Expectations High At Monmouth Football Media Day
Monmouth held their Media Day during preseason practice as the Hawks prepare for the 2018 season.
Monmouth held their football Media Day this week in West Long Branch, NJ. With so many familiar faces returning to the fold for the Hawks, expectations are high for a team that made it to the FCS Playoffs last season.
There were many things covered during the press conference and through individual interviews. Here are three takeaways from Monmouth Media Day.
Defensive Secondary Is A Work In Progress
It was mentioned in the 2018 Monmouth preview that Monmouth is missing three starters from a stout secondary from a year ago. Tymere Berry is the lone returning starter, and while he will anchor the new look unit, it is a work in progress.
“We’re figuring it out now a little bit,” said Monmouth defensive coordinator/associate head coach Andy Bobik. “We got a lot of young guys who are doing a lot of different things and trying to mix and match, trying to find out what guys are able to do. Tymere (Berry) has taken the bulls by the horns back there. We got a lot of work to do, but I like what’s going on back there.”
Berry knows that this is a year of transition for the secondary. He has stepped up to the challenge of being a leader. He credits guys like the recently departed Mike Basile in getting him ready for the leadership role he is in.
“I love taking on the role and challenge of being the guy that everyone looks to for something,” Berry said after the team’s 12th preseason practice. “I had guys like that when I was the young guy. They showed me some great examples of what it takes to be a leader. I’m just trying to be the best leader and the most vocal and someone for these younger guys to look up to.”
The defensive backfield is a significant question mark for Monmouth. Do not expect a complete answer until well after their first game against Eastern Michigan on Aug. 31.
The Offense Is Ready
With the question of the secondary on defense, the offense is ready to fly for the Hawks. During practice, the unit was crisp, and there were a ton of deep throws. While it was just a practice, it seemed that coach Kevin Callahan might trust quarterback Kenji Bahar to take some shots downfield this season.
For a unit that prides itself on running the ball, Monmouth returns four of five starting offensive linemen. Having those guys protecting Bahar, big things are expected from the quarterback who knows his line makes his life a little easier.
“Knowing that I have a good group of guys blocking for me and throwing their hearts out every play helps me out a lot, “said Bahar. “I could focus on not just my first read, but I could go to my second and third read. It makes everything easier.”
With 10 of 11 starters returning this season on offense, Monmouth will rank at the top in offense in the Big South.
Things Have Changed At Monmouth
In full disclosure, I am a Monmouth University graduate (Class of 2007). I never go to campus anymore, so my visit to the school this week was a welcome change to see what has happened at MU. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.
Kessler Field has transformed as the field has a new big screen and brand seating along with a brick facade. The OceanFirst Bank Center, the on-campus arena, could stand up next to any campus facility in the country. The feel of the school is one of evolution from when basketball games were played in the lovable but hot Boylan Gym. Football games were in what seemed like a high school stadium.
Monmouth played a bowl on campus in 2006 against a Jim Harbaugh-led San Diego team. That season for the football team, in which they won the Northeast Conference, started a change in philosophy for the Monmouth football program and the athletic department as a whole.
“I think that (2006 season) was a key period for not just Monmouth athletics but also Monmouth football,” said Callahan. “After 2006 is when you saw a dramatic shift in our schedule. That’s when we started playing Maine, Villanova and we gradually started increasing scholarships. Then in 2013, we made the decision to leave the NEC, which was a major step for of Monmouth’s athletic programs.”
“2006 was the springboard that got us to where we are now.”
Monmouth University has grown, not just in size but name recognition since my three years there. The name of Monmouth may continue to grow as the Hawks look for their first-ever Big South crown in 2018.
Did I mention that Monmouth will be playing Big Ten member Rutgers in 2020? I guess the name is growing faster than many thought.
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