GBW Interview: Linebackers coach Mark Smith

Linebackers coach Mark Smith talked to the media about position switches, recruiting, how his unit will work with the defensive linemen and more.

Position switches and early thoughts on the unit:
Cam Gordon is coming down to me and Brandin Hawthorne is coming down to me. You know, we haven’t had a chance to do a lot of actual football football with them yet. Go put the pads on and go hit and run and all that, but the stuff you see in the weight room and all the stuff you see in the mornings, running, and their eagerness and willingness to be the best they can be…it’s all very positive.

Are the linebackers going to be covered up more in this defense?
I think the goal is always that you’re going to be able to flow to the ball and make plays, but the reality of it is everybody has to get off a block. At some point you’ve got to get off blocks.

So is the goal for defensive linemen to keep the linebackers more free?
You’ll have to ask Jerry that question, no, believe me, they have their job to do up front, but it’s not strictly their job to keep us free. Their job is to make plays too. If their job is to be free and to make the play, then make it. If their job is to hold up a guy or hold up two guys, then they’ll do that, but we don’t go into it saying if the linebackers aren’t playing well, it’s because the linemen aren’t, but believe me, the success of any defense is based on how well you play up front. Those kids up front on both sides of the ball…defensive line and offensive line wins football games.

I have Southwest Ohio, so I’ve got the Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus area. I’ll have the state of Kentucky. I’ll have Tennessee and West Virginia. I kind of grew up in that area and I recruited that area of Ohio for a lot of years for two different schools, so I’m very familiar with the area and the coaches down there. Coach Hoke being from Dayton, if I don’t get guys from down there, I’ll probably be gone, so I better get ‘em out of there.

Do any freshmen have an opportunity to contribute?
Believe me, anybody coming in has an opportunity to play. It doesn’t matter what year, what time it is. Coach always talks about, there is no entitlement. There is no ownership. You know, we tell the same group right now. Some of these kids have played a little bit. Some of them haven’t. It doesn’t matter. What matters is, a kid does the best job, then he’s going to play. We’re going to play the best players. I mean, it’s not a personal issue. It’s all about production. Hopefully these young guys will come in and challenge. That means we recruited the right guys.

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