Imagine Paul Haynes’ interview with Bobby Petrino and the moment it was.
“Paul, how are you? It’s been a while.”
“Good to see you, Coach. It hasn’t seemed that long to me. I still wake up worrying about whether I’ve got to prepare for Williams, Wright, Adams, and Mallet.”
“Well, you guys won the game. I wanted to ask you…”
Having known one another for sometime, the pleasantries were arranging the meeting and then they began reliving play after play of the 2011 Sugar Bowl. The conversation moved to the “what ifs” and “what would you have dones,” and they repeatedly covered the grease board in the conference room where they met with layer after layer of X’s and O’s and routes and responsibilities. Two hours later both men have only fleeting regrets that they really haven’t discussed the Arkansas DC position.
What’s not imagined is that the Arkansas Democrat Gazette report on the interview said that it last three or four hours and that many football details were discussed. For Petrino, this was HIS opponent, i.e. the guy in charge of the secondary covering his receivers and reading his quarterback in the 2011 Sugar Bowl. Haynes was his mirror adversary and was in position to talk freely without revealing his current employer’s game tactics. Any number of things could happen before the deal was done and regardless of whether Bobby Petrino hired Paul Haynes, the moment was an invaluable, rare opportunity for Bobby Petrino to be critiqued or affirmed from an opposing coach. The meeting was classic “brain pickin’” time. From Haynes’ side, every question he answered well was one more building block toward a good rapport.
You’ve likely seen the University of Arkansas’ extensive press release upon Haynes’ hire. If not, Paul Haynes Locks Down Arkansas DC Position is the U of A’s press release with some evident modifications. Someone on the Hill decided to put a nice blog post together with the hiring announcement as it explained thoroughly Haynes’ movements and connections with Coach Petrino and some departing Arkansas staff. But another level of who, what, when, where and why about Paul Haynes is not as easily assembled.
Absent a long, well-planned interview with our new defensive coordinator, digging into news articles covering the last four seasons appears to be the only way of acquiring insight into Paul Haynes as a coach. Direct quotes from Paul Haynes or information directly about Haynes were key for the main articles. As an assistant coach under Luke Fickell, who was the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator before being elevated to head coach when Jim Tressell vacated his post, Haynes had control of the safeties and not primary responsibility for the whole defense. While Ohio State’s defensive numbers were great and Haynes was certainly a part of the coaching team, a variety of issues arose when Haynes did have control of the Buckeyes’ defense in 2011. However,the purposes here are not to give credit or lay blame for OSU’s success or failures and to attribute either to Haynes.
Summarizing four or five Ohio State seasons with an eye toward critical successes or failures as compared to coaching responsibilities is far more information than any of us want. Even if we had the analysis, it’s no guarantee of Haynes’ future performance at Arkansas. The purposes are to document what Paul Haynes thinks and what he values or how he sees different aspects of the game. Just as important, the chronicles of Ohio State football, no matter how unseemly they may be to an average Arkansas Fan, give us insight into the situations and obstacles Haynes has faced as an assistant coach and as one with some control – before being considered as Arkansas’ defensive coordinator.
On evaluating a player’s assets and skills…
At 6-foot-2 and nearly 220 pounds, safeties coach Paul Haynes sees linebacker size and safety speed in Hines, an combination that makes recruiters drool.
“His football instincts are incredible,” Haynes said. “You sit there and you’re like, that’s exactly what I wanted him to do. He does it without you telling him.”
“Maybe since Donte Whitner, that’s something we’ve missed on those screens,” Haynes said. “After a while, you could see that receiver kind of started turning those down, because Jermale was coming after him.”
Haynes made it clear that Hines has a long way to go to reach the level of Whitner, a ridiculous film rat who knew the game like a coach. But you can see that initial spark that resides in playmakers.
Haynes as a person of continuity in a coaching staff…
On a nine-man staff, the OSU coaches have been full-time OSU assistants for a total of 53 years, while USC’s coaches have been in place for 37.
“I think if you can keep your staff together, that continuity is key to being efficient in everything you do,” Tressel said. “Sometimes if you have new position coaches year after year, you’re just getting to know one another and that slows your growth. Obviously sometimes you hear people say that a staff has been together so long, they’re comfortable, and I’m sure that can happen. But I have a lot of confidence in these guys that they have passion, and you can just tell if someone’s coasting, and we don’t have any coasters.”
Since Snyder departed to become Marshall’s head coach and Mel Tucker left to join the Browns, with Tim Beckman and Paul Haynes replacing them for 2005, the Buckeyes have made just two moves in the last four seasons. Taver Johnson replaced Beckman, now the Toledo head coach, when he left after the 2006 season for Oklahoma State. And Nick Siciliano, previously the offensive quality control coach, which isn’t a full-level assistant spot, took over the quarterbacks for Joe Daniels after filling in while Daniels dealt with a cancer diagnosis.
Haynes on losing a key player and reloading in the season…
Anderson Russell took Coleman’s spot in the lineup next to safety Jarmale Hines, and Orhian Johnson took Russell’s role as the fifth defensive back in the nickel defense. But Coleman was missed.
“It’s not about losing a player; it’s more losing a leader, losing a guy out there who was kind of your quarterback,” safeties coach Paul Haynes said in the days leading up to the game. “But that’s what you practice for, what preseason camp is for, what spring is for. Hopefully, you get guys in different positions to fill that roll.”
On a secondary against a physical, run-oriented attack spiced up with the play-action pass…
Can the Hurricanes hit big plays with play action?
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said Tuesday the Hurricanes do not do a lot of different things on offense. They just do a few things well.
Asked if Miami used a vanilla attack while thrashing Florida A&M 45-0 in its season opener, Ohio State safeties coach Paul Haynes shook his head then he echoed Tressel’s message that what the Hurricanes do is not fancy, though it can be quite effective.
“These guys want to run the ball. They are a physical offense,” Haynes said. “They have a physical offensive line and a stable of running backs. It sets you back a little bit because they run the ball, run the ball then try to hit you with the play action deep ball. So we’ve got to have great eye control and make sure our guys are doing the things they’re supposed to do, both run and pass.”
Injuries and teaching positions…
OF SECONDARY CONCERN: Safeties coach Paul Haynes said the Buckeyes are scrambling a little to fill spots in the defensive backfield, particularly since Tyler Moeller (torn chest muscle) and Bryant, both of whom play the nickel back or “star” position, are sidelined.
He said Jermale Hines will move from safety to star and that DB Aaron Gant would shift to safety.
“Just because that’s what Jermale has done for us,” Haynes said. “That star position is so important for us. To try to teach someone that spot, it’s a little bit easier to teach him safety and give him reps at safety than it is at star.”
On the all-too-familiar slow team starts in games…backing up Tressell’s thoughts…
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The story last Saturday was what happened at halftime against Penn State. Coach Jim Tressel got mad, the Buckeyes got better. The subplot was why an Ohio State team filled with seniors and veteran juniors chasing a record-tying sixth Big Ten title — rested from a bye week and at home against a rival — needed to be rattled back to life.
How can they work on it? Talk about it. Haynes said It’s been emphasized to the players in every practice. Tressel said it’s not really something that a “team” can solve.
“It’s all got to be done individually.” Tressel said. “I don’t know if it’s anything collectively you could do as a group. I’ve got to take the responsibility of having myself ready to do whatever it is that needs to be done against some very, very good people. And [I need to] bring along with it the emotion that needs to be there, because if you don’t have that, it’s not going to happen.”
On letting players lead…
“Jermale is the kind of guy that whether you want his help or not, he’s giving it, you know what I mean?” Tressel said. “Because he wants a good team, and he doesn’t care how young you are, he expects you to be in the right place. Jermale’s a good football player. Jermale’s a good leader, there’s no question.”
At times this season, that leadership has included guiding freshman Bryant, a fellow Glenville grad, through his star experience.
“He’s a coach on the field,” safeties coach Paul said. Sometimes he’s a life coach, too.
“I feel like when I came to college, it was a big culture shock and I didn’t have people on me all the time, telling me don’t do this, don’t do that,” Hines said. “So when I tell [young players] things, sometimes they still do what they want, but in the end hopefully they’ll realize that I just want what’s best for them. I feel like I owe them that. I still drill it into their heads, no matter what they say, whether they agree with me or not.”
“When he does talk, people are sitting up in their chairs and they’re listening,” Haynes said, “so he’s very good in our [meeting] room because when he tells someone to do something, they’re going to do it. They respect him that much.”
Preparation and that sense for the game allows Hines to anticipate the next play on the field. Hines believes he has the same instincts off the field, the ability to sniff out what’s about to happen.
“I feel like I read people really well,” Hines said.
On Haynes’ promotion to co-defensive coordinator…
“Paul Haynes is an exceptional coach who has worked extremely hard for this football program,” Fickell said. “He deserves to take on a greater role with our defense alongside coordinator Jim Heacock.
“And I felt it was important to get Doc [Tressel] more involved in all aspects of our special teams. He has so much experience, and he brings so much knowledge to the field every day, that I really wanted him to be responsible for coordinating our special teams efforts.”
Haynes, who grew up in Columbus and graduated from DeSales, is in his 16th coaching season, including one year as a quality control coach with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. The 2011 season is his seventh at Ohio State. He has coached on the defensive side of the ball during all 14 of his collegiate seasons. He was assistant head coach and secondary coach at his alma mater – Kent State – in 1999 and 2000.
“I am honored that Luke has put me into this position,” Haynes said. “It really shows the trust he has in me. We’ve done so much together as a defensive staff and we work well together as a staff. I don’t see anything changing in that regard, and with Coach Vrabel joining our staff, I’m really looking forward to the start of this season.”
More on the value of the film room…
BARNETT LOOKS SOLID, READY TO EMERGE … Last season as a red-shirt freshman, C.J. Barnett surprised many by earning the starting job at strong safety. He looked fantastic in the Buckeyes’ first two games of the season against Marshall and Miami, Fla., flying around the field and laying the wood to the opposition.
However, during the prime-time tilt against Miami in week two, Barnett suffered an injury to his right knee forcing him to have season-ending surgery.
Barnett doesn’t appear to be suffering any ill-effects during the first week of camp. In fact, he’s playing at a higher level than a year ago, anticipating what the offense is going to do and making plays. He’s already recorded one interception (on Graham) for a touchdown in practice.
Co-defensive coordinator Paul Haynes attributes Barnett’s progress to his work in the film room.
“He’s a student of the game,” Haynes said of Barnett. “C.J. had a great role model in Kurt Coleman, you know, being from the same high school. Kurt was that way, so it’s easy for him to sit there and do all those things.
“Two of the best guys I’ve ever had here was Kurt and Donte Whitner as far as being students of the game, making sure that you take notes instead of just going in and watching film. That’s what (Barnett) did, he started seeing the importance of it … Now, we’ve got to turn the page and make sure he becomes a play-maker and is productive.”
So far, so good.
Missed tackles while defensive coordinator and moving on…
GRABBING AIR: Safeties coach Paul Haynes said after Wednesday’s practice that the Buckeyes missed 27 tackles in the loss to Miami.
“That drives you real crazy,” he said. “As a coach, you go back to the drawing board. After you lose a game, you have to go back to fundamentals. You play a talented team, there’s no way that can happen.”
To put the stat into perspective, Haynes said 27 missed tackles is a lot, “by far.”
The coaching staff is pleased with the way the Buckeyes have tried to forget about the disappointing loss to the Hurricanes.
“Our guys are ready to go,” he said. “Every time after a loss you sit back and reflect. We said that it’s time to move on. They were ready to go on Sunday afternoon.
More on missed tackles and giving up big plays…
COLUMBUS, Ohio — On a good week, the Ohio State defense should miss fewer than 10 tackles in a game. Junior defensive lineman John Simon said he can remember being part of a week when only seven tackles were missed.
Saturday against Miami wasn’t a good week. According to Ohio State’s tally, the Buckeyes missed 27 tackles – what co-defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said was “by far” the most missed tackles he has seen in his seven seasons with the Buckeyes.
After a recent history of winning Big Ten titles with one of the better defenses in the country, can the Buckeyes (2-1) lean on their defense again while sorting out their quarterback and playmaker issues and coming off a 24-6 loss to the Hurricanes?
“There’s no doubt,” Haynes said Wednesday. “There’s no doubt we are talented enough and good enough to make that happen.”
The biggest problem, mentioned by head coach Luke Fickell in the immediate aftermath of the loss Saturday night — and by Haynes again Wednesday — is giving up big plays. Some small and medium plays have turned into much bigger gains because of missed tackles, which were aggravating coaches even after the win against Toledo.
“Make people earn it,” Haynes said. “We may give up 10 [yards], we may give up 15, but we can’t give up 50.”
Those big plays are the things that are going to eat us alive,” Fickell said.
Miami back Lamar Miller’s 54-yard run on the Hurricanes’ first offensive play illustrated the problem. The Miami offensive line blew open a hole, linebackers Storm Klein and Andrew Sweat couldn’t get off their blocks, and then linebacker Etienne Sabino and safeties Orhian Johnson and C.J. Barnett all whiffed on Miller, basically taking one another out of the play in a three-way, missed-tackle collision. Both Simon and Sweat have talked about a miscommunication on the play, with Simon indicating some part of the defense didn’t hear an adjustment. But Haynes didn’t buy that.
“No, no, they creased us, and we missed the tackle,” Haynes said. “We make that tackle, it’s a gain of 8, or a gain of 12. We’ve got to get him down and tackle him. We had two guys there, and they didn’t get it done.”
Fixing that while preparing for Colorado on Saturday is the task this week, as all the Buckeyes have talked about getting back to fundamentals. Asked about how defensive coordinator Jim Heacock was handling the players, defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins said, “He was on us, bro — a lot.”
It’s about taking better angles and squaring up to ball carriers. Simon indicated that the Buckeyes would work more in practice on wrapping up ball carriers during their live sessions.
“When we’ve got a guy in position, we need to make sure we’re wrapping up and bringing the running back down,” Simon said.
While Haynes praised the energy of the OSU defenders, he said a culprit Saturday night may have been trying too hard. The Silver Bullets, as the defenders call themselves, were flying around so much that they flew right past the play.
“You get a lot of guys who are trying to do something, especially when you get down early,” Haynes said. “We’ve got to stay poised and do what we do.
“It’s not for a lack of effort. It’s almost to the point where you’re over trying. It goes back to the little things of football — bending your knees and stepping to contact and the little things.”
If they don’t do the little things, the Buckeyes have seen it will lead to big things for the opposition. It has happened for two straight weeks, and if the Buckeyes want to be the type of defense they have been in recent seasons, the missed tackles can’t continue for much longer.
“That drives you real crazy as a coach,” Haynes said. “When you have so many missed tackles when you play a talented team, there’s no way that can happen.”
By comparison, just prior to the 2011 Sugar Bowl, “Ohio State’s defense has given up only 31 plays of 20 yards or more, only two of 40 yards or more, and has not allowed a gain of 50 yards or more all season. Naveau column: A big stage and a big opportunity, LimaSports.com, January 3, 2011.
On tradition and developing tradition…
Silver Bullets is not as ubiquitous as the Blackshirts, the name that everyone in Nebraska calls the Cornhuskers’ defense, a moniker that dates back to 1964. But Silver Bullets is the name the OSU players and coaches use with one another, with “The Silver Bullet Defense” at the top of the preseason blueprint that the seniors draw up.
“We always identify ourselves as the Silver Bullets,” OSU co-defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said. “That’s the tradition, the pride, the dedication, and there’s something to being that. So you can always talk about what it really means, just like the Blackshirts.”
It’s not really about the name, per se. It’s about that idea, the defensive thing that can happen within a team, a tradition that can grow even within the confines of outsized football traditions at Ohio State and Nebraska. The name follows the dominance. Talk Nebraska football, and Blackshirts,the name that grew out of the practice jerseys the defense started wearing after a coach bought them at a good price, is tossed around nearly as much as Cornhuskers.
Haynes handling a pre-game press conference…
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes will play in Ohio Stadium for the final time this season as they host Penn State on Senior Day Saturday.
There will be a lot of emotion in the stadium, which include a display of sportsmanship before kickoff. Both teams will shake hands at midfield prior to the coin toss.
Ohio State safeties coach Paul Haynes and tight ends coach John Peterson met with the media after practice Wednesday to talk about that and more.
• Haynes said defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins will be ready to play Saturday against Penn State. Haynes wouldn’t provide more details but said he would be ready.
• Haynes said Hankins means a lot to the defense. It effects everything when you have two guys dominating up front like Hankins and Simon.
• LB Andrew Sweat won’t play against Penn State. Freshman LB Ryan Shazier will start in his place. Haynes said Shazier needs to add some bulk but he is a playmaker.
• Peterson said right tackle J.B. Shugarts has practiced all week but stopped short of saying he will play Saturday against Penn State.
• Haynes said the miscommunication on 3rd-and-12 in overtime at Purdue was pre-snap.
• Haynes said it’s discouraging to hear about those type of miscommunications at this point in the season, especially because they preach about it all the time.
• Haynes said being young is no longer an excuse. These guys are talented enough and smart enough right now. Said they don’t have time to make those mistakes. The time to play is now and they have to be ready.
• Haynes said guys are staring at the QB when he scrambles instead of sticking to their assignments.
• Haynes said he doesn’t allow himself to think about the future and what guys like Bryant and Barnett might look like.
• Haynes said DeVier Posey’s return should force teams to back safeties out of the box.
• Haynes said it wasn’t hard to motivate the team after the loss at Purdue. Said playing Penn State is motivation enough.
• Haynes said Penn State’s WR’s are big and fast. Said getting Derek Moye isn’t that big because their other guys are talented too.
Throwing young players into starting roles…
Unfortunately for Ohio State, this isn’t the long run. This is now. For instance, a pre-snap miscommunication involving sophomore safeties Bryant and C.J. Barnett helped Purdue convert the third-and-12 pass in overtime that set up the game-winning touchdown.
“Those guys are talented enough to get it done, they’re smart enough to get it done right now,” Haynes said. “Will they be very, very good down the road? Yes, they will. … The problem is they don’t have time to make those mistakes right now. They’ve got to make sure they’re confident.”
Paul Haynes isn’t perfection, but none of us are, are we? He is encouraging as a defensive hire coming from a coaching team of a winning program. Repeatedly Haynes emphasizes the mental aspect of football which must be right on track with Bobby Petrino’s approach to football. Haynes hails those who are constantly watching film, or who know the game as well as the coach, or who are like coaches or quarterbacks on the field. But not every new recruit is a coaches’ son who’ s lived with X’s and O’s away from practice which is why Haynes’ references to teaching positions are welcome. He walks into the job realizing that he deals with players who need to learn and is cognizant of how easy or hard it is to learn positions. He appreciates the details of technique and in recruits, he looks for players who are taller, play longer, and are faster than those they are following.
Separate from coaching itself, numerous searches were done in various ways to gather whether there was any suggestion that Paul Haynes has any exposure with the NCAA or to a lesser degree, whether there were any suggestions that he engaged in practices which were not according to the rules. Being thorough doesn’t prove a negative proposition; nonetheless, nothing suggested or hinted that Haynes may be tainted other than being at Ohio State. To express it directly, no article could be found which hints at any Haynes wrongdoing.
Despite Haynes’ appreciation for detail and for players who are students of the game, when he had the helm, frustrating missed tackles plagued Ohio State just as they have with Arkansas. The solution was to return to the fundamentals. Hopefully, it was an experience where he decides to emphasize the fundamentals more than particular nuances of the game plan. Game plans can be changed and made more simple or complex, but fundamentals are musts for sound squads. Allowing long plays likely went hand-in-hand with poor tackling, but knowing that it has been an issue is a concern. However, tons of issues may have gone into the situation, not the least of which were off-field distractions and that there was a coaching change right before the season began. Slow starts were part of his experience as well. Maybe Haynes brings in solutions from that experience.
As surely as Bobby Petrino can evaluate player potential, as fans we have to believe that he can evaluate coaching talent as well. Petrino has brought Arkansas from the depths to a Top 10 program with an opportunity to be in the National Championship Game, and more personally, Bobby Petrino’s own goal to win a National Championship is near. More than anyone, Petrino knows that his best seasons at Louisville were ones where his defenses were well-ranked and in the SEC, he must have a top defense if he ever hopes to achieve his goals. This time Petrino’s hiring decision was not made with the first spring practice looming only weeks away nor was his decision made without the clarity of four years of SEC coaching experience under his belt. Aside from his goals for Arkansas and for him personally, in terms of football knowledge, few best Bobby Petrino and his decision was Paul Haynes. For that reason alone, maybe we should look no further and just believe, which has worked well. Welcome aboard Paul Haynes! Go Hogs!!