’re so fortunate to have him at CMU. We’re hopeful Daveed Huff can take that next step at running back and build off the very strong season he had last year as a redshirt freshman. We really like what we have seen from Ethan Bennett and Leo Hurley on the offensive line as well. Defensively, Kareem Lindsey, Brad Lloyd and DeSean Mathis have taken on leadership roles and are pushing their teammates to excel.
CM Life: What are your expectations for this season?
Coach: I try not to put a number on anything. Every week we look to be 1-0. From a larger perspective our goals are to beat Western and Eastern, win the Michigan MAC Trophy, win the MAC West, win the MAC and win a bowl game. If we can be 1-0 each week, then we're on a good path to achieve those goals, but it doesn’t come easily and there are some strong teams in this conference.
CM Life: Speaking of strong teams, my final question for you is how do you plan on beating Western Michigan and taking back the Victory Cannon?
Coach: I mentioned it in my introductory press conference and the facts are that Western has enjoyed far too much success of late. That’s a rivalry game that we always want to win and I think this team can give them a run for their money. A lot of people expected a bit of a drop off for them with the departure of their QB, but that staff went out and got the one of the best JUCO QB’s available. Kudos to them and it’s testament for what they have accomplished the past several years. Their still the cream of the crop in the MAC and it should be a good game. Hopefully for our fans, that final game against the Broncos will determine who makes the trip to Detroit.
CM Life: Coach, thank you so much for your time. We’re excited to see what this season brings in just a few short days.
Coach: You’re welcome and we look forward to a great season and a packed Kelly/Shorts Stadium. We will need everyone’s support to make this season a success. Fire up Chips!