Friday, August 30, 2013

Looking back at last night's season opener, and a thank you to the fans

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

After last night's win, I didn't immediately come back and start watching film because I had a house full of people who were in town for the game.

But I was still racing through my mind with things that we have to do to get better, analyzing everything. That's what we all do as coaches. It's always thinking about how can we get better.

I was back in the office at about 7:30 a.m. today and started watching the tape.

The crazy thing is that games are never as bad as you think or as good as you think when you sit down and watch the film. The biggest thing for me about last night was the 12 penalties. You can't have that. You are not going to win too many games with 12 penalties. Those are the things we have to eliminate.

The penalties come down to a fundamental and a technique here and there. They come down to discipline. We have to become a more disciplined football team.

It's not about effort. It's not a lack of effort. It's a lack of doing right. We have to right.

There were also a lot of things I liked. Up front on defense, I thought we played well. I expected that from those guys, and they met those expectations.

You look at the first drive of the game. With a lot of new guys out there for the first time, we put together a pretty good scoring drive. That was a positive. 

There is some stuff that we can build on, but there is more stuff that we have to improve. That's not necessarily bad. Sometimes it isn't a good thing when you come out of a game feeling too good about yourself.

I'm not too worried, except for the penalties. Those are the things you can't have.

What we need to continue to have is the support from the fans like we had last night. That crowd was awesome, and the students in particular were loud and into the game. 

I sent out a tweet today thanking the students for their support. To have a record student crowd of 7,000 last night was very exciting. And we need them to keep coming back. 

We need them more than ever next week when we play Bowling Green because we are going to be gone for three straight weeks after that.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Brian George on the defense, the linebacker spot, and the return to health of Roosevelt Nix

By Brian George
Defensive Coordinator

The biggest positive from camp is that we have had a concerted effort as a group to improve and to learn every day that we have been out here.

When you do that, you have a chance. That's the biggest positive.

On the negative side, we still have a little way to go in a lot of different areas. After figuring out who are best 11 are, we now have to develop some guys and have them get themselves ready to be able to play in football games this fall. There is still a lot of development ahead as we get ready for the season.

We've had a lot of guys improve. I don't want to get into names right now, but there are a lot of players who have made tremendous strides since last year. There are also a lot of guys who need to keep going. In camp, we kept telling guys that they need to always be thinking 'I have to keep driving to get better.' They are getting better at that.

The linebacker spot is getting better every day. We want that group to compete and compete, and keep competing. They competed in camp. We want them to keep competing right up through the first game on Aug. 29. And after that game, we will reevaluate and they'll continue to compete.

We believe we have five linebackers who are truly competing to play. That's a good thing. There aren't a lot of them who have a great deal of experience. We'll see from week to week who those guys are. I don't know that it will ever be just the starting two. 

Getting Roosevelt Nix back healthy is a very good thing. I also think now that he is healthy, having a healthy attitude to work is going to make him and all of us better every day. He said it the other day. It has to start with me. He said, "once I am able to do what I'm capable of doing every day in practice on a daily basis, then that can be contagious." We are seeing that happen. You can't have the type of attitude he has been showing if you are not healthy.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The wait for the first depth chart

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

We have our first depth chart. I know some of our guys have been wondering and worrying about where they stand since Saturday's scrimmage.

That's hard, and sometimes as a player you don't understand when that depth chart comes out.

It wasn't easy for me when I was in college here at Kent State.

I remember after starting my entire freshman year, I came in as a sophomore with a new coach, and all of a sudden I found myself on the second team.

Of course, I called my parents. I started to complain to my dad and he hung up on me. He told me to work harder, and he hung up the phone. Well, I didn't have any other options, so that's what I did. I went back to work. 

That's what our players today need to understand. Unfortunately, we live in a "now" society. Everybody wants everything now. A lot of people don't understand the meaning of hard work. They don't understand that there is a process and they just want everybody to give them what they want now.

We want our players to understand that we don't set the depth chart. They do.

We analyze every little thing to set the depth chart. It's not just a guy making a play here and a play there, and then doing 10 other things wrong.

We had all of the coaches meet with the players last night just to tell them where they are with regard to this first depth chart. But that status only applies to Monday, Aug. 19. We still have a long way to go until we play, so if they want to change it, show us. The depth chart isn't set until Thursday Aug. 29.

I also tell all of our guys not to say anything about playing offense or defense unless they are on the special units. They need to understand that first and foremost.

Sweating things like this is nerve racking, but it's part of the job. It's a part of their position. It's part of what they signed up for when they decided to play college football.

Friday, August 16, 2013

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

I am looking forward to Saturday's scrimmage.

Really, the depth is going to be set afterwards, and our guys have to understand we don't set it. They set it.

There will be a lot of decisions made after the scrimmage, and that means guys have to perform. Every day is gameday out here, but that will be even more the case on Saturday. It will be full go with tackling.

It's going to be fun. It's going to be exciting, and we'll see who really shines.

We'll do a lot of situations during the scrimmage. We'll play good vs. good. Ones vs. ones. Twos vs. twos. Threes vs. threes.

We are finding a lot depth. We are starting to get comfortable at every position, and we are actually starting to create more depth. This week and Saturday will solidify spots for guys, so we'll sit down on Saturday and tell them where they are. Then we will move on from there.

We are also finding that a lot of freshman are going to play for us this season. Everyone always asks who you think can play out of the new guys, but you never know until they get here. Now we are starting to know. Some of them could be special teams players for us. Some of them could be playing or even starting.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Running the football with pride

By Brian Rock
Offensive Coordinator

Our guys are taking pride in running the football.

At this point of camp, we are certainly not a finished product. We do have a long way to go. But the message that we are sending that it is important to be able to run the football is getting through to our guys. They are taking pride in that, and I mean from offensive linemen to tight ends, to running backs, to quarterbacks, to blocking on the outside with our wide receivers.

We are starting to understand the message across the board. I like that.

There are some things we need to shore up, however, in the passing game. I think that reps and experience wills tart to help that.

We are relatively inexperienced on the offensive line. Everywhere else, with the exception of quarterback, we have some experience. And because of that, we have some things we have to shore up in terms of overall efficiency. Really what it comes down to is that we are pretty sure we are going to be able to run the football. Our guys have to develop that same confidence and that same attitude that when we need to throw it, we will do it with a high percentage of efficiency.

To me, that efficiency is more of a confidence issue of this is what we are going to do, now let's go do it.

Last year we were pretty confident that we had seven or eight players on the offensive line who were ready if called upon on game day. We are not there yet, but we are getting there. I think by the time game one rolls around we will have at least seven and maybe eight.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Taking a swing at "the Rock"

EDITOR's NOTE: As this blog post is being published, a select group of Kent State players are taking swings with a sledge hammer at a giant rock between Dix Stadium and the Field House. It's just one of the motivational tools employed by strength and conditioning coach Antoine Sharp. We asked him to come on the blog and write about the Rock and what it represents. After hammering away all summer long, Sharp said he hoped today would be the day the Rock finally breaks in half.

Strength and Conditioning Coach

The theory behind the rock is that it represents the Mid-American Conference. Throughout  the summer, at the end of each week I would choose guys who gave the best effort, whether it be in conditioning or in weightlifting, and I would give them a chance to take a swing at the MAC with a sledge hammer. 

We want them to learn that it takes that kind of intensity to win the MAC. We always need to try to find ways to keep things fresh for these guys. We have to find different motivation because we ask so much from them.

You could tell it meant something to the guys. Those who didn't get a chance to take a swing at the MAC, their work ethic improved. They've raised the bar every day, and this is  

The rock is new. It was not out there next to Dix Stadium before this year. One of my guys found a place that had huge landscaping rocks, and they brought it here.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

First day in pads

Today was our first practice in full pads.

I saw some of the same things that I saw in the first few days of practice. Our energy is good at the beginning of practices, but we still have to have to learn how to finish. And then, the first time we go live, we stop paying attention to detail and lose all fundamentals and technique.

Right now we are not a very fundamentally sound football team. Fundamentals are the things that will win or lose a championship for us. We have a long way to go before our guys understand what it takes to win championships and not just get through practice.

I'll know they are starting to understand when go through these same periods in practice and our guys are not putting the ball on the ground, when they are not missing tackles. I know a lot of guys are still trying to learn the system. But we'll make the system as simple as possible if we can get guys playing with great fundamentals.

I know our fans are wondering about the offensive line and the linebackers because we had some holes to fill there. So far I think the offensive line is doing well. We are preaching toughness. They are getting there. We are working to develop depth there.

With the linebacker position, we have three older guys back and that group is looking better. We have to develop depth, though, to determine which five or six guys will travel. 

We have brought in some help from junior college. Jim Katusha is doing a good job on the offensive line, and Jake Houts is giving us some depth at linebacker. But those guys are swimming a little bit right now. They are like freshmen with the system. They'll learn it, though. What I'm worried about with them and with everyone else is learning the fundamentals.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Paul Haynes and Brian Rock on the first day of camp

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

We just finished our first practice of camp. I thought it was a good day.

I liked our tempo and I thought we saw a lot of good things for the first day. There were still a lot kinks that we'll get ironed out. But we came out here with a lot of energy. That's what we look for as coaches. Our guys were excited to get back out here and they will continue to get better every day.

These first couple of days are all about putting in the system. We'll put in our concepts and continue to talk to them about the type of tempo we want.

After these first three or four days we will start to get into situations.

I'll be back on here regularly to update our work in camp. We'll also have some of our coaches and players on to write, so check back regularly.

By Brian Rock
Offensive Coordinator

We had a lot of guys who were obviously very excited to be out here on the first day of practice.

It wasn't a well-oiled machine by any means. We still have a lot of work to do, but we have a lot of building clocks to build from. That's the part that has me very excited.

I saw a lot of the older, veteran guys who understand how we practice and the tempo we expect for practice go and reach out to the younger guys to explain what that's all about. That's always encouraging.

It's day one, and on day one everyone is always excited. They are tired of talking and doing all of those kinds of things. It was fun to be out here and be together again.