"To me, to be a successful defense," Haynes said Thursday at a golf outing in Fayetteville, "you have to be able to t tackle. When you look at it, most of the time big plays happen is because of a missed tackle or two. We will focus a lot on tackling and we need to stop the run.
"In any defense, those two things you have to do to be successful and those are two things we will look at and work on."
There aren't any worries that the new terminology that Haynes introduced in the spring will slow the Hogs when they hit the practice field Wednesday. Haynes used old phrases and play calls when he coached the Cotton Bowl. But he put in the language for the calls that he used at Ohio State over the winter and in for spring drills.
"Going into spring, the big thing was our guys learning new terminology," Haynes said. "That's not an issue and I feel like they're comfortable with the terminology and how we call things. The depth at linebacker is a work in progress."
The Hogs went with Tenarius "Tank" Wright at middle linebacker in the spring. The fifth-year senior was a returning starter at defensive end. Haynes said the experiment stuck.
However, Haynes didn't get to see returning starter Alonzo Highsmith in the spring. Highsmith started all 13 games last year after transferring from junior college. He will line up at will linebacker in the fall after successful rehab from a partial tear of the pectoral tendon. Haynes said Highsmith is 100 percent.
"With Alonzo out in the spring, I know he played for us a lot last year, but he still needs a lot more reps," Haynes said. "This fall camp will be important for him to make sure he gets back in the grove of things. It was good for him to sit out and get mental reps with Coach (Taver) Johnson. Our safety depth. Developing a couple of guys with Ross Rasner being our star, some of those backup guys need to step up."
Haynes is also excited to get a look at Kiero Small at fullback in fall camp. Incoming freshman Otha Peters has impressed with physical strength and skills in summer workouts and will get an early look, too. Both will get work at inside linebacker where depth is thin.
"(We want him there) as much as possible," Haynes said of taking Small from the offense. "We'll kind of work that out and talk about that, but as Coach (John L. ) Smith has said, he's too good a football player to be on the sideline. When he's not working with the offense, he'll be with us and look at what are the best ways and smartest ways to get him in there.
"He's excited to do it and he's a leader on this football team. That's the great thing about him. Coaches can't watch summer workouts, but they can get feedback from the veteran players and the strength staff.
"The feedback that we're getting is that he's doing a good job," Haynes said of Peters. "Once they get out there and get thrown in the fire, we'll be able to tell more. The exciting thing is that he has all the tools, which is what you want, but now let's see him get out there and do it.
"Time will tell on that, but we're excited about it. He's always trying to come in and watch film and that's what you want out of those guys. Once we throw him out in the fire we'll find out if he can think on the run, do those things, you know. Will Peters line up on the inside or on the outside with the linebackers.
"He'll be an inside backer, Mike or Will, for sure," Haynes said.
Concerning Highsmith's spring, Haynes said there may not have been physical work, but there was mental work and film study.
"The best thing Alonzo did," Haynes said, "when he was hurt and even this summer, was he studied the game. You always see him watching film.
"The thing that he's watching, is that he has picked out some linebackers, great linebackers from the past and studying their movements, how they tackle and all of that.
"He's studying the best because he wants to be the best.
"From what I hear about his dad, he was an aggressive guy that didn't shy away from hitting, which is important at linebacker. Just like we have coaches' kids that are always around football, I think he's the type of kid that is always around football."
Haynes likes the outlook for the fall. He sees players ready to dive into workouts. There are positive vibes in the Ozarks from his perspective.
"The thing I'm most excited about is that our kdis are excited," Haynes said. "The spring was good as far as learning the terminology and they've had a great summer as well. They've stepped up in terms of leadership and everything.