Interview with CU Associate Athletic Director Lance Carl

 

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 also 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 (such as the Dead & Company playing at Folsom Field the last two summers, and returning again this July 13th and 14th). 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.

Note … For regulars here at CU at the Game, you may recall that Mr. Carl was gracious enough to do a similar interview the last two springs. If you would like to look back at those interviews, you can find the 2016 interviews here, and the 2017 interviews here.

Part OneCoaches Can be found here

Part Two – OffenseCan be found here

Part Two – The Defense

The defensive line was a concern last spring, and was a weak spot throughout the 2017 season. Will there be improvement this season?

One thing I’m excited to see Kwahn (Drake) to, and we talked about this in his interviews, is player development scheme. When you look at our defensive line, you have (junior Kyle) Tuiloma and (senior Jase) Franke as the only guys that we have recruited in the past four of five years who are still on the team and playing … that’s got to improve. That’s why we’re excited to have Kwahn here.

Of the guys we have here now … (senior) Javier Edwards, for being his first year in 2017, playing in a Power Five conference, how did he play? He played okay. He didn’t play great. Now, Kwahn’s job is to tap into what he sees there, maximize Javier’s potential, and make him a dominant nose tackle in the Pac-12 conference. Does Javier have it in him? Yes. Kwahn’s job is to go in there and pull it out of him.

(Redshirt freshman) Terrance Lang, he’s got the chance to be one of the best players we have had here since … who does he remind me of? No one who has been here recently. He’s got the chance to be really, really special.

(Sophomore junior college transfer) Mustafa Johnson is going to make an impact this year. To me, Mustafa is a bigger version of Leo Jackson. He has a really big lower base, a big butt, big thighs. He’s really thick. I like him as a defensive end in this defense. He and (senior Chris) Mulumba. Mulumba now has a year under his belt. People have to remember – and this shows the lack of depth we have along the defensive line – ideally, Chris would not have played as much as he did last year, but we had a decided lack of depth. I’m excited for Mulumba to work with Kwahn.

Jase Franke, he’s Mr. Utility. You can plug him in anywhere, and he’ll do a good job. Jase doesn’t have the size to go in there for you on every down, but he’s a good situational guy, a good change of pace guy, and he’s a very hard worker.

We now have a pretty good mix of guys, with younger guys like … Franke? and (sophomore) Jacob Callier, who we want to bring along, and then some wily veterans. There is a good mix of guys – we’ll see what happens.

 

How about the linebackers?

(Junior transfer) Davion Taylor is going to play Buff (linebacker position) for us. He’s the most explosive guy I have seen in the past four of five years on tape. He can make plays sideline to sideline. We’ll want to take advantage of his speed, his quickness, his aggressiveness, his ability to make plays. I think you’ll see him coming from a lot of different angles with D.J. He’ll allow us to do some more creative things on defense, including blitzing. Having Taylor available to play at Buff, it will allow (senior) Evan Worthington to play on the back end, which is where he should be.

Jacob Callier, I’m excited about him. I’m excited about (sophomore) Nate Landman. You’ve got old reliable Rick Gamboa coming back. I would expect Landman and I would expect (redshirt freshman) Carson Wells to see playing time, even with our returning seniors Drew Lewis and Rick Gamboa. The young guys, depending on how hungry they play during spring ball, they will deserve some time to play on the field. Nate Landman flashed last year, showed us what he can do. Carson Wells was hurt last year, slowing him down a little bit, but he is an impressive looking kid on the hoof. (Redshirt freshman Jonathan) Van Diest will be available … so we’ve got some young guys we can plug in this year.

 

Will there be competition at inside linebacker, even with two returning starters (Rick Gamboa and Drew Lewis) who each had over 100 tackles last season?

You’ve got to push them. One thing you don’t want to do is to allow guys who are seniors to say, ‘I’m a senior and I’m playing’. You’ve got to foster competition. You’ve got to push for growth on every area on your team. When you get complacent, at certain positions … then you are 5-7.

Everybody saw it on the field. Three or four games … we should have won those games. But something happened in the game – players not making plays, players not in the right position. The only way you make those plays is when you make those plays in practice. Pound each other in practice. The thing about the 2016 team was that every day, every player was challenging the other person to get better. That’s what we have to get back to. We have an identity here, and that identity starts in practice. It starts in recruiting. It starts in every room we have (in the Champions Center). That’s where you get better. You don’t get better on Saturdays. You get better in February. You get better in April, May and June … that’s when you get better.

We are fortunate to have (strength and conditioning coach) Drew Wilson as the man preparing these guys, whipping them into shape. Your tape doesn’t lie. The numbers in the weight room don’t lie. Those numbers tell you how much work you are putting into your craft. What it means to you. Whether you want to be a student athlete here. Whether you want to be on the field on Saturdays, or just take up space in the locker room. That’s what being in the weight room means. The guys who are dedicated in the weight room … Drew knows who they are, and Drew relays that back to the coaches. There’s nowhere to hide. The guys who are trying to hide – they will not see the field. The guys who want to be a better player, to be a part of the “Folsom Fire” we are going to have here in 2018, those are the guys you want, and who you can depend on.

 

The Recruiting Class of 2017 was one of CU’s best in the past decade. Which of the players from that Class, who sat out last season, will make an impression as a redshirt freshman?

Chris Miller, cornerback, from Texas.

Chris Miller benefitted from two things last year. He benefitted from red-shirting, and he benefitted from going against Kabion Ento every day in practice. Kabion Ento decided, wisely, to take a redshirt season last year, and in practice last season, he showed Chris Miller everyday what a Pac-12 wide receiver looks like. Chris learned every day in practice; Chris is a student of the game. I would expect Chris Miller to make huge strides.

(Junior Dante) Wigley is back there. (Sophomore Trey) Udoffia is back there. (Junior transfer) Delrick Abrams … you’ve got four guys right there that you can do some work with. Ashley is so excited to work with those guys. He knows the length we have back there, and he’s excited to get his hands on them.

I expect Abrams to play well. With any JC kid, particularly at cornerback, it’s a unique position. You have to have short term memory, but you also have to understand that you are coming into a more complex defense than what you played in college. I expect Delrick to learn as he goes, to learn certain nuances of the defense this spring, and then apply them during summer conditioning. As the players run their PRP’s (player run practices), I expect Delrick to get a lot of work in, and he’ll have some older guys, guys like Dante Wigley who have been in the system, to help him out.

Dante Wigley’s got some moxie to him, and he can share the “money game” mentality.

Trey Udoffia … Trey had an “okay” year last year, playing as a redshirt freshman. But I want to see more grit out of Trey. A little more toughness. He’s got the athletic ability. He’s got some God-given athletic skills as a defensive back, but a little more grit out of Trey will benefit him and us as well.

I’m excited about the secondary. (Safety) Nick Fisher is going to be a senior this fall, and has done a great job for us over the years. (Sophomore transfer) Aaron Maddox – I absolutely loved him on tape. He came here, he had his surgery. He will be out for the spring, but I expect him to have a great summer, and he’ll be on the field for us this year as well.

All the JC guys we brought in … we expect them to play. You don’t bring JC kids in here to sit. You bring them in to play, and play considerable minutes for you. They should all be challenging for starting positions.

 

There is always some attrition in the spring (Outside linebackers Terran Hasselbach and Michael Mathewes opted to graduate in May and end their playing careers with the Buffs. Tight end Dylan Keeney will finish his career for medical reasons. Linebacker Sam Bennion is opting for medical school), yet CU still remains over the 85-scholarship limit.

That’s why spring ball is so important. Mike and the coaches will have to sit down after spring ball, and determine what is the appropriate step for some of these guys to take. It is what it is, that’s the nature of football.

I fully believe that the guys who want to be here, who want to compete, will show up for spring ball. When I played here, we called it “hit for 20″, as in “I hit 20 spring practices during spring ball”.

 

Colorado starts and finishes spring practices earlier than almost every team in the Power-Five conferences

For a couple of reasons: It doesn’t interfere with spring break. So you don’t have to worry about that interfering with what you are trying to accomplish. Then there is the injury factor. If someone gets hurt, it gives them that much more time to heal before the fall. Finally, there is the academic factor. It gives the players that last six weeks to concentrate on that last push before finals.

 

 

How does the 2018 schedule look to you?

We’ve got USC and Washington back-to-back. That’s the toughest part of our schedule. Everything else? We’re happy about it.

The main thing that concerns us … What time are the games going to be? Are we going to get noon games? Eight o’clock games on the west coast? There needs to be some understanding for the Mountain time zone schools to not put us into situations which are not advantageous to us. We have no problem with who we are playing, or where we are playing them, but the time of those games has a real impact on everything we do.

There is also the issue of getting more visibility from the Pac-12 Network. That’s a Rick George question. The SEC and Big Ten are going nowhere but up. We ask ourselves everyday: How do we get our revenues to go up? And it’s not doing what we are doing now. Unfortunately, that’s out of our control.

 

 

Overall thoughts on the 2018 season?

I’m always optimistic. I see the work that the coaches and players are putting in. Last year, 5-7 should have been 8-4. Looking back at those losses … the UCLA loss, the Arizona State loss … those stick with you. We were up 27-17 over Arizona State. We in control of the UCLA game, and a play at the goal line, the Bryce Bobo hold on the goal line … Of course, you have to make your own bounces, make your own breaks.

The 2016 team was able to make those plays. People talk about the loss of Chidobe Awuzie, Ahkello Witherspoon … but the player we missed the most was Jimmie Gilbert. He was able to put pressure on the passer. He changed the whole dynamic of the defense. He was able to put pressure on the quarterback, to get him off of his spot.

It wasn’t covering guys last year, we had guys who could cover, but you can’t cover forever. You’ve got to get to that quarterback. That’s why the most important position on our defense is the defensive line. Those guys win you games. When the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, it was because the Giants’ defensive line was kicking the Patriots’ ass. Dominant defensive lines control the game, and we need a dominant defensive line if we want to become the team we want to be.

It all goes back to recruiting and player development. That’s what it’s about. Every position has to have that. Along the defensive line, you have to identify the right guys, bring them in, and then develop them. That’s our responsibility to them as student athletes, and to the athletes who played here in the past. The guys up front have got to have some swagger. They have got to be mean, and they have got to get off blocks. It’s called the Trench Mob for a reason. You are in the trenches every play. You’ve got a guy every time, sometimes two guys, who are trying to kick your ass. You have to have a swagger, and be able to say, ‘I’m dominant today’. But unless you have been prepared that way, you won’t play that way.

 

Is there enough talent on the 2018 roster to play that way?

There is enough talent. You’ve got Mustafa Johnson, Chris Mulumba. You’ve got Jase Franke, Tuiloma, Edwards, Terrance Lang. You’ve got enough bodies. We need six guys, so that you can rotate guys, so that when Javier Edwards goes out, Lyle Tuiloma goes in. The challenge for Kwahn is to say, ‘I need you to do this. If you do nothing but this, we are going to be a great team’. Know your role; own your role … and play your role. I don’t need you to do something you can’t do. Kwahn’s job is to put them in the right position to make the right plays for our defense.

That’s what you do in spring ball. Identify a player’s strengths, a player’s weaknesses. Now, Kwahn can work with D.J. to tailor the defense. They can look at what they are doing now, then look at what they did on film last year, and say, ‘This is what we are going to work on in spring ball’. I’m confident in Kwahn. He has coached with great mentors, now he needs to translate that here.

 

Final thoughts?

We’ve improved significantly in recruiting since Darrin Chiaverini got here. We’re beating out other Power Five schools for players. We’re not beating out San Diego State for players – that’s not going to get it done for us. It’s beating UCLA; it’s beating Arizona … it’s beating Power Five schools for players, and we’re doing it. And then it’s developing players. Bringing back the culture. That’s what are coaches are doing. That’s what all our coaches are for.

Because of Rick George’s leadership, we are not an “at will” school anymore. That’s huge. When you have that security as a coach, with coaches getting two years, and coordinators three years – that goes a long way. It helps to develop trust within that coaches’ room. Mike understands this and Rick understands this, and Rick made it happen.

As a coach, you own your unit’s room in two ways. You own your room by recruiting your room, and then you graduate your room. No matter how great they think they are, most are not going to the NFL. The reality check is: of a graduating Class of 25, two or three might go to the NFL. That’s just the way it is. Unless the Class of 1994 comes in here, and 10 of 11 starters go … which could be the case here in a few years, if we continue to recruit well, if we continue to improve our recruiting and player development. Build that culture here at CU that we deserve to have, and we have a tradition of having. When you get that, and you have the buy-in, you can be unstoppable. When you can be consistent in every thing you do, championships can come. We didn’t play consistently enough last year to win.

Last season, when we were playing Texas State and Northern Colorado, and not hitting deep balls, I knew something was wrong. When you get consistency in everything you do, that’s when you win games, and we weren’t consistent enough last year to win games.

That’s the message in 2018 … be consistent in everything you do. And it all starts with spring ball. Be consistent in your workouts; be consistent going to class; be consistent in everything you do. That improves your culture, and allows you to win games … that’s what it’s all about.

… Again, my thanks to Lance for taking the time to give us his insights into the CU football program …

—–

2 Replies to “Lance Carl Interview – Defense”

  1. I expect the D line to be better this year….geez they have to be. I feel even better about recruiting in the future with Drake. Speaking of recruits no one mentions Antwine. I have heard it said he is completely physically mature. Also no mention of Sparaco. Is he injured? or has he just faded once he got to this level. He was tearing it up in high school.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.