MOREHEAD Beau Griego hasn’t forgotten.
Morehead State University held its annual football media day on Tuesday. It’s been eight months and 28 days since 2018’s displeasing and unsatisfying 3-8 season — the Eagles’ third straight sub-.500 campaign — ended with a four-game losing streak.
“I still don’t have it out of my mind, to be honest with you,” said Griego, a senior linebacker from Florence, Arizona.
Griego thought lack of discipline was the main cause.
“Not only defensively, but just on the team as a whole,” Griego said. “It was just the little things. It’s the penalties. It’s the third down, you make a stop, but you hold a little bit on the jersey and they get a pass interference call.”
You don’t have to know spread formation offenses and Cover 2 pass defenses to figure out the Eagles’ two major tasks: shore up a defense that allowed 43.1 points and 458.5 yards a game, and replace departed quarterback Lawson Page, who threw for 2,240 yards and 16 touchdowns and ran for 780 yards and eight more scores.
A quarterback quintet will compete for Page’s place: redshirt junior DeAndre Clayton, redshirt sophomores Zach Hardin and Mark Pappas, and true freshmen Grady Cramer and Trenton Kelley.
So, is there a badly confused, ridiculously muddled signal-calling snafu? Coach Rob Tenyer has not picked a winner.
“We’ve got how many days?” Tenyer said. “I’ve got (15) days. Our identity will be dictated by our personnel.”
The Eagles welcome 34 new players and five new assistant coaches — a number Tenyer said is common.
“We’ve tried to target some junior college guys and even some transfers,” he said. “I think that’s allowed us to develop a little more depth on our football team, especially on our defense.”
The new coaches are defensive coordinator Tony Brinson, Jerome Riase (defensive line), Ken Lucky II (outside linebackers), Sylvester Wright IV (cornerbacks) and Chris Palubinsky (tight ends).
Brinson joined the staff a week before spring football practice started.
“I’ve been in the Northeast all my life, my coaching career the last almost 28 years,” Brinson said. “This was a little bit a change of pace. (Former MSU and New York Giants star quarterback) Phil Simms and I are friends.”
Riase is the newest coach — Tenyer hired him two weeks ago. “He coached D-line at Georgia Tech last year,” Tenyer said.
Brinson said Job No. 1 was to change the culture.
“Like I tell my players, I did not come down here for the barbecue and catfish,” Brinson said. “I came down here with a purpose, and that’s to get the job done. … The guys that were here (last year) were content to some degree.”
MSU’s defense will be slightly different — a 3-4 is added to last year’s predominantly 4-3 setup.
“We can do a bunch of different things out of it,” Griego says of the 3-4.
Redshirt sophomore Starr Hutcherson returns to the secondary after missing last year with a torn right ACL.
Five Eagles have been named to the Phil Steele Preseason Pioneer Football League teams. Senior offensive lineman Josh Poe is a first-team selection, junior kicker Andrew Foster and sophomore returner Ian Holder are second-team picks, and senior offensive lineman Cam Bailey and junior defensive lineman Vaughn Taylor Jr. made the third team.
Morehead State opens the 2019 season on Aug. 29 at 6 p.m. at home against Union College.
“This season’s really important,” Hutcherson said. “You’ve gotta be selfless.”