Mussman says he'll keep focus on defense

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- New University of North Dakota head
football coach Chris Mussman says the program's focus on defense
will not change under his leadership.

The Fighting Sioux offense, which had been under Mussman's
direction since 2001 when he was an assistant coach, has developed
a reputation for explosiveness and diversity.

But, "You have to look at the defensive side of the ball
first," said Mussman, a native of Owatonna, Minn. "I don't
foresee our defense being any different philosophically."

Mussman said he has finalized the job descriptions for his
offensive and defensive coordinator positions.

"When a new offensive coordinator is named, I have to allow
that person to coach to his personality," Mussman said. "Even
calling plays is an expression of one's personality. I can't be
looming over him. I have to let that person's personality come
through in how he calls plays."

Mussman said the terminology of plays in the system will not

"We have the capability in the system to do whatever we want to
do," he said. "We can be a two-back team or a no-back team ...
That's how we built it, to be versatile. My philosophy is to do
whatever it takes to win a game."

Mussman was named UND's head football coach earlier this month,
replacing Dale Lennon, who took the head job at Southern Illinois.

Mussman then went on a 3,500-mile trip through six states,
visiting with recruits who had given verbal commitments to the
school while Lennon was still coach. Mussman said all of the
recruits he contacted told him they were still committed to UND.

Mussman is taking the helm as UND approaches its first season as
an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision program. The
school formerly played in Division II.

Mussman acknowledges that scheduling quality opponents will be
an issue in UND's transition years.

"(Next season) is all about giving our guys as many
opportunities to play as possible, and to give them as many home
games as possible, which means paying guarantees and paying teams
to get here," he said. "And that's tough because our reputation,
especially at home, is a pretty good one."

Mussman said it was a "simple decision" for him to stay at

"My family and I have been here for nine years. My kids were 3
and 1 when we got here. To them, this is home," he said. "I don't
want to be one of those coaches who is packing up his family and
moving every year or every other year. I want my family to have a
sense of community."


Information from: Grand Forks Herald,