The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

New coach brings spring practice, gives Scots reason to celebrate

By Nate Oglesbee

Like a pit-bull puppy, new head football coach Glenn Caruso roamed the field Tuesday night under the light of a full moon. At once full of determination and energy, Caruso has instituted spring practice for the first time in Macalesterƒ?TMs football history, and his enthusiasm is rubbing off.Barking out orders one instant, and jumping in for a running back to show how a play is properly run the next, Carusoƒ?TMs energy level doesnƒ?TMt drop for a second.

The spring practices, the up-tempo change of pace, a new and young staffƒ?”itƒ?TMs all part of Carusoƒ?TMs plan to try and make Mac football respectable again.

ƒ?oeSpring ball is the standard around the country so itƒ?TMs not even a luxury, itƒ?TMs almost a necessity,ƒ?? Caruso explained.

So on Sunday afternoons and Tuesday nights throughout Aprilƒ?”seven practices in allƒ?”Caruso, his staff and players will be out on the field learning a new system, and hopefully forging a new attitude.

ƒ?oeWhat weƒ?TMre hoping to accomplish is, number one, a comfort level with the players to make sure they know how we coach, and we can see how they play,ƒ?? Caruso said. ƒ?oeNumber two, to familiarize them with the schemes. And number three, maybe most importantly, to start building a little bit of team camaraderie now instead of having to wait until August rolls around.ƒ??

For a team that hasnƒ?TMt known much in the way of success the past few years, and went 0-9 last season, the players seem to be responding well to Carusoƒ?TMs new way of doing things.

ƒ?oe[Thereƒ?TMs new] enthusiasm, and guys are re-interested in football,ƒ?? quarterback Nick Hank ƒ?TM08 said. ƒ?oe[The coaches are] prepared. Weƒ?TMre prepared to go. Every minute is scheduled. Itƒ?TMs different; weƒ?TMre becoming more productive, because weƒ?TMve always had athletes,ƒ?? Hanks continued later.

More athletes have joined the team after Caruso put out an open call earlier this year. According to Caruso, heƒ?TMs gotten seven or eight guys to come out, some who havenƒ?TMt played football since high school, and some whoƒ?TMve never played at all.

Caruso is also hoping to bring in 10 first-year players for next fall, which is not as many as he would ideally like, but he had a late start after being hired in mid-December. Most MIAC teams by contrast, will bring in classes of around 20-25 kids. Perennial power St. Johnƒ?TMs, which doubles and triples up on numbers, brings in around 50 kids a year. Caruso and his staff have already started recruiting the next class, for fall ƒ?TM07, in hopes of upping their recruit numbers.

Because the team currently has players who havenƒ?TMt played much before, and because they are implementing the staffƒ?TMs new offensive and defensive schemes, Caruso sees the spring practice as a great opportunity to get everyone on the same pageƒ?”both in terms of the playbook, and their attitudes.

ƒ?oeYou know, we donƒ?TMt talk about it much, but a lot of it is a symbolic gesture,ƒ?? Caruso said. ƒ?oeWhen you say that, people automatically think thereƒ?TMs not a whole lot of substance to it. Thatƒ?TMs not the case. I would say the vast majority of it is specifically footballƒ?”learning the system. But itƒ?TMs very important the players understand that even though weƒ?TMre not at a Division I school, there is a non-traditional season for football, just like there is for other sportsƒ?Ýso a lot of it is a restructured focus.ƒ??

Caruso has brought Tony Jennison on board as his defensive coordinator to help implement his system and bring about that new focus. Jennison, formerly at Marietta College in Ohio, along with offensive coordinator Travis Walch (at Carleton last year) and Caruso, gives the team a trifecta of young coaches.

As far as how the team stacks up to his expectations, Caruso says he is pleasantly surprised by the teamƒ?TMs athleticism and believes it has a little more depth than he initially thought. Still, he admits, the depth is ƒ?oenot anywhere near it needs to be for a successful college program sustained over a period of time.ƒ??

Of course, for the coach who seems to be always working in his office, and is a blur of motion and noise on the field, he wants his players to pick up the pace even more.

ƒ?oeThe number one thing we are not grasping right now is practice tempo,ƒ?? Caruso said.

Whether or not his players are practicing at the tempo he wants yet, the message is at least getting across. When asked to describe their new coach, the same sets of adjectives come out again and again.

ƒ?oeTempo,ƒ?? Hanks says. ƒ?oeEnergy,ƒ?? linebacker Pete Christenson ƒ?TM07 responds. ƒ?oeHeƒ?TMs always going, heƒ?TMs not going to waste a minute,ƒ?? George Robbins ƒ?TM07 said.

One of the new players, Nick Honan ƒ?TM07 even gets in on the act. ƒ?oeIntenseƒ?Ýand Italian,ƒ?? he joked.

Despite Carusoƒ?TMs high-energy style, constant encouragement and pleas to ƒ?oepick it up,ƒ?? he recognizes the daunting task still facing him in remaking what has historically been one of the worst programs in college football.

ƒ?oeIƒ?TMm not going to say by any stretch that weƒ?TMre going to go in and go 9-0, because that would be absolutely absurd. But what we need to do is change the attitude to where football is once again important to the student-athletes and that they compete at a very high level. Whether they win or lose, I donƒ?TMt know, weƒ?TMll see.ƒ??

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