Hale: "Middle Linebacker Takes More Thought"

John Hale, the junior linebacker, talks about the many difference phases he's experienced during his three-year Bruin career, going from starting as a freshman, to now moving to the back-up middle linebacker and heir apparent behind Christian Taylor...

John Hale, the junior middle linebacker spoke to us after practice Monday.
 
How has the switch been to primarily middle linebacker?

 

"Well, the position's a little different. It takes a lot more thought to play middle linebacker. You control the whole defense. In a complicated system like ours it takes a lot of studying and a lot of hard work to get it down. I feel I'm at a point where I've got a good grasp on things."

 

Has Christian helped you out learning the nuances?

 

"Yeah, he's taken me under his wing since the first day I stepped on campus. He's just as knowledgeable as anyone else on this defense, and he helps me out as much as Coach (DeWayne) Walker and Coach (Chuck) Bullough. The guy knows the defense like the back of his hand."

 

Learning the new position, does Coach Bullough still get on you when you make mistakes?

 

"He's been on everyone when they make mistakes. He likes things done the right way. That's what we strive for. He definitely gets on me when I make mistakes, but that's helped me become a better middle linebacker."

 

Can you talk about the adjustments between playing outside and now playing inside?

 

"Well, on the inside, you have to run downhill a lot more than you do on the outside, but you still have to get to the boundaries. I think it's more the mental game than anything. But you also have to take on the fullbacks and big guys inside. It's a different game, but I love it just as much."

 

Do you have to do more or less pass coverage from this position in the scheme?

 

"The same. The same amount of pass coverage. It's just different. You have to know what's going on all over the field."

 

What about your game do you think you need to work on the most?

 

"Probably speed. I did a lot of work on my speed this past offseason. Speed always makes the game easier for you."

 

Did you work with (new strength and conditioning) Coach Horton?

 

"Yeah, I worked with Coach Horton a lot. He's got a great knowledge of speed work, so I worked out with him a bunch of times. He was out here the whole summer. He did a lot for me."

 

Was it mostly different running techniques he taught you?

 

"Everything from running technique to just the different drills we did. A lot of bursts, a lot of explosion stuff. There was a whole repertoire of things he pulled out for us."

 

Has it been difficult going from starting your freshman year to primarily being a backup?

 

"It was different from freshman year, obviously. But it's all about winning here. I want to help the team where I can, and just keep working."

 

Next year, you've got many of the guys on this defense graduating, and you'll be a senior. Have you started to kind of try to take that leadership role now?

 

"I believe so. I have tried to step up into bigger and bigger shoes every year since my freshman year, and I plan on doing that next year as well."

 
 

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