Downing Addresses Big Sky Media In Conference Call
GREELEY, Colo. - The nine head football coaches in the Big Sky Conference gathered on a conference call for the media on Wednesday to preview their seasons. Read what Northern Colorado coach Scott Downing had to say about the season as camp begins for the Bears on Friday with the first practice at 7:00 p.m.
The audio from all nine coaches is also available on the Big Sky Conference podcasting site at: http://www.bigskyconf.com/podcast_xml.aspx
Question (Kelvin Ang, Idaho State Journal): You had quite a balanced offense last year in terms of getting production from a lot of different guys. Do you look for that to continue or would you like for one or two players to step up and really be a go-to guy for your quarterback?
SD: I think certainly every offense, every quarterback that has success has a go-to guy. I think last year we had some young guys that we played - Dominic Gunn, Patrick Walker, Brandon Smith - as receivers that started to late in the year become the favorite targets of Bryan Waggener. Certainly the thing I think we're looking for this year is to develop a more explosive running attack and be able to get that four, five, six yards when you need it on a consistent basis. I think that will help us a lot. Hopefully in this fall camp we can settle on a group of receivers to be the starters and let Bryan feel comfortable with it and then settle on a number one running back, a guy who's going to carry the majority of the load.
Q (Fritz Neighbor, Missoulian): Who are you looking at at running back, who are the main guys?
SD: We've got DC Wilson who played for us last year quite a bit. We have a young man coming off a redshirt in John Burnley. We also figure a couple of our new guys coming in, Josh Morton will be a true freshman out of Poudre High School down here in Colorado and then we also have Andre Harris, who's a late junior college transfer from El Camino out of California. I think out of those four guys, primarily, we're going to be able to figure out which guy is the guy that can carry the bulk of the load.
Q (Ang): How does the team go about replacing the production of a guy like Cristian Sarmento had for you last year?
SD: Well, I don't think you can just replace Cristian Sarmento with one guy. Obviously, we've got a lot of players back on defense with a lot of experience and hopefully as the players who played with Cristian mature and get older, because now our freshmen our now sophomores and sophomores are now juniors , et cetera, et cetera, I think together they can collectively pick up the load. I don't know that we'll have another guy that will finish in the top three in the country in tackles. I hope we don't have to rely on one guy to make all the plays and certainly I don't think that's our plan. I think it will be spread amongst a lot of the players on defense just to pick up the slack, but hopefully as a team we've developed to that point where we can continue to count on each other. Athletically, we're better than we have been.
Q (Will Holden, Bozeman Daily Chronicle): You mentioned some of the question marks you guys have at the running back position on the offense. How great is it coming into this season having more of a solidified quarterback in Bryan and having him at the helm for you guys this year?
SD: It's a big advantage for us we feel like. When you go into the season knowing what you've got at quarterback, you've got a returning starter that's a senior, he understands our offense and now, because he's a returner and he's that comfortable he can concentrate on helping the other players on the offense develop and get to where he feels comfortable with the receivers, not only as a group but find that guy that he feels is his go-to guy when the play breaks down, he can keep an eye out for that guy. I think it gives us a chance to continue to develop our offense past where it has been.
Q (Neighbor): Can you talk a little bit about your schedule and how daunting it is and how difficult it could be to get a few more wins that you need to keep building the program up?
SD: Obviously the bulk of our schedule is playing the Big Sky and you know as I looked at the preseason rankings, all the different ones that are out there, we play five of our eight opponents in the Big Sky - as everybody knows - are currently either receiving votes or ranked anywhere from first to 30th in the country. We've got a tough schedule just playing the Big Sky alone and that in itself is a daunting task. Where that helps us a little bit more this year is that we're not going on an extended road trip-type situation where we play three or four games in a row on the road. Travel in the league is tough and travel generally when you're talking about the western part of the United States is tough. We open up at Kansas and Kansas is picked to be in the top of the Big 12 North, either first or second most generally and they're tough and certainly we play the University of San Diego, who's been a tough opponent in the past and we also play South Dakota but it's okay. Part of the situation we got into when we got into the Big Sky was we knew it was one of the toughest leagues in the country. I believe we were ranked number two in the power polls so I think the big thing that we will play on is the fact that we're playing alternating games home, away, home, away during the season and allow us to get in a rhythm there and the fact is that we've played through the league three times now and we know what to expect from people and we have a lot of respect for our opponents in the league and I think that helps us. The more we play against great teams, the better we get.