WMU DC Football Lou Esposito to assume head coach for San Jose State game in Tim Lester’s absence of COVID

KALAMAZOO, MI – The couch is the staple for many college football fans on Fall Saturdays, but for West Michigan head coach Tim Lester, it’s been 20 years since he passed. a weekend to watch from these friendly confines.

That’s where he’ll end up on Saturday, when the WMU host San Jose State for a 2 p.m. kick-off Saturday at Waldo Stadium, after the fifth-year head coach tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week.

RELATED: WMU football coach Tim Lester to miss San Jose state game after positive COVID-19 test

“When I was playing Arena football, I had a fall once; it must have been 2001. I think that was the last time I had a Saturday where I wasn’t at a game, so it’s going to be crazy, ”Lester said on a video conference Wednesday.

Lou Esposito, who has been on Lester’s staff for the past five years, the last three of which as defensive coordinator, took on the head coach role – a role he previously held at the college level during a three-year stint at Davenport University.

“As far as the meetings, who spoke to the team after practices, Coach Espo has handled this from the jump, and obviously he’s been the head coach, so he knows exactly what’s coming up.” , Lester said. “He did a great job, and I’m not far off because I’m on all the TV screens talking to him at the same time, but Coach Espo will take care of that for me on Saturday afternoon.”

WMU head coach Tim Lester chats with defensive coordinator Lou Esposito during the Broncos’ spring training on Saturday, March 23, 2019 at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo.

Lester said running backs coach and offensive coordinator Mike Bath would resume some play on the offensive side of the ball, but in addition to acting as a field-level look to help quarterback Kaleb Eleby and coordinator offensive / quarterbacks coach Eric Evans, Lester said he doesn’t have a ton of tasks to delegate on game days.

It also helps that many of Lester’s decisions, like trying to convert a fourth down, are dictated by a workbook full of football odds and analysis, which will help ease Esposito’s decision-making burden.

“Obviously, the penalty calls will be the responsibility of Coach Espo,” said Lester. “Most special teams decisions – I have a really good conversation normally with Coach Palcic (Special Teams Coordinator Joe Palcic) about what we want to do with every punt, basket, kickoff, return kick off, and he’ll make those decisions without the conversation.

“So I think the way we run it, there are always multiple people involved in most of the decisions, so there will be less conversations, and the guys will have to make the decisions… We rely on the analytics a lot. , so the book runs the show a lot of the time, which is good for some of the decisions that might have to be made on Saturday. Coach Espo will need a lot of pressure when we have data from which to make most of the decisions anyway. “

WMU comes off a 44-41 win over Pitt, which was the Broncos’ first victory over a Power-5 opponent in the Lester era, so it’s only natural to wonder if the head coach’s diagnosis will affect any momentum. before week 4.

Lester doesn’t believe it.

“I mean, what these guys did on Saturday against a good team at home – the way we did it is probably the most impressive thing, I think,” he said. “Just the heart the guys showed – we had a lot of penalties – way too many – but the guys kept responding and not letting that affect their next play emotionally. We have some turnovers. Getting the ball out with four minutes and not having to return the ball is a huge thing for the confidence of this football team, and for them to watch some of the things we didn’t do well – some of our passing stuff. covers that we need to improve with and levers – but I don’t think that takes anything away.

“I think it’s just another chapter of the book, and something we can overcome and hopefully something we can learn from.”

In a statement on Tuesday, Lester said he was vaccinated against COVID-19 and had mild symptoms. However, he is prohibited from meeting his coaching staff and players in person before kick-off, and he is prohibited from communicating with his team during the match.

His plan is to watch the game from his basement with a three-TV setup, which includes the ESPN3 broadcast and hopefully a wide-angle view that shows the 22 players on the pitch, although the availability of a such video stream is not clear. from Wednesday afternoon.

“I mean, from a coach’s point of view, that’s kind of what you’d like to see, but if I only get TV view, I only get TV view; we are working on some things, ”he said. “I am not allowed to have contact with anyone. That’s what I’ve kind of told a lot of people about. I don’t think this week has been that different, when it comes to my contact with my coaches and the planning of the game and the staff meetings. I think Saturday is going to be a lot different, and that’s something I’m going to have to manage trying to plan for now, but it’s been a good week and I’m just trying to make sure we capitalize and learn from last week’s win because I thought we played really well; that’s really what I want to make sure we get because we’re going to need it to move forward.

Lester is due to join the squad on September 30, but in the meantime he’s broken down the training film with his assistant coaches and got a head start on preparations for the WMU Week 5 game against Buffalo, which marks the start of the mid-American conference room.

“I’m a wearer, so I’m in a meeting virtually all day, and then the time that I wrestled this week went by, they’re out on the court, so I started watching Buffalo – that” is awesome, ”Lester said. “I watched more movies this week than I have ever seen in my life; that’s all I can do.

“So I’m already moving on this, and hopefully by Sunday, when these guys come into the office, I have more information for them than they ever had from both. sides of the ball, saying, ‘Hey, that’s who we’re playing. I’ve watched all of their games.

Until then, the Broncos (2-1) have a chance to build on their momentum heading into the conference season against a 2-1 San Jose State team that just earned a 17-14 victory over Hawaii in of week 3 and was near a touchdown. of USC in the fourth quarter of their Week 2 game, before falling to the Trojans by a score of 30-7.

The San Jose State defense uses multiple fronts – a 3-4, a 4-3 and a 3-3, to name a few – to confuse their opponents, so miss the eyes and Lester’s contribution will put more pressure on Bath, Evans, quarterback Kaleb Eleby and center Mike Caliendo, and it will put even more emphasis on getting to the line of scrimmage quickly.

“Fortunately, we go straight to the line of scrimmage every game,” said Lester. “We scan; we take our time; we want to make sure we know what they’re in. So they definitely cause challenges, and sometimes they’ll give you an even box and play a little more cover, and sometimes they’ll load the box and stop the run, so Kaleb is going to have to make a lot of big decisions.

“Anytime you have a three-way front it gives them variety because they can always drop eight at any time and then only rush three, which adds one more player to every cover they have, so Kaleb will need to know when they will do this and how to react at that point.

“It will be a big challenge. I know Kaleb and Mike – I’ve spoken to both of them on the phone – and they’re excited about the opportunity.

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