Q & A with Coach Haggins & Kendrick Stewart

Defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins is working with one of the youngest groups of his career. But, just like the past, he expects someone to step up and fill the hole left by the departure of Brodrick Bunkley. Also included is a Q&A with DT Kendrick Stewart.

Defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins has a difficult task ahead of him this spring. He has to fill the position left open by standout Brodrick Bunkley. But Haggins has been in this situation before and like all the other times, he?s confident someone will step up.

The difference this year is that this is one of the youngest groups Haggins has ever coached. He doesn't have any players with significant experience at guard and just one, Andre Fluellen, who has logged minutes at tackle.

"What I've got to do is work them," said Haggins. "Make sure that they learn A to B, not A to C. Step-by-step through the fundamentals."

Haggins also has to teach the defensive schemes to the new linemen, which are mostly still underclassmen. He can't become too one dimensional in his instruction, leaning more heavily on either technique or the play book.

"You have so much thinking that they are thinking about what they have to do and they forget about the technique, so that's why I have to keep pushing," said Haggins.

Some of Haggins players have been out of practice since spring football began, including Emmanuel Dunbar and Letroy Guion.

For now, Kendrick Stewart mans the front line next to Andre Fluellen. Haggins said he's been impressed with Stewart's discipline.

Redshirt freshmen DT Kendrick Stewart

Q: You're working with the first-string. Did you know that you get this chance when you were being recruited, and when you sat out with a redshirt?

I know I had to come in because this is a great football program, but I've got big shoes to fill. Coach has been on me hard so I have to pick it up.

Q: You mentioned big shoes. What do you think of the guys that have been here before you like Brodrick Bunkley, Travis Johnson, and Darnell Dockett?

All those guys are great. (Coach Haggins) is producing great linemen. I don't like hearing from him sometimes, but in the long run it pays off because you see those guys in the NFL.

Q: Coach Haggins talks about teaching fundamentals step-by-step, but you also have

to learn schemes. How do you manage the two?

The walk-through is your mental reps. When it's full speed you just have to go. If you mess up, you mess up full speed and then he'll correct you. You have to go full speed all the time.

Q: What are some of the other important things Haggins has told you?

He mainly tells us to stay low and hands, that's the main thing. Get them first and attack.

Q: What did you take away from your redshirt season?

I looked at Bunkley a whole lot. He walked me through some steps and taught me some fundamentals. During practice he would tell me things. I would look at him and ask him why did he do this.

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