Bell makes spring debut at Ericson Stadium

Head+Coach+Steve+Bell+works+with+his+wide+receivers+during+the+team%E2%80%99s+first+spring+practice+on+April+7%2C+in+preparation+for+their+upcoming+regular+season.+Spring+practices+will+continue+for+the+Vikings+until+May+10.%0APhoto+by+Katie+Canning.

Head Coach Steve Bell works with his wide receivers during the team’s first spring practice on April 7, in preparation for their upcoming regular season. Spring practices will continue for the Vikings until May 10. Photo by Katie Canning.

Head Coach Steve Bell works with his wide receivers during the team’s first spring practice on April 7, in preparation for their upcoming regular season. Spring practices will continue for the Vikings until May 10.  Photo by Katie Canning.
Head Coach Steve Bell works with his wide receivers during the team’s first spring practice on April 7, in preparation for their upcoming regular season. Spring practices will continue for the Vikings until May 10.
Photo by Katie Canning.

The first spring football practices of 2015 are underway, and these practices are the first with new head coach Steve Bell.
Bell was hired in January, replacing former head coach Rob Cushman (17-23). At Monmouth, Bell was the head coach for the last 15 years and had a record of 112-44. Bell also has the record for most career coaching wins at Monmouth.
Bell brings a new belief system and offensive perspective in contrast to Cushman’s defensive perspective as the team’s former defensive coordinator.
“I don’t think it is change but more instilling the belief system we have into the team’s culture,” Bell said. “And I think it is awesome because I haven’t done that for 15 years.”
Bell brings a new offensive approach, and the approach is much different from last year, according to 2014 team MVP and all-CCIW second team quarterback Sam Frasco.
“The speed of our game is really going to pick up compared to last year; it will be a different style of offense,” Frasco said. “Coach Bell compared it to the New England Patriots offense with the pace of the University of Oregon.”
The different approach, both offensively and defensively, has had an effect on the players and added a dynamic of positivity, as well as a message that the record must improve. Augustana has been 5-5 the past three seasons, and the coaches have told the players that mediocrity will not be the case.
“These guys really have a new mindset, and with Coach Bell, we have implemented everything as a lot more positive, upbeat and everyone is just feeding off of that,” Frasco said. “Since I have been here we have been 5-5 the past three years. The new coaching staff has been talking about that in meetings, and that average isn’t going to cut it anymore.”
Bell has been keen to meet with all his players and have similar meetings with players. This is because he is new to all of them and has not interacted with them.
“In our minds we have 70 plus freshmen out there at spring football practices because we haven’t interacted with them before or earned their trust yet,” Bell said.
Two of Bell’s three coordinators have had previous ties with him and Monmouth. His special teams coordinator and assistant head coach, Dave Ragone, coached alongside Bell during Bell’s entire tenure at Monmouth. His offensive coordinator, Josh Kotecki, was a team captain for Bell at Monmouth and was selected as an All-American in 2008.
His third coordinator, Dan Bauder, was hired by Bell because Bauder’s coaching style is the exact same as the way Bell wants his defense to play.
“I want my defensive coaches to be energetic, and I want them to be tough and be very good at their craft,” Bell said. “I don’t know if those things are that different from what the players experienced, but that’s how I want our defense to play on the field.”
With high expectations for the season, program development, and recruitment of talented prospective students all hanging in the balance, Bell has large shoes to fill. However, fans and players alike will look to Bell’s previous successes as inspiration for better football seasons to come.