Jeff Koonz Q&A

If you missed the audio of this recent interview check out the text below.

Q:  How important – you always hear that if you have to step in and put a newcomer in a position, corner's it because it's so reliant on athleticism, but talk about the experience – some guys will be getting some experience when they start at Kent State.  Is experience overrated in the corner position?


Koonz:  No…I never made that comment….being a secondary guy.  Right now I think the secondary is the toughest place to play.  For the obvious reason, if you mess up in secondary – 55,000 see it.  I think there is definitely an experience factor there.  Experience isn't a luxury that we have right now.  We have some guys that have played in the Big 12 and at that level, but a lot of guys that haven't.  We're trying to gain as much of that experience in practice as we can.  I think that was one thing that I talked about last time…the situational part of practice is big especially for those young guys.  But, again we're trying to facilitate that experience as much as possible.  We're going to have to prepare them for situations.

Q:  What kind of situations do you put them through?


Koonz:  Down in distance, field position situations, red zone, sudden changes, blitzing…again, whatever defense we're in it depends on the situations. Any player before you get to this level that's drilled on situations…that's new for everyone.

Q:  Have you looked back on numbers from last year.  I think opponents completed 72.5% against you.  Have you preached on those numbers at all or do you try to forget them?


Koonz:  We're just trying to do our best from day to day to get better.  That's not trying to sound cliché.  Obviously there is work to be done, but if we were giving 23% of passes we would be working just as hard the next day.  So, we don't really dwell on those…we just try to get better every day.


Q:  How are the young guys doing preparing for another team opposed to the fundamentals?


Koonz:  The great thing about how we're doing practice is there's still plenty of fundamental time.  And we're still getting to do those type deals and then we'll work in game plan as practice moves on.   Yeah, I'd say they're doing a good job and we're trying to break it down by category and making it learner-friendly for them, but I've been pleased in the first couple days.


Q:  Yesterday we got a chance to hear about the starting unit from Coach McFarland…the starter he's projecting.  Who are the projected starters in the defensive backfield?


Koonz:  We're in a good situation right now where there's still competition.  That might sound crazy a week out, but we are.  We have a lot of guys that we feel comfortable with…we have a lot of guys that have played here.  You look at the safety position and you've got Caleb Berg, Steven Johnson and Brandon Hunley and you've got James Smith who's come back well from an injury last year.  Those four guys are still in the mix and nothing's really changed as far as depth chart goes.  At corner, it's still the usual suspects.  Zac is still playing really well.  Drenard is getting better every day.  But, again, to answer your question we still have some work to do.


Q:  Is Allen moving up the chart?


Koonz:  Allen is right there and competing every day.  Every day, Allen gets better at something.  With him being a newcomer and not having the 15 day head start that all the returning guys had, he's done a great job of catching up and has really put himself in the mix.  We look for him to put himself in the game early.


Q:  Coach Raney talked about Chris Brown who's just transformed his body?


Koonz:  Chris has gained a lot of weight.  He looks the part.  He feels better.  He's just one of many examples that we've had from our strength and conditioning program this year.  We feel really good about that.  We give Chris a hard time, but he's done a great job of taking pride in himself.  Obviously, the program those guys have been putting them through in the weight room is great, but he's taken a personal interest in it and that's made a big difference.


Q:  What are some of the things that this unit is doing that you are most pleased with…whether it be physical or whatever…what are the things that this unit is really getting?


Koonz:  The biggest thing for me right now is their focus.  They've done a great job of staying focused over the past 2-a-days and going into game prep.  Doing exactly what we need them to do that day.  As far as…that day our focus might be to be physical and to do that part of it…they've done whatever we've asked them to do and that's all we can ask for.  They've done a great job with that.


Q:  There's a great group of receivers out there.  How are these guys looking against the receiver core?


Koonz:  Good.  We are so fortunate to have a great group of receivers that they get to go against each day.  We've had our fair share of wins and so have they, but every day, but they help each other compete.  It's fun to watch and be a part of. 


Q:  Defense…besides the backfield have they settled on the ones that will play against Kent State and if so, who are those?


Koonz:  You'd have to ask Coach Bolt and Pelton about that.  We've talked about that as a staff, but there the ones who will have to make that decision.

Q:  What are the things that you have to work on between now and that Kent State game with this unit?


Koonz:  The biggest thing is putting them in situations and giving them the hard facts…this is what they do when they show us this.  Tendencies are huge and the guys have to go into every play thinking, "OK, if they show me this then these five things."  Our goal is to narrow that down as much as possible so they can just play and not have to think.  That's where our emphasis is going to be…focusing on every intricacy of their scheme and to really put ourselves in the best position to defend it. 

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