Stillwater News Press

Sports

August 5, 2011

New LU football coach ready to lead Lions back to playoffs

LANGSTON, Okla. — LANGSTON — A new era has begun at Langston University.

Mickey Joseph found his first head coaching opportunity by waiting in the wings in the Lions football program, eventually being named the interim head coach over the summer.

“I always prepared myself for this day. So it wasn’t a surprise when I became head coach,” Joseph said Friday during Langston’s media day. “I was either going to do it here, or I was going to do it somewhere else. It just takes time and I’ve just been blessed to have an athletic director like coach (Patric) Simon to give me a shot to do it.”

Joseph has the football background. The first-year head coach was the starting quarterback for the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the 1990 season in which the Big Red went 9-3 with a loss to No. 2-ranked Georgia Tech team in the Citrus Bowl. Joseph has had coaching stints throughout the Midwest from the University of Central Oklahoma to Wayne State College (Neb.) and in the south at Alabama State University and Nicholls State University in Louisiana.

“That’s how you come up and create your package for a head coach. You pull it from Nicholls State, you pull it from Tulane, you pull it from Alabama State and from when I played in Nebraska,” Joseph said. “You talk to head coaches around the country. I talked to Jon Embree from Colorado. You pull it from all different directions and that’s how you come up with your plan to be a head coach.”

For the past three years, Joseph has been on the Langston coaching staff under former head coach Greg Johnson, who stepped down over the summer to return to teaching.

LU athletic director Simon said it was a no-brainer “from Day 1” that Joseph would be the replacement.

“Coach Mickey is very knowledgeable about the sport, very personable. He’s a hands-on guy, as I am. It was a marriage made in heaven,” Simon said. “I just knew that when coach Johnson wanted to go back to the classroom that coach Mickey was our guy.

“For three years, I’ve had an opportunity to meet with him, be with him. He was a grinder. He grinded and worked and all our kids just emulate him so much. So I’m just happy to have him and have a smooth transition.”

Joseph said he’s in a delicate situation with his current roster with most of the starters being seniors and having three or four years experience at Langston.

“They’ve been around for a while — some of them have been playing for three years, some of them for four years. So you’re trying not to change a whole bunch,” Joseph said. “But you do try to tweak some things for them.”

But one thing the players said Friday was that the intensity under Joseph has picked up.

“We’re picking up things well. Everything is at a high tempo, everything is fast,” senior linebacker Cayetano Hingle said. “We’re just moving everything at a fast pace and just picking up everything and learning everything. So everything’s going well.”

It’s not just on the field intensity, however, that Joseph is focusing on. The first-year head coach said his team will spend more time in meetings than on the field.

“We’re going to attack more of the mental game,” Joseph said. “We’re going to probably do more meetings — time wise — than practice time. So we may spend two hours in a meeting and an hour-and-a-half on the field. Because as far as physically, they’re gifted. We’ve just got to get them caught up mentally about what we want them to do.”

As for his offensive philosophy, Joseph didn’t say whether or not the Lions would be pass happy or run heavy. But he did commit to running the ball with senior Carlos Ross, who is 660 yards away from becoming the all-time leading rusher at Langston University.

“I know one thing, if you can run the ball and if you can stop the run, you can win,” Joseph said. “I know one thing we have is a talented backfield and we also have some talented receivers. ... We’re going to run the ball. It might not be as many times as people are going to want us to run, but it will always depend on what you’re giving us on defense.”

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