Spring provides fresh beginning for Eastern Michigan football team
After the Eagles’ 0-12 finish last year - English’s first season at Eastern - he expects a change in philosophy, too.
"We're just about getting better every day," English said Tuesday. "We know we have a long way to go in every respect. I knew what the situation was coming in here and if you waste time thinking about that, it does nothing for you in the future.
"So we're just trying to think about every rep and every period and every play."
At times, English was forced to a slower practice tempo due to a lack of numbers on his roster, which will be enhanced once all of the freshmen report for summer workouts. The majority of starting jobs remain wide open - starting at quarterback - where sophomores Alex Gillett and redshirt freshman Devontae Payne have split snaps this spring.
Despite some experience at tailback with senior Dwayne Priest and junior Corey Welch and in the receiving corps with Tyrone Burke and Ben Thayer, English has found himself with plenty of teaching moments this spring.
"We just were not physical at all and we didn't play hard," English said of last season.
This spring, English and his staff - which includes seven new coaches, including defensive coordinator Phil Snow - have put a greater emphasis on effort. There's a new dedication to finishing plays and on toughness, establishing a brand of football English expects will make the Eagles competitive.
Seven of Eastern's 12 losses were by 21 points or more, overshadowing the near-misses - including in a 3-point loss to Northwestern - that made up the Eagles' season. It was the lopsided losses that hurt the most, demonstrating not so much the inability to execute as much of a team that English said didn't have the will to stay close.
"I want people to see a team people can respect," English said. "When you don't play hard and you're not physical and you don't know what to do, nobody respects that."
Jeff Arnold covers sports for AnnArbor.com and can be reached at (734) 623-2554 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.