Tahlequah Daily Press

April 10, 2013

Low-key Carlo

As a defensive line coach, NSU coach Casey Carlo likes to let his work do the talking.

By BEN JOHNSON
Sports Editor

— His fiery red hair makes him hard not to notice. He measures in at roughly 6 feet, 4 inches tall with a defensive lineman-like frame, making him stand out in a crowd.

But if it were all up to Casey Carlo, he’d rather stay inconspicuous.

“I kind of keep a low profile as a D-line coach,” Carlo said. “It’s like being an O-line coach; you don’t want anyone to know you’re name because that means you’re doing your job.”

That’s been Carlo’s mantra ever since he got into coaching in the late 1990s. And he’s been quite successful at being instrumental on every coaching staff he’s joined, meaning his defensive players have done all of his talking for him.

“It’s all the players,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to coach some good players that want to work hard. Every place I’ve been, and I’ve inherited good players, we’ve improved in our national ranking. I’m not so much proud of that, as we’ve always improved against the run.”

That and rushing the passer were two areas Northeastern State was lagging in 2012. The RiverHawks ranked last out of 15 teams in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletics Association in sacks, and NSU was 10th in rushing defense, allowing 178.4 yards a game.

That prompted NSU head coach Kenny Evans to bring in Carlo after former coach Mike Knoll retired and Greg Richmond left to explore a new career opportunity.

“His background is what really attracted me,” Evans said of Carlo, NSU’s defensive line coach and co-defensive coordinator as of late January. “...I knew what type of coach he was, and I knew he was a big technician, especially with defensive linemen. The whole package made it an easy hire for me.”

Ironically, Carlo, 41, will replace a coach that he had a vast amount of respect for in Knoll. Carlo even went as far as to describe Knoll — who Carlo worked with at Upper Iowa — as his mentor.

“We had a really good relationship,” Carlo said of Knoll, who was NSU’s assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator.

“I don’t know if you really replace a guy like Coach Knoll, you just try and fill his shoes.”

As a player who has spent time with Knoll and Carlo, Faafetai Te’o said he has noticed differences between the two.

“Coach Knoll just wanted you to be more athletic, where as Coach Carlo wants you to be athletic but be smart out there, too,” said Te’o, a 6-foot-1, 290-pound defensive lineman. “Like, some plays when a guard pulls, Coach Knoll would just tell us to attack it. Coach Carlo tells me to wait patiently and play as a linebacker and fill the gap.”

Evans said Carlo is technique guru.

“He’s going to teach technique and get the repetitions with the guys, and they’re going to do it over and over and over,” Evans said. “...All of those techniques that he’s teaching will carry over on Saturdays and it should be a plus for us.”

Carlo will team up with Steve Patterson and collaborate on co-defensive coordinator duties. But Carlo admitted that Patterson will likely handle the play-calling duties in order to set his secondary on every play.

“Defenses are normally run from the back to the front,” Carlo said. “You have to decide what kind of coverage you want to run to stop the passing attack. I have the easy job. Coach Patterson has the hard job.”

As for Carlo’s early impressions of NSU’s defensive line, there have been a few players that have caught his eye.

“I think Te’o has done a good job. James Renfrow has looked pretty good,” Carlo said. “...Right now, we’re looking for consistency. Football is a game of mistakes, and whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins.”

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bjohnson@tahlequahdailypress.com

Follow me @BenJohnsonTDP