North Texas Daily

Canales looks to take offense to new heights

Canales looks to take offense to new heights

Canales looks to take offense to new heights
September 03
23:00 2014

Ehsan Azad / Staff Writer

Within the past five years, Mean Green offensive coordinator Mike Canales has been an interim head coach and an assistant on two different coaching staffs. All of that has happened during his tenure with the Mean Green football team.

Now, entering his fifth season, Canales is looking to keep building the Mean Green offense and making it more successful than last season.

Canales came to North Texas back in 2010 as the new offensive coordinator for former head coach Todd Dodge. Canales said he liked what he saw with the Mean Green and could create something special with the offense.

“Mixing in the run game with the spread and the multiple sets you could use, instead of lining up three by one or two by two with receivers,” Canales said. “I’ve studied that a lot and felt like that is what I have become.”

Canales’ experience with the offensive side of the ball started back in 1985 when he was a graduate assistant with Brigham Young University. From there his career took off, and in 1996 Canales arrived at the University of South Flordida as  the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Canales was a part of former USF head coach Jim Leavitt’s first staff. From 1996-2000, Canales helped establish the new program and helped the offense grow into a threat. He also returned there from 2007-2009.

“Building that program from nothing, taking it from scratch and building that program and then going back there and taking it to No. 2 and No. 10 in the country was obviously memorable because we did something that people thought could be never be done,” Canales said.

When Canales got to North Texas, things changed fast for the first-year coordinator. Midway through his first season, Dodge was fired and Canales was appointed as interim-head coach. During his five-game tenure, the offense went from 16.9 points-per-game to 33.8 points-per-game.

“I’ve always wanted to become a head coach and maybe one of these days I will get my chance, but it was a chance to be something other than a coordinator and lead these young men,” Canales said. “It was a great experience for me and I can always say I will go down in history as the head coach that closed down Fouts Field.”

After the season was over, Dan McCarney was named head coach of the Mean Green and one of the first moves he made was to ask Canales to stay on board as offensive coordinator. Both coaches had worked together at USF.

“I love Mac. I know the type of man that he is, the character, the integrity, the values, and the toughness he would bring to the program, which I knew it needed,” Canales said. “I knew he had the right mindset to turn this program around and I wanted to be a part of it.”

McCarney said it was the time at South Florida that really let him knows the man Canales was and how good he was at his job.

“I saw firsthand what he and [offensive line coach] Mike Simmonds, the kind of coaches, teachers, and mentors they were,” McCarney said. “It wasn’t something I read in some d— resume or some bio, so I have faith in them and so it was an easy decision to keep those guys with me.”

Canales has helped the offense grow over the past five years, including helping former quarterback Derek Thompson turn into the Heart of Dallas Bowl MVP. Canales said the quarterbacks on this year’s roster can be just as good as Thompson.

“It all starts with building the relationship and having trust in the room,” Canales said. “My mindset is to get them to understand that I played the position. I played the position from high school to college and I’ve been to where they’ve been.”

Canales said he wants them at the end of the day to understand that there are highs and lows to the position.. The quarterbacks are open to Canales’ coaching and love the experience he brings.

“I wish I got here right out of high school, because every day I am learning something new from him, literally every day,” sophomore quarterback Josh Greer said.

Greer said Canales has a very simple way to approach offense, and that is whatever it takes to win, that is the way they are going to play.

“If we have to run the ball 50 times a game or pass the ball 50 times a game, we are just about winning,” Greer said. “We try not to have turnovers and just get into the end zone.”

Canales wants to keep working on the offense and making it even better, and he said that they are on the right track.

“I want to create great balance and I think that’s where you can be successful,” Canales said. “Look at Stanford, they have a little bit of pro-style, a little bit of spread, they play a hard-nosed mentality on offense and I think that’s who we are.”

Featured Image: Offensive coordinator and quarteback’s coach Mike Canales cheers from the sidelines during a game against Kansas State University in 2010 . Photo courtesy of Eric Capper – Mean Green Sports

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