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.

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