With the start of the college football season less than two weeks away, there is plenty of excitement and anticipation for the Eastern Michigan University football team’s home opener against the Howard University Bison.
Despite a 2-10 record last season and not meeting expectations from the team’s 6-6 record in 2011, head coach and defensive coordinator Ron English seemed optimistic about the upcoming season as the EMU football team gathered for the school’s annual Media Day on Sunday afternoon at Rynearson Stadium.
“Being defensive coordinator has been different and a lot more fun because it has resulted in a better relationship with a lot of players on the team,” English said. “It has been a lot of fun thus far, but it has been hard because I have had to get my voice in shape. It shouldn’t take this long to recover from having a hoarse voice, but I am adjusting.”
English on the depth of the team: “For the first time to be quite honest when you are talking about incoming guys, we are at the point where they are not getting a lot of reps and that is the way it is supposed to be. They are not supposed to get a lot of reps if your program is where you need it to be.”
The players were enthused and excited as they lined up to take photographs, along with the freshman posing with English for their annual picture.
After the individual pictures were taken, the squad took group shots along with the team photo with the 2013 senior class sitting dead center.
A notable moment came when multiple players jokingly yelled out, “Heisman Trophy Winner” at junior Bronson Hill while he was taking photographs near the 40-yard line.
In the middle of players taking pictures, redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Benz talked about the expectations going into the upcoming season.
“I am looking to build off of my game experience from last year and to be more efficient as the quarterback,” Benz said. “I am trying to raise my completion percentage, lower interceptions, and get to ball to our playmakers.”
Benz on working with first year offensive coordinator Stan Parrish: “It has been great. He has been helping me a bunch with footwork and the whole mindset of the game. He said to me you have to have a great demeanor in order to be a great quarterback.”
When asked about the importance of having a strong running game in order to balance things out, Benz said, “It is very important because it sets up our play-action passes and passing game. Establishing our run game is very key to our offense.”
Benz feels a lot better going into the upcoming season with an opportunity to have a full grasp on the offense.
“It feels a lot better— the game kind of slows a little bit more after having enough game experience,” Benz said.
After finishing up his individual photos, redshirt senior defensive end Kalonji Kashama discussed how the line would make up for the loss of former defensive end and current Green Bay Packers linebacker Andy Mulumba.
“We have a lot of guys that are ready to step up and we have players who are ready to impress on a great and young team,” Kashama said. “Andy is a great loss and he is there doing his thing in Green Bay right now, but we have a lot of guys that are ready to take his place.”
Kashama on what he was worked on in the off-season: “I have worked more on making sure I am in shape and mentally I don’t have any flaws. What will help us out more on defense is us knowing our jobs and doing it to the best of our abilities.”
Longtime play-by-play voice Matt Shepard and former Detroit Lions tight end Rob Rubick will form this year’s radio broadcast team for EMU football games. Rubick returns after a two-year hiatus.
Shepard and Rubick both enter their 13th season in the booth.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @EasternEchoGeno.