Back on the field

MARQUETTE – The 2016 football season may be a few months away, but Northern Michigan University is already preparing as the Wildcats are in the middle of spring practice.

After a handful of days into the four weeks worth of sessions, NMU head coach Chris Ostrowsky is happy with his team.

“We are eight practices done now, so we are more than halfway,” he said. “The players’ energy and their commitment to achieving our goals for the spring have been awesome.

“It’s a different feel in regard to where we’ve been to where we are, and that’s exciting to see. At the same time, it’s important to take a humble approach and work (as) hard as we can every day to get a little bit better.”

Ostrowsky has a veteran corps on both sides of the ball this year and depth as well coming off 5-6 overall and 4-6 GLIAC records last fall.

One of the key veterans primed for a great senior season is quarterback Shaye Brown. Last season he threw for 30 touchdowns and 3,123 yards, both school records.

“The continuing maturity and progression in Shaye has been impressive,” Ostrowsky said. “He’s a cog in the wheel and a lot of people have to execute to be successful.

“Clearly though, he’s played a lot of football and successful football. Shaye played 11 games last year where he threw 30 touchdowns and six picks (interceptions) and that’s a tremendous season for anybody. If we can maintain that level of excellence, he’ll have a great senior season.”

Defensively, the Wildcats have a new coordinator in David Corrao, who comes to Northern after spending the last few seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Ostrowsky feels that Corrao brings a lot of experience to his coaching staff.

“His experience speaks for itself,” Ostrowsky said. “He’s coached under the great defensive minds in football today.

“I’m excited to have a guy on the staff with that kind of knowledge base and he’ll continue to grow and get used to college football after being in the NFL.

“His football intelligence is over the top and I’m excited to see him grow in the program.”

Ostrowsky is also happy with how the 2016 schedule looks. The biggest change is that Northern will have a tougher opponent in its home opener than last year when it takes on Angelo State (Texas).

“We have a great schedule,” Ostrowsky said. “I’d argue to say it’s as good as any in America. We dropped Quincy and picked up Angelo State, a perennial (NCAA Division II) playoff team.

“It’s a very eclectic schedule and filled with a lot of depth. If we can be successful in this schedule, I feel pretty good that we are playing some good football teams…. It’s a pretty good deal.”

As the spring game approaches in just over a week and the academic year wraps up, Ostrowsky is feeling positive and said that the Wildcats are moving one step at a time.

“We’re excited to finish spring and make sure that we are doing everything right academically with our players,” he said. “It’s a long process before the season starts and you don’t want to fast forward too quickly. You just want to take it one phase at a time.

“Clearly we have progressed from 2014 to 2015 and it’s going to be pretty exciting to see us take the next step here from 2015 to 2016.

“I think we are on pace and I think we’re on track. We’ve just got to continue to show progress.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.