New Bulldogs defensive coordinator and linebackers coach William Inge didn’t know head coach Kalen DeBoer before they met on Indiana’s staff last year, but they hit it off over a love of dessert.
DeBoer was Indiana’s offensive coordinator at the time while Inge was the special teams coordinator and in his seventh season as a Hoosier. In a teleconference on Tuesday, Inge discussed DeBoer, his decision to join Fresno State and his goal of building leaders.
“Every Wednesday after the victories, we had what we called ‘victory goodies.’ So our specialists at the time on Wednesdays, we met in our office because sometimes our head coach met with some of our young players in the team meeting room,” Inge said. “So my wife would always fix a dessert on Wednesdays. He was always the one coach who found a way to sneak in and get some dessert on Wednesdays.”
When DeBoer got the Fresno State job and asked Inge to take charge of the Fresno State defense, it wasn’t a hard decision for Inge, even though Indiana had just completed its best season in over 25 years.
“When he came and asked me if I would be willing to come in and lead the defense under him, I talked to my wife for a minute, but I knew exactly what I wanted to do, because I know that he’s what you call the right kind of leader you want to be under,” Inge said. “Because he has high expectations, will hold you accountable, but will also show you how much he cares about you as well. And that’s what you want out of a leader.”
However, the one difficult thing about joining the Bulldogs was leaving the relationships and connections he had built with the players at Indiana, Inge said, speaking about the importance of nurturing and building leaders out of the young men on the team.
That desire to connect with the players and help each and every one of them become an asset to society is a driving force for Inge.
“I am really driven to make sure when we have a chance to have young men come under our umbrella, that we can build them into being great people,” Inge said.
One such player he had an impact on is current NFL superstar linebacker Khalil Mack. Inge was the defensive coordinator at Buffalo for Mack’s freshman and sophomore seasons.
“The one memory that I would have that just truly sticks out to me because I saw when [Mack’s] life evolved – it was on a Thursday in August prior to us starting the season, and he dedicated his life to Christ in a chapel,” Inge said. “And I think when he did that, everything in his life started to evolve better, and he has really held true to that as the humble person that he is today.”
While Inge doesn’t have anyone on the Bulldogs’ roster that has blown up opposing offensive lines like Mack has, he has a talented group of players returning that he expects to be consistent and aggressive.
“We say on defense there are three things we will be able to do: We will be consistent, aggressive and violent,” Inge said. “So when you push play, those are three things you should be able to see – consistent in how we apply all of the fundamentals per position, aggressive in how we attack the football and then at the point of attack we have to make sure that we are the aggressive, the violent person.”
Inge brings along the 4-2-5 defense with him, which he has been running versions of for the past dozen years.
He’ll have to figure out which player can fill the “Husky” role and serve as a linebacker/safety hybrid. That player, Inge said, will have to be skilled enough to play all over the field in several different capacities, such as dropping back in coverage, covering the sideline and jumping in the box to stop the run.
But no matter the talent that he has, he believes the ‘Dogs can win through hard work and leaders on the field.
“I think it goes back to the saying that I think everyone’s probably heard before, but I remember our head coach saying this when I was in college: ‘One lion can lead 100 sheep better than one sheep can lead 100 lions,’ and that’s something that I’ve always taken personal account, have taken to heart where if we can make sure we have the right lions leading our defense,” Inge said.
“We’re going to be where we need to be, and I know it’s my responsibility and our responsibility as a defensive staff to make sure we give our players the correct vision so can go accomplish our mission.”
Photo: Fresno State Athletics