In today's edition, OTP was truly fortunate to touch base with one of the most memorable Cardinals in recent memory, and one of the driving reasons behind the success of 2008. Nate Davis set school records, MAC records, and most importantly, led this Cardinals team to an undefeated regular season, a second consecutive bowl berth, and most impressive… a 5th round draft selection by the San Francisco 49ers. It was an honor and a pleasure to touch base with Nate, the newest, but hopefully not the last, Cardinal playing football on Sunday afternoons.
Cardinal Corner: Nate Davis
OverThePylon: Normally we ask about what you've been up to since suiting up for the Cardinals, but all of us and all of the fans of the program are well aware of your travels to San Francisco. How has your adjustment been since transitioning out of Muncie and to the professional level?
NateDavis: It's been a big difference traveling from Muncie, IN to San Francisco, CA and moving all my stuff out here. It's been a big challenge, but I'm still working through it.
OTP: The fan base seems to be panicking a bit after the season opening losses at BSU. Just as many people are stepping up and saying this is the time when the team needs supporters the most. It's a similar situation to your early years at Ball State. What do you think these fans can do to help this team succeed? Have you got a chance to see any of the games?
ND: The thing is that they need to keep showing the players support. That's what happened with us when I was playing. When I first arrived at Ball State, students were like ‘why should we even go to a game? They're terrible.' During my junior year everyone was like ‘we can't wait.' It was Monday, and they couldn't wait until Saturday. Everybody couldn't wait to go to the game." We just have to continue getting support year after year and it will just build up. I have not gotten a chance to watch any of the games. Maybe on my bye week I might be able to swing by there.
OTP: One of the biggest differences this season has been the change in offensive production. Is that due to only youth? Is there something else that the casual fan may be missing? How can this offense improve?
ND: We've lost a lot of guys, that's what it all comes down to. When you lose four of your five starting linemen that becomes a big loss. When you lose other players, you lose one of your best receivers that has ever attended Ball State and then we had Louis Johnson, and we lost our tight end Darius Hill, that's a big factor. But they've got to just keep on working and push through it. Definitely keep it rolling. Coach Stan Parrish will get them through.
OTP: Is there a difference in coaching from the sidelines? Coach Parrish's offense seemed to click dramatically when he was in the press box and could see exactly what the defense was doing. Since his move to the sidelines and assuming the duties of head coach, that seems to have changed.
ND: I really couldn't tell you much about that because I don't know what's going through his mind being down on the field. It's hard for me to answer however, I think that whatever is best for the team, they should use.
OTP: This week's game at Army gives the team a chance to get away from the fans, the students, the pressure, etc. but is also the team's first road game. Do you see a road game now as a positive or negative? Why?
ND: It's definitely a positive because it's another game. It'll be another great day to go out there and play football and that's just another chance to go out there and have fun. That's the thing that they have to do is to go out there and have fun. Don't worry about what everybody else is talking about. That's one thing that I've always taken to heart. Don't listen to what people are saying, they'll talk all good about you then the next day you lose that may change. Just go out there and have fun and just play your game.
OTP: As a new California resident have you had the chance to touch base with Brady Hoke who is now at San Diego State? Did his leaving Ball State help in your decision to leave early for the NFL Draft? Have you kept in touch with Coach Parrish?
ND: I have kept in touch with coach Hoke. I talk to him and coach [Jeff] Hecklinski a lot. It was a bit of a factor for me leaving but they were also a lot of other factors for me leaving. As for keeping in contact with Coach Parrish, I always do. Coach Parrish and I will always have a great relationship. He's the one that gave me a chance to play at Ball State. He gave me a lot of help, not only on the field but off of it as well.
OTP: Last season saw the Cardinals ring up maybe the greatest year in athletics in school history. What has to be done to ensure those types of seasons are the norm and not the exception?
ND: I truly believe that Coach Parrish will get it done. All they have to do is to keep on working hard. They just have to have heart.
OTP: Can you give us your favorite memory as a football Cardinal?
ND: As a matter of fact, it was last year against Western Michigan. Watching the scoreboard hit double zeros and we went undefeated. That was my most exciting memory at Ball State. The fans gave us so much support. I've never seen that much encouragement.
OTP: Any last words for Cardinal fans?
ND: Thanks for all of the support. GO CARDS!
Tremendous thanks and gratitude to Nate and the San Francisco 49ers for letting this interview take place. It is truly an honor and privilege to bring this to the fans. It's certainly good to get the sort of perspective on the success of the program and the ability of the players and staff from one of their own. Good luck in your rookie season, Nate, and like he said… Go Cards!!