Football navigates new changes

After a 2018 campaign where the Greyhounds reached their fifth NCAA playoff appearance, the football team will be seeing a number of changes this year. After the retirement of longtime Head Coach Bob Bartolomeo, former Defensive Coordinator Chris Keevers took the head coaching position. Tim Cooper, the University of Pittsburgh’s former defensive quality control coach was hired to take Keevers’ place as defensive coordinator. Cooper brings considerable experience at all various levels of collegiate football. 

“I would be curious to see if there’s anybody else that’s legitimately coached at every single level in college football,” Cooper said. “I would just say my strength is the fact of having seen it done at division III through the Big 10 to the ACC, there are certain fundamentals, … certain things that are important, and there are some things that are just fluff, and sometimes you don’t need to waste your time doing those things.”

Photo by Tony Reeves Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Charlie Bernhardt and Redshirt senior tight end Danny Annee practice blocking for field goals while new defensive coordinator Tim Cooper watches the drill. Annee scored once last season with five receptions and 29 yards.

Cooper began his career at DePauw University as a student athlete and spent time as a coach at schools such as Miami University of Ohio, Indiana University, Butler University and the University of Pittsburgh before coming back to the Midwest to coach for the Greyhounds. Cooper said he does not plan to change much of what the defense did from last year, but instead plans to give the players more freedom to attack and be aggressive. Keevers said that he did not want to be the head coach and defensive coordinator at the same time so he put his faith in Cooper to manage and run the defensive side of the team.

“Tim runs a different style of defense…,” Keevers said. “He’s been around, and he’s a really good football coach, and we’re going to have a lot more [to it]. The coverage will be tighter. We’ll blitz a little bit more. We’ll move around a little bit more. It’ll just be a different look, defensively.”

The Hounds will see some other changes as well.  The quarterback position opened up during the offseason, and in the spring ball game, the starting spot was given to backup quarterback Redshirt senior Bryce Stancombe, according to coach Keevers . Stancombe said he plans to go out and compete for the job every day. 

“We all go in expecting to compete for our jobs every season,” Stancombe said. “So it’s about earning the team’s respect and the coaches’ respect, proving you belong every given day you are out there.”

Even with the leadership changes, the Hounds still are ranked at the top of the GLVC preseason poll, with many of the quality players from last season returning in key positions. Keevers said one of the team’s biggest strengths is its returning run game, specifically the two running backs. 

“One’s a pre-season All American Toriano Clinton, and then Al [McKeller)] was the MVP of the league last year,” Keevers said. “So they’re good players, and we’re going to run the football.”

Along with the rushing game, Cooper said that the Hound’s offensive and defensive lines are going to be strong, and he credited the work to Strength and Conditioning Coach Steve Barrick.

“Coach Barrick does a great job here in the offseason in the strength and conditioning department. You talk about developing that, there’s no question that I think UIndy’s been successful because of that room,” Cooper said.

The Hounds have 10 games this season with the opener on the road Sept. 5 at Ashland University. Cooper said the UIndy community is important to the team. 

“We just appreciate all the support.  I’ve really only had one experience, the spring game, since I’ve been here, but the spring game was awesome. All the people that came out and supported the guys, and you can feel the support in that. It does matter,” Cooper said. “That’s part of the reason why, again, Undy’s been successful, because it’s a great atmosphere at home. And for people who don’t think that matters, it does, To a team. And it makes the kids feel good, and they play better. And it’s a neat atmosphere, and it’s fun for the UIndy community.”