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Date Posted: 10:34:48 09/08/06 Fri
Author: LarryL9797
Subject: CCSU Football in the news

Friday, September 8, 2006

By Roger Cleaveland

Copyright 2006 Republican-American

NEW BRITAIN -- Three years ago, the Central Connecticut football team was barely noticeable on the Division I-AA Mid-Major football landscape.

Two Northeast Conference co-championships later, the Blue Devils have embraced this season as an opportunity to distinguish themselves. With plenty of returning talent and a lot of momentum, first-year coach Jeff McInerney hopes to establish Central as a program that can serve as a consistent, quality alternative for players and fans in the state.

"We are the only I-AA program in the state that is a state school. There are other schools with respect to Sacred Heart, but we are here to meet the socio-economic needs of the state and give kids a chance to play at a high level. There is a niche for us. You have Yale, but they are a private school. You have UConn, but that is a I-A school, and then you have us."

What Central has now is credibility as a program. Up until three years ago, the Blue Devils had never been ranked in the Sports Network I-AA Mid-Major poll. The poll consists mainly of schools from the Pioneer League, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and the Northeast Conference.

Central went into this season ranked No. 6 in the poll but moved up two spots this week after a resounding 34-6 win over Marist in the season opener.

Saturday the Blue Devils travel to Georgia Southern, a perennially I-AA playoff contender and currently the No. 12-ranked team in all of I-AA.

McInerney, who took over the program when Tom Masella moved to Fordham this year, said he wants such challenges as Georgia Southern in order to keep the program moving forward.

"Tom Masella did a great job and he made this job good in a lot of ways and hard in a lot of ways," McInerney said. "Tom won back-to-back co-championships and we have a lot of the players that he had. We can't set the standard any lower. So the only natural next step is to win our conference outright, because we have a lot of good players coming back."

The team has a lot of players returning at the skill positions led by sophomore quarterback Aubrey Norris, the NEC Offensive Rookie of the Year last season.

"I hope Aubrey Norris is ready to make that next progression," McInerney said. "We have really worked hard on throwing the ball down the field. Aubrey has an extremely strong arm, and he is extremely knowledgeable."

The team also has a talented backfield with Jo Jo Freeman, who rushed for three touchdowns last week, along with Corey Harge and Rutgers transfer Justice Hairston from New Britain.

"We feel good about our situation at running back," McInerney said. "The talent is here. Now we just have to go out and execute in one heartbeat." The defense is led by both defensive lineman Farod Muhammad and defensive back Devon Douglass, both of whom were named to the Preseason I-AA Mid-America team.

McInerney has made a concerted effort to recruit locally, because he believes there is enough talent in the state to take the program to lofty heights.

"I can't tell you precisely where we are going, but I know good things are going to happen here," McInerney said. "I know the location and the surrounding communities are great. We just have to try to keep focus on what Tom did and continue that.

"You have to give credit to the kids. Coaches change, but the kids are here. They are great kids. We feel we can win with Connecticut kids. We feel the future is bright."

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Replies:

[> Former GSU defensive coordinator knows task ahead -- J.J., 11:50:25 09/08/06 Fri

Here's another good article from the Savannah Morning News. Check out the info on the proposed size of the new stadium - 13,000 seats is impressive!

----
Donald Heath | Wednesday, September 6, 2006 at 12:30 am |
Jeff McInerney will send his Blue Devils against Georgia Southern


Few are better connoisseurs of football programs than Central Connecticut State first-year coach Jeff McInerney.

He has had 14 coaching jobs in 25 years but considers Georgia Southern among his favorite stops after spending 1990 and 1991 with the Eagles.

Those positive memories may not continue after his Central Connecticut State Blue Devils visit GSU Saturday in Paulson Stadium.

"Georgia Southern is arguably the best football team this school has ever played," McInerney said. "The people in South Georgia are special, and they demand a special football team. Their kids are going to be ready, and they're going to get after it. I kind of know what (atmosphere) to expect. It's the message I've been giving my players."

McInerney was the Eagles' co-defensive coordinator with Tommy Spangler in 1990 when Southern posted one of the great turnarounds in Division I-AA history.

GSU lost three of its first four games to start the season but finished by winning 11 in a row, including a 36-13 victory over Nevada in the national championship game.

"I remember I was 29 years old and we were blessed to learn football from Erk Russell through Tim Stowers," McInerney said. "I remember Erk saying, 'The only thing better than a simple idea is a simpler one.' "

McInerney had his own simple slogan 'Fire up,' and his GSU defenses often responded, finishing ninth (in 1991) in scoring defense.

After GSU, McInerney went to Rice, Duke Southern Cal, Oregon State, Nevada-Las Vegas, Tulsa, North Dakota State and Rhode Island.

He has been Stowers' defensive coordinator at two different programs.

Now the 46-year-old McInerney attempts to take Central Connecticut to a higher level during his first shot as a head coach. School officials displayed their confidence during his Jan. 13 hiring. He took over for Tom Masella, who left to take the Fordham job.

"Jeff has been involved with many successful college football programs and learned from many great coaches," said CCSU athletics director Charles Jones.

McInerney inherits a program that has raised its scholarships to 30 this season. He said the school has plans to increase CCSU's stadium capacity from 3,000 to 13,000.

It's a good situation, McInerney says.

He should know.

NOTES: Central Connecticut opened the season with a 34-6 victory over Marist Saturday. The Blue Devils have won the Northeast Conference the last two years...

College fans may know Central as a basketball power. The Devils won the Northeast Conference Tournament in 2000 and 2002 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament...

GSU is 16-8 in season openers, but five of the losses came against Division I-A programs...

The Eagles have lost just one home opener since 1996. That came last season 23-20 to McNeese State.

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[> [> Re: Former GSU defensive coordinator knows task ahead -- Skyhawkct, 16:30:50 09/08/06 Fri

It's so sad that a newspaper in Georgia recognizes CCSU as a basketball power and the Hartford Courant treats CCSU like the red hair step child. It's also sad that we hear about the 13,000 seat stadium from this paper and hear nothing about it here in CT other than rumors. What the Hell is wrong with the press up here...or...where is CCSU's public relations????

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