It wasn't the best weather in Mount Pleasant, but the lack of spring temperatures did not keep CMU from playing their annual Spring Game.
The Maroon squad would edge the Gold squad 16-13 to end spring practice for the Chippewas, and we were able to catch up with head coach Dan Enos following the game.
On how the Quarterbacks played
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"We'll have to look at the tape. It's tough to say right now, they've all done things well. We've had snow, sun, wind, locust, to play through. Again, I don't think they got too many reps either. It's hard because different wide-outs were playing with the different teams. I thought Cooper [Rush] did some good things and I thought Alex [Niznak] did some nice things all spring. We think we have a lot of capable guys to choose from, we just have to put them in a lot of different situations."
On how the running backs played
"We're deep. We didn't play Saylor [Lavallii] or Zurlon [Tipton] because we've seen enough of them. We wanted to get some of the other guys some reps for the first time. Anthony Garland has had a pretty successful spring. Martez Walker is someone who we think will be a phenomenal player one day."
On Alex Niznak's day
"I thought Alex played well. He's had a good last week and a half of spring. He's gaining a lot of confidence and making plays. He can run. He moved the team, that's important."
On the batted passes by the defensive line: struggling QB's or good DL play?
"It's not really on the quarterbacks. That's really the D-Line getting a good push and moving guys back. Our defensive line has done a really great job this spring. They've done a good job at being coached. That's also our offensive line getting pushed back too."
On the defensive line getting into the backfield today
"This is the best our defensive line has played since I've been here. And we didn't even play Alex Smith, Jabari Dean, or Louis Palmer out there. When we get those guys back and we inject the freshmen we have coming in, I think this defensive line will be strength for this football team."
On how good Titus Davis can be this season
"Titus is obviously super-talented. We played him for a quarter, and he kind of talked us in to that. He loves to practice, he loves to play, he has great ability, he's explosive; you can see that. He makes people miss. [Titus] and Zurlon [Tipton] are two of the best skill positions in this league."
On the offensive line's play today
"They are not all there. You saw four true-freshmen in there playing today. They got knocked around a little bit, but I thought they played hard. Andy Phillips, Nick Beamish, and Kevin Henry are the three returning starters that played last season. They were on separate teams, two on one and one on the other team. Those guys are very good. When we get Jake Olson and Kenny Rogers back and these guys have another 4-5 months in the weight room, I think our offensive line will be a strong force."
On Ron Coluzzi's 50-yard made field goal
"He's talented. He's got to continue to be more consistent. He's done that this spring and I think spending a year [as a redshirt], watching David Harman kick helped him. I think Ron has a very, very bright future and a good upside."
On the secondary's play today
"I thought the secondary has played very, very well this spring. Jason Wilson, he's been at [cornerback] for a full year. We moved Brandon Greer over at cornerback. I think we're deep; I think our football team is better then the last couple years of spring. There's a lot more give-and-take, the offense is up, and the then the defense is up. For the most part, our defense is a little ahead; and for the first time I've been here, that's happened. Usually our offense is ahead and that makes you nervous as a coach. This year our defense is ahead this spring and that's a good thing."
On how the linebackers played today
"Good. I think they played pretty well. We have some good ones; Shamari Benton and Justin Cherocci are very, very good in this league. Our young guys, Nathan Ricketts will be a heck of a player; Joe Bacci and Cody Lopez too. We have some older guys, some younger guys, and we have some guys coming in."
On the improvement of the defense with switching to a 4-2-5 style
"I think the players are starting to understand it more. And I think, as you saw throughout the season, we got better at it. They understand the new stuff, our guys have been playing in it and the coaches have done a good job coaching it. I thought we tackled well today. I thought our defense was very active today. I thought our offense had a few holes today and then 'poof' it closed. I think we played hard and ran to the ball."
On some hits on the quarterbacks
"None were too rough. I thought they needed to get hit a little bit. They haven't played. Usually I get on those [defensive players] for hitting [Ryan Radcliff] because he played so much, but today they ran around a little bit and got a feel for what that was like. The players on the team like it too. [Quarterbacks] feel like they are 'one of the boys' too."
Overall thoughts on the game today
"Very optimistic, very enthusiastic. Everyone was very positive. Our whole program. I have a lot of people who are very close to our program and have watched our practices in the years in the past, and they had good comments. Our team speed, and how well we practice and get things accomplished, we feel really, really good about this team. As I told them in [the locker room], it's going to be very critical until we report to camp. We need to finish up things physically and academically the right way. We can't have any off the field issues, we need everyone in [the locker room], and we need to inject our freshmen when they come June 26th for summer school, and we'll have the makings for a good football team."
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