bleedCrimson.net: With signing day wrapped up who are some of the guys who you are the most excited about and think can have the most impact?
Doug Martin: I think we did a great job of signing offensive and defensive linemen in this class. I think we got a lot more size, height, length. Those guys are all 6-4 or bigger. I feel really good about that. I also think that we helped ourselves speed-wise again. A couple guys I think can make an immediate impact; OJ Clark, a wide receiver out of Wichita Falls, he’s an impact player. All three of the tight ends we signed I think are going to be really good. We got the one junior college tight end, Clayton Granch, the other two high school tight ends (Montrice Johns, Jackson Solbeck) can really be special here and they’re going to play early. We need tight ends in the program. Then the one defensive guy I think will be really fun to watch is Terrill Hanks, a linebacker from Florida. I think he can be a special player.
bc.net: One of the things that really stood out about the stood out about the recruiting class is the geographic diversity of the class.
DM: We had a couple of coaches who had some ties with people, the linebacker from Florida, Coach Littlejohn had a tie there. We really don’t recruit that area but we had an in with the high school coach. The same thing with Montrice Johns, the tight end from California, we had a tie-in there. Other than that we’re trying to stay in our Texas, Arizona, New Mexico areas.
bc.net: Were there any positions that you weren’t able to address that maybe you wanted to?
DM: No, we didn’t have need for a quarterback so we didn’t take one. We really felt like we had to work hard on the defensive front seven so linebackers and defensive linemen were really the premium on defense. On the offensive side for the guys that are going to play early, we knew we had to get some tight ends, wide receivers and the place kicker was a really big signing for us. We really got what we needed.
bc.net: You’re going to take over the offensive coordinator duties this season. How does that change what you’ve been able to do in the past as a head coach?
DM: I didn’t feel like I could do it my first two years here because I had to do so many things head coaching-wise like trying to raise facilities, trying to get the facilities fixed, getting out and meeting people and trying to raise money to get those things done. I knew we had major problems academically with our football team that had to be addressed and that was going to take a lot of my time. Then recruiting, we had to upgrade the talent level here. So the first two years I spent most of my time as a head coach taking care of those things. But now we’ve got all that straightened out and have a good foundation in all those areas and I really feel like I can help our football team more by coaching the quarterbacks and developing that position more than anything else. That’s where I’ve always had success at doing and honestly that’s what I enjoy doing. I think it’ll be a lot more fun for me than just being the CEO, head coaching type of thing.
bc.net: What things do you want to implement that maybe haven’t been done in the past offensively, what are the biggest things you want to improve on?
DM: The passing game is number one, the development of the quarterback and the passing game. I think we can be a much better passing than what we have been because of the talent level we have at wide receiver and quarterback. I think we’re really gifted at both those positions and at running back. I think Larry Rose can be dynamic in the passing game too. I think all of that. The tight end position I would like to see be more involved in our offense both run and pass. Those are some things I think people will see a difference in. A lot like 2011 when I was here before.
bc.net: Going back to that 2011, you talk about wanting to get the tight ends involved more and even back then you didn’t really have a true group of tight ends, you had some guys who were converted tight ends. What specifically do you want to see from that group?
DM: Number one I want to see them be able to block for us because we have a dynamic running back back there in Larry Rose and if you have a really good blocking tight end it helps your running back, it helps your running game. Then the other thing is I want to be able to use more formations and motions and be able to put more things on the defense and you really can do that with tight ends. They really present matchup problems for a defense. You can start to get into some wing sets with two tight ends and those types of things that really start to stress the defense more than just being very vanilla in your formations.
bc.net: You talked about coaching the quarterbacks and that development. What things specifically do you as an offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach immediately in the spring want to see get changed?
DM: I think the decision making in the passing game. We obviously had way too many interceptions last year and I think our talent level is really good at the quarterback position across the board. I just think we have to put them in the right positions as far as taking care of the football and making plays at the same time. I think we have a lot of playmakers with Greg Hogan, Teldrick Morgan, Andrew Allen is going to be out there now as an h-back for us. We’ve got a lot of guys who can make plays. We just have to get the ball in their hands.
bc.net: From a recruiting standpoint you coached Julian Edelman and you had the segment that aired on Super Bowl Sunday, how much does that type of thing help when you or your assistant coaches are going out to recruit a kid and they see that segment and they can say, “Hey, that’s the coach that’s recruiting me.”
DM: When you have things like that it makes a big impact in recruiting. Those are things that players can see and they can see that you’ve developed other players and it validates you as a coach and you as a program and as an offense. I’ve been very fortunate, I had David Garrard who was a quarterback for 12 years the Jacksonville Jaguars, I had Josh Cribbs who was a record-setting quarterback at Kent State who made it to the NFL and I had Julian Edelman. So those three guys and we’ve had a lot of success developing them in this system.
bc.net: Also from a recruiting standpoint we’re starting to hear a lot about the autonomy stuff from the Power Five conference and a lot of that stuff is starting to trickle down in terms of cost of attendance and a lot of the mid-major schools are starting to talk about that. How much of a factor is that going to be for recruiting for New Mexico State and are those discussions you’ve already started to have with the new AD Mario Moccia?
DM: Yeah, it’s certainly going to impact recruiting for everybody at every level. I think everybody will find their own little niche in how to handle it. We’ve got a lot of great things to sell here. We do some things here for our players that other mid-majors don’t get done, especially in the area of nutrition. There’s some things that we can sell that will certainly make us marketable when it comes to those competitions.
bc.net: With having a new AD, how much time have you been able to spend sitting down and talking about where you see the program at right now and what your vision for where the program is going to be in two, three, four, five years and what resources you need to get there?
DM: I’ve really enjoyed working with Mario because he’s very visible. He’s a lot more hands on than Dr. Boston was and that’s not saying anything negative about Dr. Boston. It’s nice to have a guy around that really wants to be involved and where you’re headed and what you need to get there and he’s very involved and very energetic about it. It’s a great advantage for us right now. We have great leadership at the top right now with President Carruthers and Mario at the AD position.
bc.net: Having been at New Mexico State now for a couple of years, what in your mind are the next couple of big upgrades that you want to see happen to help elevate the program?
DM: Number one is the locker room for the players. We really need to get that to be a facility that’s impressive also. It made a huge difference, this is the first year we recruited with the new field and the new weight room. It was dramatic, it was a real wow factor. If we can get the locker room for the players next, it would give us just about everything we need.
bc.net: You hear all the time that championships are won in the spring and offseason. What are the top three things you want to see the team work on in the spring?
DM: Number one is the quarterback position. We’ve got to develop quarterbacks that can win games for us. That means you’ve got to be able to make plays and you’ve got to be able to take care of the ball. That’s certainly the biggest thing. Defensively we’ve got to keep developing to where we can stop the run game. We haven’t done that yet and that hasn’t been done here in many, many years but I think our talent level is getting us to where we might be able to do that for the first time. Then I think overall the team chemistry. I think that’s such a big deal. The staff chemistry and the team chemistry I think is the next thing for us and I think if we get that we’ll have a chance to beat anybody.
bc.net: You promoted Coach Vance to defensive coordinator after Coach Coyer retired. What does Coach Vance bring to the table from a defensive coordinator standpoint?
DM: We had seven years together at Kent State where he was the linebackers coach and we were always a good defensive football team there. If we had ever had a change I would have made him the defensive coordinator there. Our coordinator just stayed the whole time. This was an opportunity to reward him for a lot of loyalty and a lot of hard work. I think he brings a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm and obviously a knowledge of the game. I think he’s somebody that our players really enjoy playing for and the with the chemistry part of things, I think we’ll really gel on the defensive side with him.
bc.net: Does it help that he was the linebackers coach and the linebacking core and particularly the middle linebacker tends to be the quarterback of the defense?
DM: Yeah, absolutely. When you’re the linebacker coach you have to be involved in pass coverage and run defense both. He’s got a great overall perspective on everything. Calling it from the linebacking position is the best play to coordinate from.