Wolverine Coaching Connection NFL Week 13

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Fergodsakes.com previews the NFL football games each weekend involving a University of Michigan football coaching connection. Coaching various NFL teams are former Michigan players and assistant coaches. Here are their schedules this weekend:

For Fergodsakes.com’s Michigan Coaching Trees, click here.

Mike Mallory (linebacker 1981-85); and
Terry Malone (Offensive Line Coach 1997-2001; Offensive Coordinator 2002-2005): New Orleans Saints. Mallory is now the Assistant Special Teams Coach for the Saints, and Malone is the Tight Ends Coach. New Orleans, 5-7, lost to Atlanta on Thursday night, 23-13.

Jim Harbaugh (quarterback 1982-86): Senior with Team 107. Now Head Coach of San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers, 8-2-1 and in 1st place in the NFC West, travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams. Kickoff is 1:00pm ET on FOX.

Mike DeBord (assistant coach of various positions 1992-99 and 2004-07, including 2 stints as Offensive Coordinator): Now Chicago Bears Tight Ends Coach.
The Bears, 8-3 and in 1st place in the NFC North, host Seattle at 1:00pm ET, noon CT, on FOX.

Mike Trgovac (defensive lineman 1977-80): Senior with Team 101. Now Green Bay Packers Defensive Line Coach. The Packers, 7-4 and in 2nd place in the NFC North, host 3rd place Minnesota in a key divisional showdown, 1:00pm ET on FOX.

Harold Goodwin (offensive lineman 1992-94): Now Indianapolis Colts OL Coach, charged with protecting overall #1 draft pick Andrew Luck. Indianapolis, 7-4 and in 2nd place in the AFC South, visits Detroit in a 1:00pm ET matchup on CBS.

Bill Sheridan (OLB Coach 2002; D Line Coach 2003-04): Now Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator. Tampa Bay, 6-5, is at Denver in a 4:05pm ET, 2:05pm MT game on FOX.

Teryl Austin (DB Coach 1999-2002);
Cam Cameron (QB Coach and WR Coach 1986-93); and
Andy Moeller (linebacker 1982-86; Offensive Line Coach 2000-07):
All three are now with Baltimore Ravens – Austin the Secondary Coach; Cameron the Offensive Coordinator; and Moeller the Offensive Line Coach. The Ravens, 9-2 and in 1st place in the AFC North, host 2nd place Pittsburgh in a 4:25pm ET game on CBS. The Ravens were thisclose to going to the Super Bowl last season (remember the questionable pass interference in the end zone?); are 9-2 this season and 9th in the NFL in points per game, yet Cameron and the offense are consistently ripped in Baltimore. Here’s the latest.

Jim Herrmann (linebacker 1979-82; coach 1988-2005, including Def Coord 1997-2005); and
Jerald Ingram (running back 1979-83). Both Herrmann and Ingram won Super Bowl rings with the New York Giants last season, and remain on staff this year – Herrmann as Linebackers Coach and Ingram as Running Backs Coach. The Giants, 7-4 and in 1st place in the NFC East, take on 2nd place Washington and RGIII in the Monday night game, 8:30pm on ESPN.

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Siena Heights 2012 Season Preview with Jim Lyall, Team 94

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Jim Lyall, University of Michigan defensive lineman under Bo Schembechler from 1970-73, is currently the Head Coach of the Siena Heights University Saints, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) program in Adrian, Michigan. Also on staff at Siena Heights is Rob Thornbladh, a player on the 2006 Michigan squad. Fergodsakes.com spoke with Coach Lyall regarding his team and his time at Michigan.

The first season of Siena Heights Saints football was 2011, and Michigan Man Jim Lyall led the way. Lyall, who spent 20 years as Head Coach at Adrian College, was tapped to bring the Siena Heights program to fruition. The only Catholic University in the state of Michigan to offer football, the Saints in 2011 went 8-1 against a mixture of varsity, junior varisty and club football teams. The new 2012 season will mark Siena Heights’ first full year of varsity status, and the schedule is certainly a few steps up in competition from 2011. Playing in the top NAIA conference in the nation (The Mid States Football Assocation), the Saints are slated to face the NAIA number 1, 3, 6, and 11 teams in the country.

“There was never a more intense man than Bo Schembechler, and there will never be another Bo Schembechler.” Coach Lyall calls Schembechler and his position coach at Michigan, Frank Maloney, “the two biggest influences on me.” Those influences permeate his Siena Heights program. “We are building the program based on what Bo taught us – Character and Integrity. We have recruited as many high school captains as we could. We provide an education and a chance to be a part of history. We sell kids on the fact that it’s ‘our’ team. Everything we do adds or subtracts to our tradition. Hopefully that transcends sport and permeates their lives.”

Coach Lyall says, “I have a great coaching staff, which allows me to develop relationships with young men and develop something special with these kids.” As for style and playcalling, the Saints use aspects of the spread offense. “We think in terms of players first, formations second, and then we call plays.” As an NAIA program, Siena Heights is able to combine athletic and academic scholarships, and the Saints recruit to the system. “We want the best linemen we can find, the best quarterback we can find, and the most speed at every position that we can find.”

In talking about the 1973 Michigan team, Team 94, the team on which he was a senior, the pride in Lyall is evident. The Wolverines went 10-0-1, with the one tie of course being the 10-10 game against the Buckeyes. The next day the Big Ten Athletic Directors voted to send the Buckeyes to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl, even though they were Big 10 representatives in Pasadena the year before. Big Ten rules at that time prevented Michigan from going to a bowl game. How did Lyall find out about the vote? “I was pulling into the library, and was listening to CKLW. Ewan McGregor said that Michigan’s season was over. It was just a shock. Very difficult to put into words the emotions that were felt. For me personally, my career was over. I wasn’t going to play in the pros.” How big of a shock was it? “As we walked off the field after the game, the players from OSU congratulated us, wished us luck in Pasadena. Our entire feeling in the locker room after the game was celebration – we were going to California. I was sitting on Bo’s lap!”

“Bo talked to us at every reunion about how he never forgot what happened.” In large part because of that 1973 team, and Schembechler’s lobbying, the rules were changed to allow more than one Big Ten team to go to a bowl game in a given season. The 1975 team was the first Michigan team to benefit from the change, playing in the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma at the conclusion of the season. But for Lyall, part of what would end up the number 6 team in the country according to UPI, he sat home on New Years Day, 1974.

The Siena Heights University Saints open their season this Saturday, August 25 with a home game at 7:00pm against Robert Morris at O’Laughlin Stadium in Adrian, Michigan. Other home games are September 8 against Marian, September 29 against Taylor, October 6 against Olivet Nazarene, and on October 13 Siena Heights will host the preseason number 1 NAIA team in the country, St. Xavier. Road games are September 1 at Iowa Wesleyan, September 15 at Concordia (in Ann Arbor), October 20 at Grand View, October 27 at Saint Francis, and November 3 at Waldorf.

The Siena Heights Saints football website can be found here. Follow the Saints on twitter @SienaHeightsFB.

Where are former Michigan players and coaches coaching today? Fergodsakes.com will have 2012 season previews on some of the teams that have a former Wolverine player or coach as part of their staff.

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Catching Up With Marcus Knight

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Marcus Knight, 1997 National Champion, 2-time Big 10 Champion, Rose Bowl Champion, and 3-1 against the Buckeyes during his career (1996-99) with Michigan, is presently the Wide Receivers Coach at Northern Michigan University. Fergodsakes.com caught up with Marcus recently to discuss his coaching career and more.

“Ever since I was a young boy, I wanted to inspire young kids,” says Marcus Knight. Watching his older brother Dameian Jefferies win a National Title with Alabama in 1992 left an impression. “It let me know the effects sports and success could have on a young person.”

Knight ended up at Northern Michigan by the “grace of God. I am truly blessed to be here.” 2012 will be his first season with the Wildcats after spending the prior 4 years with Valparaiso, where he earned his Masters in Sports Administration.

The preparation Knight puts in for a game, for a season, is altogether different than when he was a player. As he says, former players such as himself wish they knew then what they know now in terms of how to play the game. “As a coach I have had an awesome experience learning the ins and the outs of the game. The game is really simple when you get right down to it, even though the so-called experts will try to make you think it is difficult. The preparation that you put in as a coach, the hours that you put in, are well worth it when the results turn out the way you want.”

His goals for his coaching career are very structured, taking one thing into account at a time. His first goal is to have one of the best receiving cores in the nation. He wants to have good players who are willing to play hard and work hard. Following that, he would like to move up to Offensive Coordinator one day, and if things work out, move up the ladder to be a Head Coach “at some level.”

How does he get his players prepared to play? Coach Knight talks about his philosophy: “If you ask too much of your players too soon, they may not be ready. You groom the type of players in your group, you try to figure out as fast as you can what the players can do, how they learn, and how they can be pushed. It all starts in recruiting – I recruit what I feel can best help the group. I want a young man who is highly coachable, who is a leader. Being a leader is a big part of it. I want someone who wants to be better, who knows that he doesn’t know everything.”

As a coach, Knight has taken bits of all of his coaches, from the high school level on up. “They all had a different style,” he says of his high school coach, of Coach Lloyd Carr, of Coach John Gruden. He absorbed information from each of them, and molded it into his own. He appreciated how Carr was a father figure, and says that his position coach, Erik Campbell, was the same way. And as he says, his Michigan Brothers during the time he played had as good a feeling as you could have playing with each other – that family feeling is something he took from his Michigan days.

Coach Brady Hoke was Defensive Line Coach at Michigan during the years that Knight played for the Wolverines. Even though Hoke was on the opposite side of the ball, Knight had a good feeling about him back then. “He always had a smile on his face, always took the time to speak with you. You appreciate that. Sometimes in this business famous people don’t have time for you – Coach Hoke is not like that at all. He is a gentleman and always had a kind word to say. Everyone would see his name in a positive light.” Knight views it as the “Tom Brady effect” – in Brady’s case, despite some ups and downs at Michigan, “you knew that he had potential to do great things in his career.” He saw the same thing with Hoke, and that feeling became solidified when Hoke had success at Ball State and San Diego State. Knight was excited when Hoke got the Michigan Head Coaching job – he knows that Hoke is a Michigan Man and understands how to be successful in the program. This is exemplified in recruiting – “every parent is looking for someone to trust with their young man. Parents feel safe with Coach Hoke.”

As for recruiting in general, Knight says that parents need to feel that you, as a coach, are going to take care of their young man. In coaching 18-22 year olds, 60 percent of Knight’s effort is geared towards helping the young men off the field, in “developing young men to make right decisions.” Not only do you want them to make right decisions off the field, but those decision-making skills are vital for on-field success. “Every play involves many decisions that need to be made. If you make the right decisions most of the time, you will be successful. If you don’t, you will struggle. It comes down to having a grasp of the young men in your group and on your team, and being able to trust them.”

Knight ended our talk by saying, “Let everyone know I am Go Blue on September 1 against Alabama. Even though all my family is from there, and my brother won a National Championship there, there is no doubt that I am Michigan through and through. I am predicting a Michigan win comfortably.”

Keep up with Marcus Knight on Facebook.

Follow Northern Michigan University football on the web; and NMU Athletics on Twitter @NMUAthletics; and on Facebook.

Where are former Michigan players and coaches coaching today? Fergodsakes.com will have occasional features on those men who have graced the sideline representing the maize and blue.

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Season Preview – West Virginia Wesleyan (Asst. Coach Anthony Thomas)

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Anthony Thomas, 1997 National Champion, three-time Rose Bowl participant, Big Ten Champion, 2000 Michigan Team Captain, and 3-1 against the Buckeyes in his career, is entering his second season as Special Teams Coordinator with Division II West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVWC). Fergodsakes.com caught up with WVWC Sports Information Director Phiip Fetty to discuss the Bobcats.

The 2011 season for the West Virginia Wesleyan can be considered a success, even though it ended in rough fashion. Finishing 9-2, the Bobcats were undefeated at 9-0 heading into its game at Charleston. In position to secure a bid to the NCAA Division II playoffs, WVWC lost 28-17. All American quarterback Adam Neugebauer, who led Division II in passing yards and passing TD’s, had a tough day, throwing 5 interceptions. West Virginia Wesleyan then dropped its last game, 48-40, at Concord. If it’s possible to be disappointed with a 9-2 season, then WVWC was indeed disappointed.

Turning the page to 2012, WVWC is picked to finish third in the conference by the coaches of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC). Besides Neugebauer, the Bobcats lost WR Jon Meadows to graduation – Meadows led Division II with a school record 99 receptions in 2011. Offensive Coordinator Matt Barnes left to take a Graduate Assistant position with the University of Florida, and Tommy Ziegler taking over in 2012.

With Anthony Thomas leading the charge as Special Teams Coordinator, the specialists at WVWC will have their hands full this season. Kasper Bernild is expected to take over the placekicking duties this fall, and Ricky Conner is expected to handle the punt returning. The Bobcats will have a tough time replacing the graduated PJ Benners, WVWC all-time leader in total return yardage and kick return yardage.

Looking at the offense for 2012, Nate Montana, son of Hall of Famer Joe Montana, transferred to WVWC and is eligible immediately. Standing 6’5″ and 220 pounds with a cannon for an arm, Montana is expected to be the starter in 2012. Also transferring in is WR Donte Boston. With WVWC’s offensive philosophy of throwing the football, the pieces may just be in place to create some excitement.

Despite the potential offensive firepower, Head Coach Jonas Jackson is a defensive-minded coach, having played defensive end at Eastern Michigan. The strength of the 2012 Bobcat defense is expected to be the defensive line, anchored by All American Defensive End Jonas Celian, who recorded 14 sacks in 2011. The defense does return 7 starters from 2011.

2012’s schedule includes the season opener on September 1 at Millersville, with other road games at West Liberty (Sept 15); at Shepherd (Oct 6); at Fairmount State (Oct 13); and at West Virginia State (Oct 27). The home slate includes games against Bentley (Sept 8); Seton Hall (Sept 22); Urbana (Sept 29); Glenville State (Oct 20); Charleston (Nov 3); and Concord (Nov 10).

One of the more interesting games for WVWC is the October 6 tilt at Shepherd. In last season’s game at WV Wesleyan, the Bobcats scored two touchdowns in the final six minutes to force overtime. WVWC then stopped Shepherd at the goal line when Shepherd opted to go for 2, preserving a wild 45-44 come from behind overtime victory. The atmosphere at the game was electric, and the amazing, truly special victory spurred large home crowds for the final two home games of the season for the Bobcats. Shepherd has won six WVIAC championships since 2004, went 9-2 last season, and is certainly looking to avenge last season’s stunning defeat.

How has Anthony Thomas fit in at West Virginia Wesleyan? According to Fetty, Thomas has had a very large impact with his mere presence: “Anthony is a great influence, and makes the guys better every time he walks through the door.” Fetty goes on to say that the players know what he is about and what he has accomplished on the football field. He shows them how to balance being a student-athlete, and helps them become the best they can be on and off the field. The way Anthony Thomas carries himself has been nothing but a plus for the Bobcats.

Changing the topic to basketball, Patrick Beilein, son of Michigan Head Coach John Beilein, was named Head Coach at WV Wesleyan in June. Fetty had more interest from more media outlets for the hiring of Patrick Beilein than he has had for anything else, by far. People in the state of West Virginia still love and respect the Beileins, and are very appreciative of what they have accomplished and who they are as people. Those in the community believe that Patrick, who has had success on his own as an assistant, will be a great head coach. They say Patrick is a very classy individual, says hi to everyone, and is considered a West Virginia native son. He will have a tough time on the court in his first season, as the Bobcats will be replacing 4 of 5 starters from a team that went to the Division II NCAA Tournament. Despite the challenges ahead on the court, those in West Virginia are incredibly excited about Patrick Beilein leading WVWC’s program.

Philip Fetty is Sports Information Director at West Virginia Wesleyan. Follow the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats on the web at WesleyanBobcats.com, on twitter @wvwcbobcats, and on facebook. See the fergodsakes.com sidebar as we add more links for other teams as well.

Where are former Michigan players and coaches coaching today? Fergodsakes.com will have 2012 season previews on some of the teams that have a former Wolverine player or coach as part of their staff.

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