Monday, March 31, 2014

Thoughts heading into tomorrow's first day of spring football

By Paul Haynes
Head Coach

As coaches, we will be focused on identifying our playmakers during spring practice.

We have a big push on competition. We want to find out who are the most competitive kids. 

We also want to build team chemistry. I told the guys that April is “Get To Know Your Teammate Month” for us. I expect them to do that. The only way we are going to become a championship team is if we truly care about each other. And the only way to truly grow to care about each other is if you spend the time. You have to spend the time with people you don’t know. We can all spend time within our own little clicks. 

I’m going to ask guys to tell me about their teammates. When I call on someone, he should be able to tell me something about another player. That’s part of building team chemistry. 

We need to decide, "What are we about?" "Who are we about?"

Every position is truly wide open and the guys who will be our starters are the guys who are going to earn it. We’ve started a thing where we ask our guys. I’ll ask Colin Reardon, “who is the starting quarterback?” And he will answer, “whoever earns it.”

There are going to be a lot of different guys moving around, working with the first group, the second group and the third group. We are going to give everybody an opportunity to play this spring.

We are also going to spend time figuring out what our brand is.

To me, a brand is this – when you say Kent State Offense, what do you think about? When you say "Kent State Defense", what do you think about? When you say Kent State Special Teams, what do you think about? 

It is about an identity. We have names we call ourselves, but if that name doesn’t take on a life of its own, then its because it didn’t mean anything. It was just a name.

I spent all of last week on spring break down at Florida State and I visited with some of their older players. They talked about how there is a certain way they play football down there or you are not going to play. They know who they are and what they are about. So now, who are we? What are we about? When people think of us, what are they saying?

I don’t like to talk a lot about the places I’ve been, but when I was at Ohio State, the “Silver Bullets” meant something. It was darned near alive. It carried with it a standard for how you play.

We have to get to that point where our guys taking pride in something that is becoming the brand.

In Cleveland, you’ve had the “Dawg Pound”, in Minnesota they had the “Purple People Eaters”, in Pittsburgh “the Steel Curtain.” When that stuff starts to come alive, you start taking pride in everything you do.

At Ohio State we had a guy named Nate Ebner. He plays for the Patriots now. He never took a snap for us at safety, but he took pride in every special unit and everybody gravitated around him. When that happened, our special teams started to come alive. That is what you need to have. Until you do, guys are just out there. They are just running plays and being compliant instead of being committed.

Offense will answer questions while building on momentum during the spring season

By Brian Rock
Offensive Coordinator

We need to answer some questions this spring.

We’ve had a great offseason and we need to make sure that we are continuing that momentum into actually being on the field and playing football. But we also need to label who are guys are going to be, especially at the offensive line and wide receiver positions. Those are some questions that need to be answered.

I am also looking forward to finding out what our depth is going to be like at running back. 

We have to find ways to make sure we get our 11 best on the field.

Philosophically, we will be working on our base offense. We are not experimenting and doing a bunch of different things. We are trying to get better at alignment assignment and technique and the base runs and passing concepts we have in our offense.

Our offensive line guys have a lot of experience under their belts. Guys like Reno Reda and Wayne Scott are a year older and a year better. Anthony Pruitt has come a long way. I’m excited to see those guys now that they have a year under their belts and to see what they can bring to the table.

We have to establish some wide receivers during this spring. Will Woods has had a great offseason. I’m anxious to see Ernest Calhoun and Josh Boyle take another step. Chris Humphrey is an established guy who has played a lot of football for us, but who will be the rest of that crew? That’s what we have to find out.

At running back, Trayion Durham is getting over an injury. Anthony Meray has played a lot for us in the last couple of years and he’ll be back again. He has some class conflicts this spring, and with Trayion getting healthy we have moved Nick Holley to running back. Nick and Tristin Boykin are going to get a workout this spring. 

I like the idea of Nick at running back in that he brings some toughness to the table. I like his work ethic. Nick has also had the football in his hands before. We’ve never had him at running back before, though, so we need to find out about what he can bring to that position. He can block and be tough to tackle, but also have some speed and elusiveness to create some big plays. 

We can be very good at tight end with Casey Pierce and Kyle Payton, who has had a very good offseason. The young guys there are coming along with Ryan Malone and Brice Fackler. And then the transfer from Ashland, Steve Nagy, we’ll see where he fits in. We have a pretty good nucleus of guys there. 

Our biggest thing is coming together as a unit. We need to get 11 guys all going in the same direction.all. 

TOMORROW: Defensive coordinator Brian George looks at the goals for spring practice