MARQUETTE — Last year, the Northern Michigan football team lost six games, two of them by three points and another two by just a single point. Head coach Chris Ostrowsky was determined to address the issues in those close games and he went all–in with a big signing for his new defensive coordinator David Corrao.
“It was critical for me to not be quick, but to be right, and really be detailed in how I wanted to go about things from a defensive perspective. So we waited and we did a pretty thorough job. I just think the search just continued to go back to David. We’re excited to have him. He’s got a great family that’s going to be moving to Marquette and he’s going to do a great job for us so we’re excited,” Ostrowsky said.
Corrao spent the last eight seasons in the NFL as an assistant linebackers coach and has made various collegiate stops before that from Ole Miss to Syracuse. So what attracted him to this position at NMU?
“I had a lot of mutual acquaintances. We have a lot of similar mutual friends with Coach Ostrowsky. They’ve told me some good things about him. I did a little research on the program and saw that they’re pretty close. Had some close games that I think I can hopefully come in and improve the defense to the point where we’re going to win a lot more of those games. And for me, selfishly and individually, to get to have a chance to be a defensive coordinator, something I’ve been working a long time for and I’m really looking forward to it,” Corrao said.
Although he’s only been with the team for less than two weeks, Coach Corrao talked about what he likes about the defense that ranked ninth in the GLIAC last year in points allowed per game.
“Well we’re going to do what the players can do. It doesn’t matter what I know. It doesn’t matter what I can write up on a board. It doesn’t matter what I can draw on a playbook. It matters what I can teach and it matters what the coaches can teach and what matters is what the players can execute. I think what I can bring is adjusting what we’re going to do with the players we have,” said Corrao.
Corrao biggest attribute is his versatility to coach multiple defensive schemes, including 4–3 and 3–4 alignments. But at the end of the day, he wants to spend this spring focusing on the basics first.
“The emphasis is going to be on fundamentals and technique. That’s what we want to spend most of our time on. We want to spend our time on the d-line, knocking people back and playing with our hands. Linebackers playing with the right footwork and fitting in the right places making tackles. DB’s working on their footwork and hands and their eyes. The scheme, how we line up and what we’re going to play, that stuff doesn’t matter. As long as we’re playing with fundamentals and technique and good play speed, we’re going to be a good defense,” Corrao said.
“You got to be able to change and adjust to things as the game evolves. He’s cool and he doesn’t panic. He understands what the next phase is. We’ll continue to grow in the system and we’ve got some really good players there and we got a really good defensive staff. I think we got it right and time will tell,” Ostrowsky said.
And for those wondering if the man from South Beach can handle the U.P. weather, he says his days spent in upstate New York have prepared him for the cold.
“Yes, the blood gets a little thin when you spend eight years in South Florida. We’re going to have to spend some money on some thicker jackets and more pairs of jeans and some warmer clothing. But snow is snow. Weather is weather. We got this great indoor facility here so the football isn’t affected by it,” said Corrao.
All eyes will be on the defense this year as the Wildcats look for their first winning season since 2009.