"The campus, the setting, the way the Rebels always played us so hard. They always fired out and tried to intimidate the opponent and I respected that," Roach reflected, leaned back in his chair in his office in the Manning Center. "It's been a while since I have had the opportunity to see what this place has to offer, but now that I have been updated, it is unbelievable. This is a remarkable place."
Roach is excited to get rolling today as the Rebels open spring training and he gets an opportunity to apply his craft outside the chalk board as a Rebel mentor.
"Our goal is to teach them how to play the game the right way. We assume they know, and that's not fair to them. As a staff under Coach (Wesley) McGriff, we will spend more time teaching how to play versus what to do. Sometimes coaches get too hung up on scheme and don't spend enough time on fundamentals and technique. that will not be the case with this defense," Roach noted. "We're going to be simple. You can handicap players when you give them too much scheme. It slows them down.
"We want guys playing fast and getting to the ball. We will teach them how to play this game the right way and then let them go play without miring them down mentally."
Roach started his career as a defensive line coach at East Mississippi Community College, where they won a national championship in 2011 with four DTs who went on to major college careers. From there, Murray State and then to South Alabama before going back to Alabama in player development.
"I have a lot of good experience and know the defense is built on those guys up front. You have to be able to teach them what is going to happen to them so they can react properly," he explained. "That comes with reps. You have to get after them, you have to work them, but you can also have a good time in the process. They have to be disciplined. They have to know how important their positions are."
The assumption, knowing the way Roach attacked football as a player, is that he is a high-energy coach. He does not dispute that.
"I'm a middle child. I've always been the kid who runs around being loud. I don't know what I would do besides be a coach," he smiled. "This is a perfect fit for me. You can't ask a young man to do the things they are asked to do without matching their intensity and work ethic, on and off the field. I will not coach with my hands in my pockets. That's not my style."
Roach believes he has talent in his position room.
"We have some race cars up front. With a race car, sometimes you have to tweak the fuel, change the filter, add a little more horsepower. That is the plan. These are good players, but what can they do better to benefit this defense and make them better football players. That is my job - to figure that out," he noted. "My goal is for them to show me what they can do and then add to the arsenal as we go. If we can get an inch better every day, where will be in a matter of months? That is my approach.
"We will build every day. I feel very comfortable with the personnel we have up front. It is as good as a lot of them I have ever seen. Again, it's just the work. Add some horsepower, change a filter here and there and go play. It is not rocket science. It's football. Get off blocks, tackle the ball. Football will be the same 200 years from now - can you play a block, can you get off a block and can you get to the ball? Can you do it with the intensity and effort to win games?"
Roach believes effective defensive line play takes more than four players.
"It takes an army, in my opinion. My job is to develop all my players into players we can count on, players who can come into a game and we not miss a beat. We will play as a unit and we will play as many guys who are capable of playing winning football. The more the merrier," Roach noted.
Roach said he is excited about the attitude the players have had thus far in the classroom during chalk talks.
"I think we have a group of young men who have the potential to be a special group and it's time we got on grass and proved it," he closed.