“The Heisman thing we’ll let other people handle,” first-year coach Rod Carey said Thursday morning in the MAC coaches media conference call. “That’s the media who will drive that early. That handles itself. That’s not something we’ll have to deal with, although we do address it.
“Jordan is about as a class act as they come. He’s not perfect and he’ll be the first one to tell you, there are always things to get better at and he’s done that this spring. His attitude has been workman-like. He’s got the right attitude and that momentum will help.”
Carey, who coached the Huskies in the Orange Bowl after Dave Doeren accepted an offer to become the new head coach at North Carolina State, said things got busier after the Orange Bowl. The staff had remained intact through the bowl game, but then some assistants followed Doeren to Raleigh or went elsewhere.
Even with a new staff, there is a lot of continuity in DeKalb and Carey won’t change much of the football philosophy.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Carey said. “That’s kind of where we’re at with this. There are obvious changes because I’m not Coach Doeren, but there will be some inevitable changes. But you want to be real cautious when you’re talking about change with a program that’s had some good success over the last decade.”
NIU has been the most successful MAC team since 2000, winning 12 games last season and with a perfect conference mark. The Huskies have won at least six games 12 of the last 13 seasons and gone to seven bowl games in that span. NIU will try to three-peat as MAC champions this season.
“No one has higher expectations for us than us,” Carey said of possibly returning to a BCS bowl game. “We don’t look out our program outside-in. We look at it inside-out. We’re the ones doing the work every day and we know what our expectations are for ourselves and we’re striving every day to meet them.
“The goal is out there, to win championships. You rely on the model that’s been set. You know how to build it and you just have to build it again. Hopefully we’re where we want to be at the end.”
NOTES: With 16 starters returning from a 10-win team, Toledo coach Matt Campbell thinks his club can challenge NIU for the West Division. The Rockets also had the league’s best recruiting class, but Campbell is more excited to see the 2012 recruiting class make a big impact in 2013 with several players coming off a redshirt season.
With two new coordinators, one of whom is head coach Ron English, who will handle defensive duties, the Eastern Michigan Eagles “hit the ground running” this spring and English was pleased with the results. EMU is hoping to rebound following a 2-10 campaign. English said the Eagles have learned from last year and is optimistic about 2013 because he’s got the most team speed he’s ever had in Ypsilanti.
Central Michigan is still trying to establish out who will replace Eric Fisher at left tackle. Fisher, who could be a top-5 pick in next week’s NFL draft, left a huge hole and the Chippewas are having a healthy competition at the position. “We’ve got some big-time battles and we’ll just have to wait and see how smoke clears,” said passing coordinator and quarterbacks coach Morris Watts.
One of the biggest holes for the Ball State Cardinals is on special teams, where both kicker Steven Schott and punter Scott Kovanda are gone. Coach Pete Lembo said there is a lot of competition at kicker and punter, but no job security for anybody.
Kent State is another contender in the West, but have to replace three starters on the offensive line. Coach Don Haynes isn’t too concerned because the Golden Flashes have good depth at the position. While no one has separated himself at any position, Haynes said “competition only makes you better” and he believes the offensive line will be a strength this season. Another competition is at quarterback, where senior David Fisher is battling redshirt freshman Colin Reardon.
Bowling Green is still up in the air on whether running back Anthon Samuel will return to school after taking the spring semester off for personal reasons. Coach Dave Clawson could not comment on Samuel because he is not currently in the Falcons program.
The MAC Media Day is Tuesday, July 23 at Ford Field in Detroit.