August 4, 2009

CMU defensive end Frank Zombo talks 2010 season

Recently ChippewaCountry had the privilege of sitting down with Central Michigan defensive end Frank Zombo to discuss the upcoming season. Zombo was All-MAC first team last year as he collected 9 sacks last year and led the MAC in tackles for a loss. Despite those stats, there have been some rumblings that the 6-foot-4 and 268 pound Zombo may slide inside and play defensive tackle, but those have proven to be nothing short of rumors.

"It hasn't come to my attention that I'm playing defensive tackle, but the depth inside could be somewhat of a problem if some of our young guys can't step up, which most likely they will. So if I had to, I'd do whatever it takes" said Zombo.

With Zombo's move inside unlikely, some younger guys have to step up and take the pressure off the defensive line's veteran core. Zombo shared his thoughts on some guys who have impressed him so far.

"John Williams, he's one of our younger guys and he's really improved at nose guard. Aaron Kaczmarksi is a true freshman that's doing well, then really Sean Murnane. He seems like a young guy even though he's not, but he's really stepped into a leadership role".

The CMU defense has taken its fair share of disparagement the past few years as the perception has been that the offense has to create a shootout to win games. The goal this year is to change that.

"I was saying this before; I don't really care about individual things. I really want to be part of the best defense in the MAC and that's really our goal this year. We're sick of hearing that we're holding the offense back and we want to be the one's winning games".

While the defense as a whole has had to face criticism, one unit in particular has taken the blunt of the blame…the secondary. As the top returning pass rusher in the MAC, Zombo knows the defensive line can take some pressure off the secondary.

"That's always something you want to do as a defensive lineman. The D-line can really dictate games by getting a consistent pass rush. Regardless of who our secondary is, we're going to try and get pressure. This year we might need to create as much because our secondary really has a lot of experience, a lot of good guys and a lot of good depth, so we're expecting great things from our secondary."

September 5th continues to creep close as the Chippewas open their 2009 season at Arizona. Mount Pleasant summers can bring occasional heat waves, but nothing like the team will face in Tucson. Will CMU do anything to prepare for that intense heat?

"Really nothing yet, I've thought about it with like saunas and stuff like that," laughed Zombo. "We might go in there and just sit with some of the guys, especially with some of our depth on the defensive line, we could get all of us to go in there and sit and get some extra heat going".

Despite the normal response of taking the season one game at a time and focusing on the next game on the schedule, Zombo admitted there is one game he looks forward to every year.

"I always look forward to the Central/Western game. It's always a lot of fun, but every game is really important this year".

This years Central/Western contest will be played on the enemies turf, otherwise known as Waldo Stadium. Two years ago, CMU pulled off one of the more memorable games in the rivalry as the Chippewas escaped Kalmazoo with a last second victory. Because of moments like that, the rivalry just means more to the players involved.

"It's always fun, it's just a different feeling when you play Western. I wish that my senior year was at our house, but I always look forward to playing Western" added Zombo.

Zombo came to CMU from Sterling Heights Stevenson High School and currently ranks fourth all-time on CMU's career sacks list with 19.

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