New defensive coordinator adapting to team

New defensive coordinator adapting to team

New defensive coordinator adapting to team
April 22
23:20 2015

Reece Waddell / Staff Writer

After a long, punishing day at practice, new Mean Green football defensive coordinator Chris Cosh strolled up and down the field, talking to a few individual players. Occasionally, he stepped back and watched a play unfold.

When the scrimmage ended, the team huddled in the middle of the field before breaking for the day. But the defensive players stayed on the field for a series of conditioning drills.

Cosh did not yell at his players as they went through what looked like an after-practice punishment. Instead, he said a few words and let his assistants finish before he walked off the field.

“I try and coach to the best of my ability, and sometimes that doesn’t involve yelling,” Cosh said. “You have to change and adapt to the times.”

After the offense scored for the fifth straight drive of the practice, a few members of the defense started yelling, and a small scuffle broke out at the bottom of a tackle pile. Cosh said while he appreciates the energy from his players, it must be contained and used in a positive manner.

“We have to be able to harness that energy positively and use it to get better,” Cosh said. “It’s an emotional game, and we have to do a better job of playing in between the whistles.”

Prior to North Texas, Cosh served as the defensive line coach at Buffalo University for the 2014 season. Before that, he worked with Lou Holtz at South Carolina University from 1999 to 2003 and Bill Snyder at Kansas State University from 2009 to 2011. Head coach Dan McCarney said Cosh’s experience with the Hall of Fame coaches has paid dividends in his ability to lead the defense.

“He’s played this game and coached it at the highest level,” McCarney said. “He was lucky enough to play linebacker at Virginia Tech and coach under some guys that are of the highest caliber. Everywhere he’s gone he’s been successful. I’m lucky to have him here.”

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Junior quarterback Josh Greer scrambles to avoid a sack from the Green team’s defense during the spring game on April 18. Photo by Edward Balusek – Visuals Editor

Cosh was hired during the offseason to replace John Skladany, who served as defensive coordinator from 2011 to 2014, and is a personal friend of McCarney. Skladany defenses at North Texas were often near the top in Conference USA. He and McCarney were both on staff together at Iowa State University, and helped raise the Cyclones from the cellar of the Big 12 to four straight bowl appearances.

“John meant a heck of a lot to this program,” McCarney said. “He’ll always be my friend and we’ll keep in touch. But now, its Chris’ defense, and I am so excited to see what he can do with thereins.”

Starting sophomore linebacker Calvin Minor said despite Cosh having a completely different personality than Skladany, not much has changed on the field.

“He runs a lot of the same schemes, the same formations,” Minor said. “There are a few little things he’s changed, but overall nothing too big.”

Cosh said he is not interested in revolutionizing any defensive strategies. Rather, he’ll simply build off the foundation that is already here.

“All I want to do is come in and improve on the principles [McCarney] has put in place,” Cosh said. “There’s a reason he’s been successful for so many years.”

Cosh said he spots potential in the Mean Green, but several leadership roles were vacated last season.

North Texas lost multiple seniors to graduation this offseason, most notably linebacker Derek Akunne, who served as captain of the Mean Green and led the team and C-USA in tackles with 108.

“There are guys that can step up and fill those voids, but I’d say I’m happy with how things have gone so far. Like anything, we have good days and bad days. I’ve seen some positions grow and improve and there are others that need some work. We have a long way to go before the season,” Cosh said.

After the annual spring game last Saturday, in which the White beat Green 48-36, McCarney said the defense is coming together, but there are no players who will immediately start come September.

“Those 11 that just started in the green jerseys today, they’re not going to be playing 70 snaps a game in the fall,” McCarney said. “We’ll rotate, and that will be the strength of our defense.”

For a football coach, Cosh is soft spoken, and wants to let his work on the field speak for itself. He said he is grateful for the opportunity at North Texas and is ready to get to work.

“I’m blessed to have this chance,” Cosh said. “Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been blessed to have some of the greatest players, coaches and mentors. I see a lot of potential here at UNT.”

Featured Image: Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh directs his men on the practice field on April 7. Cosh is the Mean Green’s newest addition to the coaching staff. Photo by Ryan Vance – Senior Staff Photographer

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