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Exclusive Interview with CU Associate AD Lance Carl – Part Two: Assistant Coaches “It’s a Good Mix”

 

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 (You Tube video of the touchdown can be found at the end of the page).

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 three summers – returning again this July). Carl is also the sports supervisor for the football program, and teamed up with athletic director Rick George as a “committee of two” when it came to the hiring of Mel Tucker. He has daily interactions with head coach Mel Tucker, the assistant coaches, support personnel and the student-athletes.

Note … For regulars here at CU at the Game, you may recall that Lance has been  gracious enough to do similar interviews the last three springs. If you would like to look back at those interviews, you can find the 2016 interviews here, the 2017 interviews here, and the 2018 interviews here.

Part One: The Hiring of Mel Tucker – “A Committee of Two” can be found here … 

Part Two: The new coaching staff

Overall thoughts on the new staff?

Mel Tucker has put together a great staff. When you look at the staff, you see a couple of former offensive coordinators on offense, a couple of former defensive coordinators on defense. There are some young guys on there – it’s a good mix. And one thing they have in common is that they can all recruit. To a man, on this staff, they can all recruit.

As a coach you understand that you need to own your room. If you own your room, and do a good job recruiting, you’ll have success.

Mel Tucker has talked about recruiting nationally. Is that realistic for a program like Colorado?

When he talks about recruiting nationally, you can take that as meaning, ‘Oh, we’re going to recruit in Georgia and Alabama every year. I call it “selective recruiting”. We’re going to be in California; we’re going to be in Colorado; we’re going to be in Texas. That’s a given. Now, where else can we go? Where can we expand our reach to? When you have assistant coaches with their kind of reach – these guys have become ingrained in high schools nationally. You don’t overlook those guys (around the country), but you don’t spend an inordinate amount of time there. If you’ve got a high school head coach who calls one of your assistants and says, ‘We’ve got a guy, Colorado should take a look at him’, we’ll go there. You’re not going to see us living in North Carolina and Georgia. You just want to maximize the relationships you have with those assistant coaches, and take advantage of that.

Louisiana … Michigan. Michigan could be a place for us, we’ve hit there in the past, with players like Michael Westbrook and Charles Johnson. There are pockets of the country that we can pull from, just like we have in the past – no different.

What can you tell us about new offensive coordinator Jay Johnson, and how he will approach the 2019 season?

I know that, from speaking with Jay, and in talking with Mel, they want a complimenting offense, which means that it will compliment the defense. Will we go up-tempo all the time? No. Will we go up-tempo sometimes? Yeah. You mix-and-match your offense to what you have in your personnel.

One thing Jay and Mel have talked about is identifying the strengths of our team. We’re going to play to those strengths. It’s not going to be: ‘Here’s my offense, and here’s how we’re going to do it’. That’s not what we want to do. We’ll take a look at the players that we have, and construct an offense to emphasize those gifts. So, as anyone can see when they look at our offense, we have very good receivers. And, I believe, we have some really good young running backs, who will have their chance now during spring ball. I’m excited for all the young guys – Deion Smith; Jarek Broussard – to see what they can do. Alex Fontenot; Beau Bisharat … that’s the great thing about spring ball. Jay and Mel have told the guys: ‘I don’t care what year you are – we’re playing the best players.’ If it happens to be a freshman, straight off of a high school campus – They’re going to play.

That being said, you’re never going to hear Mel Tucker say, to any recruit, ‘You’re going to come in here and play as a freshman’. There are no guarantees. You have to earn the right to play; to earn the right to be a part of that starting group or the two deep.

That’s why I’m so excited about spring ball. There will be an increased level of intensity, because everyone out there knows: ‘I’ve got a chance!’. Nothing is pre-determined, and that goes from our quarterback to our kicker.

What about the CU defense under new coordinator Tyson Summers?

I would tell fans to go on and watch all of the Georgia tape they want. What Georgia does – that’s Mel’s defense. It’s been successful there, and while it’s never plug-and-play, as we have different personnel, the philosophy and strategy will be similar.

I think that Mel has an idea in the pregame, in the planning session, what an offense does well, and what his defense can do well to take that away. Mel and Tyson will want to force offenses into situations in which they are uncomfortable – and that happens with every offense. It’s about identifying what they are comfortable with, and taking it away from them.

In watching the Georgia defense, whether it’s the twists and stunts upfront, their blitz packages, how they manage a spread team, it’s a matter of identifying what you want to do, and executing.

Tyson Summer – a former head coach at Georgia Southern – was able to work with Mel Tucker hand-in-hand for the past two years (as the defensive quality control specialist). He understands Mel’s defense; he understands what Mel wants to do.

What about CU’s other defensive coaches?

You look at Ross Els (a holdover as the inside linebackers/special teams coach) has also been a defensive coordinator. He will also add a level of continuity and consistency. Tyson was very happy that Ross decided to stay because, if you look at last year, and the play of our inside linebackers, they played really well.

On the backend, you look at a guy like Traveras Tillman (CU’s new safeties coach), who Mel mentored, and brought into his defense. And then you’ve got an experienced guy like (defensive line coach) Jimmy Brumbaugh, who knows his X’s and O’s, and is a technician from the Pete Jenkins line of coaching. There a lot of Pete Jenkins disciples out there right now.

(Pete Jenkins has long been considered the top defensive line coach in football – college or professional. Much of his coaching career, which spanned over 54 seasons, was spent at LSU, though he also spent three years coaching the defensive line of the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins coached dozens of players to all-conference and All-America honors. He’s also sent over 30 players he’s coached to the NFL).

CU has brought in a number of “quality control” coaches from Georgia. What does a quality control coach do, and what do they bring to the table?

Quality control guys are ingrained in Mel’s system, and know what he wants to do. They help with game-planning, strategy – they do analysis of not only our team, but do advanced scouting as well.

One thing Brian Michalowski (first hired as CU’s director of quality control on defense, later promoted to outside linebackers coach) brings to the table is his junior college background (he was the defensive coordinator at Garden City Community College in Kansas in 2015), but also international (he was the defensive coordinator at Cologne University in Germany in 2014). He’s very tied into, and in tune with, international players. He has connections in Europe, and there are more and more of those kids out there.

Is it safe to say that recruiting along the offensive and defensive lines was a priority for the Recruiting Class of 2019?

Yes. As Mel said in his press conference: ‘I like big guys’. Football is a big man’s game. If your offensive and defensive lines are stout, you are going to win some games. He understands that, and realizes that, so what you see coming in is an emphasis on size, and that will give us some depth along the lines which has been lacking the past few years.

How have the new coaches from Georgia been getting along with the three holdover coaches from the Mike MacIntyre staff?

They’re professional. They have all been in situations like this, where you bring in new people and you merge I think the most important thing is – they all want to be at Colorado. They all recognize the opportunity that they all have. They are excited to work for – and respect – Mel Tucker. So we have that commonality, that common bond. They are all moving in the same direction. At the end of the day, it’s all about X’s and O’s,

Recruiting going forward, there will be better defined recruiting responsibilities. This year, it was all about, ‘Let’s work on keeping the recruits we have. Let’s look at those we have committed, and whether we want to move forward on those commitments – some we did, some we didn’t. Then we moved on some guys we hadn’t been on at all, due to the new guys and some of the relationships they had with players. It’s been a great mix; very organized, very detailed – and Mel’s a great closer.

I think, moving forward, once we get established in some schools, you’ll see an even greater impact in recruiting … we’re excited.

Drew Wilson has said he is excited about how Mel Tucker wants to run his strength and conditioning program. But then again, Drew was excited about how Mike MacIntyre wanted to run his program. Should we take Drew’s latest statements with a grain of salt, as he now has a new head coach to work for?

Mel knows what he wants, and Drew will do whatever Mel wants. Mel wants us to be the most well-conditioned team in the country, and that’s Drew’s goal. Drew gets a different type of body to work with now.

You talk about the new offensive and defensive linemen Mel is bringing in – more size; more girth. That allows Drew to get in the lab, and tweak some things that he has done in the past. When you are bringing in linemen who are 6’5″, 250-pounds, that’s different than bringing in a guy who is 6’5″, 305-pounds. You don’t have to work from a lesser foundation – there is a better foundation to work with. That excites you as a strength coach – You are working with a better foundation.

On the skill side, we’ve had some dynamic players when Mike was here. They can be even more dynamic working with Drew and Mel. But you’ll really see it on the offensive and defensive lines. Drew has more to work with than he has had in the past.

There is a different mentality, knowing that big guys move people … and big guys stop people on defense. No matter what conference you are in, football doesn’t change that much. They say that the Pac-12 throws the ball all over the field. Look, Arizona runs the ball better than anyone in the country.

Mel wants to make the other team uncomfortable. If Arizona wants to run the ball, let’s take the run away, and make them beat you with the pass. But you have to have the girth, the size up front to take the run away. At some point, small guys get moved out of the way.

So, if you want to take anything from Mel’s first Recruiting Class, look at the offensive and defensive line. That tells you who Mel wants to be.

And, it’s realizing, ‘We’re the University of Colorado. We’re going to go up against Alabama; we’re going to go against anybody, and into everybody’s living room’. We’re not concerned about who we are going up against. We know who we are. We’re not backing down from who we are.

Longest run in the Pac-12 in the polls (CU’s run of 143 consecutive weeks in the Associated Press from 1989-97 is longer than any run by any Pac-12 team) ...

Exactly. Mel pointed out to us when we first sat down in his house … It’s been done here before. It’s not as if this is foreign ground.

So, it’s been done before, how do you do it again? You recruit the right way, you have the right philosophy, you pay attention to the detail in everything you do. And that’s one of the things Mel has, he has a tremendous attention to detail.

Of the position coaches, which will be the biggest surprise for Buff fans this fall?

(New offensive lien coach Chris) Kapilovic. I encourage people to look at his bio, look what he’s done. He had his hand in the running game at North Carolina when they were successful.

Also Jimmy Brumbaugh, our new defensive line coach. He’s just a very detailed person.

So, I am excited about the offensive and defensive lines. I know what we are going to get from our receivers. I know what we are going to get from our quarterbacks. Running backs? I’m excited about the young guys, who will have an opportunity to play now.

I’m excited about our secondary, because they get to work with Mel Tucker. And who, as a defensive back, wouldn’t want to come here and work with Mel Tucker? We have a great history here, with Chidobe (Awuzie), Ahkello (Witherspoon), Tedric (Thompson), Isaiah Oliver … we have a long history of successful defensive backs here.

Still to come … Lance Carl on CU’s football roster and prospects for the 2019 season (to be posted 4/1) …

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