Our preseason college football coverage continues with a conversation with Assumption College first-year head coach Bob Chesney.
Chesney, who spent the past three seasons with Salve Regina, provided some insight on his experience with the Seahawks, while also talking about practices thus far and his relationship with his assistant coach and father, Bob Chesney Sr.
On translating experience from Salve Regina to Assumption College: “I think these situations are so similar. I think about the Salve situation because it was a team that had wanted to win and was ready to win and just couldn’t quite get there and couldn’t quite get over the hump. I think they were 1-9 or 2-8 and 4-6 and 4-6, and I think that last year was supposed to be the year, but it was 4-6. And then as we came in there, we started to talk about starting fast. That was one of the big things we were saying, so we changed the way we practiced. We came out and stretched and then went right into something live right away. When you’re playing a game, you come out and stretch and go into the game, you don’t go to special teams or do something a little relaxed, you go pretty hard at it, so that’s what we tried to simulate.
“The issue was we were in games my first year where we were up by 21 points in the fourth or we were up by (another amount) in the same quarter, but we just couldn’t hold onto the lead, so the finish became a big part of it. We then started talking about starting fast, but finishing strong and making sure that every practice had a start to it and had a finish to it. There was going to be a winner, there was going to be a loser, and we were going to try and figure out how we can get on the winning side of that more often than on the losing side of it and I think it’s very similar to here (at Assumption).
“You look at the amount of guys that graduated last year, there were some great names in that class, they were a phenomenal football team and it was a 4-6 effort, so it’s very similar and I think just changing the way we practice and trying to get them into situations where they’re winning and losing every day and they have to compete at a very high rate of speed (is important).”
On the message of ‘Finishing’: “When you’re a winner and when you’re a team that wins a lot that’s what you do. When you smell the blood in the water you finish or when you’re ahead you finish, and when you’re a 4-6 team or a 2-8 team or a 3-7 team you’re probably a decent team, but you’re not able to finish, so the moral of the story is every single day we come out here and there has to be a finish. You have to start fast and you’ve got to finish strong every day.”
On the opportunity to coach at Assumption: “I was very happy (at Salve). I thought that the kids were excellent kids, I was very happy being there, I had no intention of leaving there whatsoever, but then this opportunity presented itself and I got a call and we began to talk about it and I was just blown away from Nick Smith to the athletic department to the facilities to everything else here and it was something that I felt was necessary for me to be able to do.”
On practices thus far: “I think some of the young guys as freshmen recruits are doing a phenomenal job, but like everything you’re only as strong as your seniors. They’re going to be the heartbeat; they’re going to move you in the direction. They’re not just sitting back and hoping things workout, they’re attacking and making sure that their legacy is different.”
On a potential growing moment thus far: “There’s a quote that I love and we talk about it to our guys all the time, but it basically says that experience is the name that we give to our mistakes. So when you say someone’s not experience, you’re not saying anything other than they hadn’t been out there and made the mistake in the crucial moment because anybody in life – you have to touch the stove to know it’s hot, you can listen to anyone you want, but until you do it yourself you’re not going to learn from it, so I think that’s one thing and there’s been numerous moments where you say this is a giant glowing moment for this particular player.
“As a team as a whole, we’re just installing, so every defense you put in as it’s strengths and it’s weaknesses and there is growing moments within the scheme, within the offensive scheme and there’s growing moments within each individual person as they progress on this journey.”
On having younger coaches on the staff: “Well, we’ve got an Endicott guy and we’ve got a UConn guy, so they’re all young guys. We also have Coach (Matt) Sidebottom, who just graduated two years ago from Assumption, so the thing about the younger guys is that it’s a different energy. This is a great opportunity for them and they all want this to be their profession, so I think that’s something you’re obviously excited about. I’m a younger guy myself and I know that there’s nothing wrong with it, but being here in this town where there’s so much great high school football and people grew up listening, watching and playing football that a lot of people like Corey (Brown) in particular (get excited about it), but to find local guys that have had great college careers and want to make an impact (is special).”
On coaching with your father: “My father was a longtime high school football coach in Pennsylvania and when I was still in college he started coaching at Susquehanna University before he went back to high school and then he came with me to Delaware Valley College and King’s College and then when I went to John Hopkins he went back to high school again. When I went to Salve, he came up to Salve and then came over here with us.
“There’s certainly no one you’re going to trust more than one of your family members, though, and that’s a huge piece of it. We can bounce ideas around and I feel like I’ve molded a lot of my style off the way he as coached and the way he’s taught me to coach and just being around him all those years. Also, you’re family members are pretty cheap, so the good news is we’ve got a couch for him, but at the same time it’s phenomenal to have him here, so I think having your family members is just an exciting time to work and spend time with them.”
On a fond father-son football moment: “I definitely remember being in high school and I do remember not necessarily understanding the scheme of things. I was a quarterback and also played defense, so I remember numerous times him waking me up in the middle of the night to show me something he found on film, but those type of things – to wake up in the morning and hear that he was watching film all night long and found something that we could maybe find vulnerable in a defense or an offense that we could take advantage of, so those types of things were always really exciting. However, at that moment, I probably could have used that extra hour of sleep, but I couldn’t have asked for a better relationship.”
On three goals for the season: “Well, I think if you look back over history with any great football team and it’s not always true because you have some other things out there and some other factors, but if you really do look back through history and look at various champions there are three questions that are typically answered and if they’re answered affirmatively, you’re probably going to have a successful year. Number one is can you run the football, meaning when it matters and when the game is on the line and can you run this clock out when you have to? When we get into the red zone, can we punch it in and can we score? The adverse to that is can we stop the run? And number three is can we win the turnover battle? So, can we run the ball, can we stop the run and can we win the turnover battle? Now, sometimes running the ball means you have to throw the ball to loosen it up, so you can go back to running the ball, so it’s not that we’re saying we only want to run the ball, but I think any good team has to be able to run the ball in crucial situations.”