Q & A with Lance Carl – Part Four

Lance Carl then … A member of Bill McCartney’s first recruiting Class (1983), Carl was a 12-letter winner (football, baseball, track and basketball) out of Fort Madison, Iowa. Carl, a wide receiver who led the Buffs in receiving in 1986, was a member of the team when the Buffs ended a six year run of losing seasons in 1985 – McCartney’s fourth year as head coach. Carl was on the receiving end of one of the most memorable touchdowns in Colorado football history, a 52-yard halfback pass from O.C. Oliver on the first play of the fourth quarter of CU’s epic 20-10 upset of No. 3 Nebraska in 1986.

Lance Carl now … Carl signed as a free agent with the Washington Redskins and had a four year run as a scout for the Philadelphia Eagles. More recently, Carl spent six years with the Colorado Department of Higher Education, where he was a director for student motivational outreach. In November of 2013, Carl was named to a newly created position, associate athletic director for business development. The largely external role which encompasses business development, community partnerships, Carl serves as the coordinator for non-game day events (if you are “grateful” that Dead & Company are playing Folsom Field July 2nd and 3rd, you have Lance Carl to thank). Carl, with an office down the hall from athletic director Rick George, is also the sports supervisor for the football program. He has daily interactions with head coach Mike MacIntyre, the assistant coaches, support personnel and the student-athletes.

Carl, in the locker room as Bill McCartney turned things around in year four of his career at Colorado, is in a unique position to discuss whether Mike MacIntyre, in the fourth year of his career at Colorado, can do the same.

Part Four … The Players – Defense

Previously posted … Part One: The Coaches … Part Two: Recruiting … Part Three: The Players: Offense


Will suspended defensive lineman Josh Tupou be back for the Buffs this fall?

All indications are that he is excited to come back, and looking forward to it. He’s just trying to navigate the process right now. I commend him. He could have tried to go through (the NFL Supplemental Draft), but he has something to prove. He’s not just doing it for himself. He’s a good teammate. I think he feels like he let his teammates down, and maybe his family, and he has something to prove.

(Senior defensive back) Chidobe Awuzie is going to be a first three round draft pick. Could he have gone to the NFL this year? He probably could have gone. But he has something he wants to prove … Josh Tupou, Chidobe, … I think it tells you where we are right now as a program, even though we didn’t win this past year as often as we wanted.


What excites you about the Colorado defensive roster for 2016?

If you saw us defensively last year. Anytime you can drop 11 ½ points off of your defensive average, that’s pretty damn good. Especially when you are starting at 39 points per game.

The next step for us, and Jim (Leavitt) has talked about it, is: How do we get to the quarterback even more now. I’m excited for N.J. Falo, to play in this defense, maybe working a little outside more than last year. I think Jimmie Gilbert is ready to play again … I think defensively, we’re going to be good.

We’ve got Frank Umu, Lyle Tuiloma, Jase Franke, Brett Tonz, (Franke will be a sophomore this year, the other three are red-shirt freshmen) we’ve got some young guys we can rotate in there. I think what Jase showed me last year (as a red-shirt freshman), is that he has the ability to be disruptive as an inside pass rusher. He’s quicker than most guards, he can get to the quarterback. He surprised me last year. Frank Umu is all of 295, while Tuiloma is 300 pounds. You can plug those guys in, and then, knock on wood, get Josh Tupou back, who will come back hungrier than ever.

(Senior defensive lineman) Jordan Carrell? A potential All-Pac-12 player. (Junior) Leo Jackson? A solid Pac-12 player.

Now, that we have more depth, we can attack more. You can run more stunts up front with your ends and tackles, because you have more players now. Our defensive line is going to be huge for us this year, because you can rotate younger guys in there, get the vets some rest. And you can be more dynamic in what you want to do.


What other players on the defensive side of the ball will have an impact in 2016?

N. J. Falo, he’s a good sized Pac-12 linebacker. Kenneth Olugbode, he weighed more last year, and so was a more effective player. Will we ever have guys who are 240? I don’t think so. I think in this league, the league we’re in, 210 to 230 guys who can run – you’ve got to plug them in and let them run.

Drew Lewis is going to come in here and play … I saw him on the hoof during his recruiting visit. Then I watched him on tape. He’s the kind of guy that you want. That’s the kind of guy who can play here, make impacts, play right away for us. Rick Gamboa is a tough guy with good football instincts – a solid tackler.

A big question mark for me is a guy like (junior linebacker) Christian Shaver. You look at him, he’s 6’3″, 230 … what is it? There is something there you can’t put your finger on … so, this spring is huge for him, too. ‘There’s a spot for you to take. Do you have it in you to take that spot?’. You look at him and say, damn, that’s how you want your guys to look, but there is something not there with him … but if anyone can get it out of him, it will be Jim Leavitt.

On the outside … It’s an important spring for Mike Mathewes. He’s a sophomore now – he flashes sometimes. It’s time for him to take the next step in his progress. Derek McCartney, you know what you are getting there. Jimmie Gilbert, you know what you are getting there. Those young guys. It’s time for them to step up, step out of the shadows, and see what you can do.


Bottom Line for the players … improved depth will lead to improved competition

What you are able to do now is … you get better by having better competition. You get better by a junior saying, ‘Those are pretty good freshmen pushing me right now. I’ve got to step up my game in all aspects. I’ve got to improve my film study, in the weight room. I’ve got to be more disciplined in the classroom’.

All those things breed competition, which breeds success. When you didn’t have the depth, as we haven’t had in the past … certain guys, they knew they were going to play because they had to play. Is that making you a better team? No, it’s not making you a better team. But when you are a senior, and there is a sophomore breathing down your neck for your spot, you had better step your game up, or you are not going to play, because we don’t have to play you anymore.


Finally … Just for fun …

When discussing Year Four of the Mike MacIntyre era for this interview, it came with a comparison of Year Four of the Bill McCartney era. In 1985, McCartney’s fourth season, CU posted a winning record for the first time in six years … and it came at the expense of the passing game. While winning was certainly appreciated, it had to be hard on those players recruited to catch passes in Boulder.

Lance Carl’s recollection of the announcement … It’s the spring of 1985. I’m a red-shirt sophomore, coming in for practice … Our first spring meeting, and Coach Mac says, ‘Men, we’re going to make some changes here’. We’re all thinking: “yes, please”.

‘We’re deficient on the offensive and defensive lines’, says Mac. ‘We can’t stack up to the big boys, so we’ve made a decision as a staff that we’re going to go to the wishbone’ … Dead silence, at least on the offensive side of the ball. The defense didn’t care. I walked out of the room. I called my Mom (back in Iowa), and I said, ‘Mom, would you call the University of Iowa, to see if I can get a half scholarship in football and a half scholarship in baseball?’. My Mom said, ‘Why?’. ‘Because we’re going to the wishbone’. She says, ‘I don’t know what the hell a wishbone is, but you’re not leaving there. You committed to Bill McCartney’. I said, ‘Mom, it’s the wishbone. There’s one wide receiver in the game’. She said, ‘I don’t know what that means, but you’re staying’.

Best thing I ever did … to stay.

And … If you have been with CU at the Game for years, you may recall that in 2012, I did an interview with Lance Carl on what it was like to be a CU recruit (the interview, along with the interviews of 2012 recruit Clay Norgard and his parents, Erik and Lisa Norgard, can be found here).

… My sincere thanks to Lance for taking the time to share with us his thoughts and unique perspectives on the CU football program …



3 Replies to “Q & A With Lance Carl – Part Four – The Defense”

  1. Stuart, really nice series of interviews. It is interesting that Lance Carl from the athletic department says these things about the team, players and coaches in such a direct way – maybe Rick George’s alter ego? Carl is obviously watching practice, talking to players, and evaluating what is going on. This is probably the most forthright interview I’ve read since MacIntyre took over. It is very positive, but there is a serious tone to it. The not-very-deep-below-the-surface message could be that expectations for the football team have gone up over at the AD’s office.

  2. Stuart,

    I’ve enjoyed reading the interview and getting Lance’s insight on the coaching staff, recruiting and overall team. Needless to say I’m excited about year 4 and optimistic this will be the “breakthrough” year!

    Thanks again for all that you do to keep Buff fans, like myself, up-to-date on the program and the university.

    Go Buffs!

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