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New assistant coach offers insight to team

September 18, 2008

The 2008 Falcon football team kicks off the home opener this Saturday against Northwestern, and newly hired Defensive Coordinator Greg Bower will be on the Ramer Field sidelines for the first time.

Bower was an assistant coach at Northern Illinois University for the past eight seasons where he specialized in coaching tight ends and defensive tackles. Prior to his coaching stint at NIU, Bower spent seven seasons on the staff at his alma mater, Loras College, in Iowa.  He was the team’s defensive coordinator form 1996-99. During his time there the Duhawks posted five seasons with a .500 record or better.

Although this is his first season with the Falcons, the defensive philosophy that he brings to this year’s team is not that much different than it has been under Head Coach John O’Grady.

“To be successful you need to do some fundamental things well. We want our defense to be aggressive, to fly to the ball, to tackle well and to execute. I know those things have been stressed before,” Bower said.

When asked what he expects from his defensive players every week, Bower pointed to three main points that have been reinforced since fall camp.

“We preach attitude, effort and knowledge. Having a good work ethic is key, and as coaches we really want to see effort from our players on every play.” Bower said. “The knowledge part comes from taking and accepting criticism, correcting mistakes and learning from it.”

Integrating into a different coaching staff, establishing a rapport with new players and getting to know unfamiliar opponents are some of the challenges that face a first year coordinator. Yet Bower said so far the season has brought one major challenge.

“Without getting too complicated, the thing we are trying to do on defense is not typical.  Our scheme is a type of hybrid that really hasn’t been tried before, so there is no book on it. Meshing our schemes with our players and trying to put them in the best possible positions to succeed is the challenge of coaching,” he said.

UWRF Offensive Cordinator Andy Kotelnicki said Bower’s experience and energy were points that gave the new defensive coordinator instant credibility with the players and fellow coaches.

“He brings a new perspective to our program,” said Kotelnicki. “You look at where he’s been, what he’s done and how organized everything is, and it’s a good fit.  His high level of energy helps too.”

Although the Falcons lost there season opener 22-6 to 7th ranked St. John’s on the road in Collegeville, Minn, Bower said the staff took many positives away from the game.

“We were very proud of the effort given by our defense. Through three quarters we held them to around 100 yards rushing, and they’re a good team.  We also won the turnover battle by forcing three. We do need to do a better job on 3rd down and get our offense back out on the field,” Bower said. ìWe can and will get better.”

The Falcons return to action this Saturday as they host Northwestern at Ramer Field.  Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.