BUIES CREEK, N.C. – With just one practice remaining before the 2013 Campbell Football Spring Game, new Camel head coach Mike Minter talks about his first camp.
The 2013 CU Spring Game is set for Monday night, April 8 at 7 p.m. at Barker-Lane Stadium/Ed Gore Field. The Camels will split into two teams for the contest, with a traditional scoring format.
Monday's game format will feature two 20 minute halves with a running clock.
The day will kick off with the fifth annual Earl Smith Golf Tournament at Campbell's Keith Hills Country Club. Registration begins at 8:15 a.m. with a shotgun start at 10 a.m. For more information, or to register, please contact the Campbell football office at 910-893-1974.
Campbell announced Mike Minter as its second head modern era football coach on November 27. Minter officially announced his first coaching staff on Dec. 20.
The 2013 season will begin on Aug. 31 at Charlotte. The team's six-game home schedule will start with UVa.-Wise on Sept. 7 at 6 p.m.
Question: You're almost through your first round of spring practices as a head coach. How has that experience been so far?
Mike Minter: It's been like clockwork. I had a plan going into it, and basically it was about executing that plan. We knew what we wanted to get accomplished and I feel like we were successful in doing that. We competed, and we established a mindset of winning that I think the guys are starting to understand. It's also about execution. When I say that, it's the things like dropping the ball, quarterback-center exchange, jumping off sides, things like that. You have to get to the point where those things don't happen. That's not what we do. Guys have to understand that execution is very, very important, and I think we've established that.
Q: What has been the difference between being an assistant at Johnson C. Smith and Liberty and now being the head coach at Campbell?
Minter: My approach has not changed. The only difference is that everyone now looks to me for the answers. As far as how I approach the game, that didn't change. I'm always challenging my guys, challenging my coaches to be better, to understand why we do what we do. I always have a reason. We're not out there just to be out there, we have a reason.
Q: What has been the biggest improvement you've seen in your team over the last few weeks?
Minter: Mindset. That's the number one thing that I think changes a team from 1-10 to champions. Do you believe? Do you believe that when you walk on that football field that I'm going to beat you? I'm prepared, I have the skill and I have confidence because I've seen it work. That's where it's at, and that's the change I've seen in a few short weeks.
Another thing is the speed and the tempo that we practice. When we first got here, we ran about 70 or 71 plays per practice. Now we're at about 90 to 95 plays in the same time frame. So the speed and the tempo of what I'm used to is becoming common nature to these guys and that's the way we want to play the game.
Q: What has been the biggest surprise that you've found this spring?
Minter: We have a lot of talent, a lot more talent than people think. That's the biggest surprise. I also told our coaches, "I'll grade you on how you get the lowest guy on our roster to play. If you can get him to play and understand your system, then you have a good system. If he doesn't, then you need to change your system." Another surprise is how even our lower tier guys have gotten better over the spring. I've seen dramatic improvement from top to bottom, and I'm really excited about that.
Q: What do you think has been the biggest factor behind there improvement?
Minter: I think the coaching staff. Our staff has done a great job of explaining what they want done. The other reason is that we have given everyone the same amount of reps. No matter if you think you're in the first group, second or third group. Everybody gets reps and everybody gets to start every day. When you get reps, you get experience and you get better.
Q: You brought up having a plan that you wanted to execute. What exactly did you set out to accomplish during spring camp?
Minter: There were three things. I wanted us to come in and be technically sound. We have to make sure that we have the ABC's down before anything. Next is competition. I want us to compete, I want us to know how to compete, and I want us to be able to turn it on when it's time to compete. Third is having that championship attitude, that mindset. We're not just out here for spring ball and practice. No. We're out here with the mindset that we're getting better. We have a mission to win a championship, so every day that you wake up you better be thinking about that. Whether you're going to the classroom, to practice or to the meeting room, whatever you're doing, you need to have that championship on your mind.
Those were the things that I wanted to accomplish. When I look at it now, we are technically sound. You can turn on the film, look at every position and say, they're getting coached. Their technique is good. I tell the coaches and the players that having good technique is your resume. If you write a paper, you better be technically sound, or that resume is getting thrown away, right (laughs)? It's the same thing on the football field.
The last thing is competition. I set up competition periods throughout the spring. Offense versus defense, whoever wins gets a point. There might be 15 points, whoever loses has 20 up-downs at the end of practice. So the energy you see throughout practice because it's competition time, they say I've got to turn it on. They don't know when it's coming, they just know it is coming and there will be some sort of competition in this practice. I think they understand competition, not only offense versus defense, but competition within each position, and creating that at every position. I want everybody competing to play at Campbell University.
Lastly, that championship attitude. Anytime you get up at 5:00 in the morning, get on the field at 6:00, and it's rainy and cold, you have to fight through it and not let that dictate how you practice. You begin developing that tough mindedness, which is what a championship football team has to have. Elements don't dictate how we go. It's a blessing, it's been rough (laughs), but it's been a blessing with these elements this spring, and guys are getting it. We're getting better.
I think we're developing and headed in the right direction to a championship attitude.
Q: How would you say the players have responded to your practices?
Minter: I think they've responded well. They like it. I know that because I like it. As a player, I loved going to practice when I knew it was going to mean something. I think, as players, they gravitate towards that because they are competitors. I think the way that we practice, it's fast, it's to the point; we're not wasting a lot of time just doing stuff. Everything has a purpose. People in general, if you have a mission and a purpose to that mission, will give you all they have. That's what's going on with our players because they understand the purpose.
Q: How excited do you think the players are to get under the lights and display what you guys have been working on this spring?
Minter: I think they're really excited. That's what I talk about as a coach. Everything that we're doing right now is to show everyone on Monday night how sharp and how good we are. So get ready for the show and come ready to go. I'm already getting their minds ready for Monday night. These 14 practices are about getting each one of our players ready for Monday night. I think they get it and understand it, and I think they're going to go in and do what they do.
Q: What will the fans, students and community notice about Campbell Football next Monday night at the spring game?
Minter: What I hope they will notice is a football team that is disciplined, and a football team that's playing hard, aggressive, physical football on offense and defense, and a sharp football team. You know good football when you see it, and I want everyone leaving the stadium saying, "now that's good football."