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Q&A: New Baylor DC Phil Bennett, Part II

1/12/2011

Phil Bennett spent Saturday as Pittsburgh's interim coach, where he coached the Panthers to a 27-10 win over Kentucky. He's now Baylor's new defensive coordinator, and took some time for ESPN.com on Tuesday at the American Football Coaches Association Convention to discuss how and why he made his move, as well as Baylor's future.

Here's Part I from earlier today, in case you missed it.

Do you anticipate making any staff changes defensively?

Yeah, there will be some staff changes. It'll probably be announced on Thursday. It's never that the coaches are not good coaches. These guys are good guys. It's just, I've been doing this and I've always had people that know my tactics and are familiar with what I want, and it's always a transition in coaching. It's unfortunate, but it happens. I've been on both sides of it.

I know you only got to see them that once, but what do you see in Baylor's defense?

You know, it would be unfair for me to make an assessment. I know they were a good-looking team, and they didn't play to the level that they wanted to. I just know this: I've been in this business a long time, and I'm confident that I can help get this thing to the level that it needs to be. I think, obviously, it starts with recruiting. Let's not kid ourselves: We all coach players who can run and hit, and I'm a guy that, my defenses are always built around speed. I don't worry as much about size. We're going to try to get some guys on the field that can cover ground and create positive matchups and be sound. If you ever watched us at Pittsburgh, we had a lot of injuries, devastating injuries, and I think we were still a top-10 defense. We were one of the few defenses that was in the top 25 in every category. It was done with some guys that initially we didn't think would be playing.

What do fans need to know about your defensive philosophy, outside of emphasizing speed?

I'm a matchup guy. I'm aggressive, I like to dictate things. People ask if we're a 4-3 team, well, we're multiple. We'll have three- and four-man fronts. You'll see a three-man package, a four-man package. One of the reasons I think I've had success is I have a philosophy: That's stop the run and make offenses predictable. But I've always built my packages around the personnel that I have. I want to see what we got. When I was at Kansas State, I had five NFL defensive backs. I could do some things very few people could do. People asked me, "Can you do what you did at Kansas State?" I'm not sure I've got Terence Newman, Marques Hagans and Jon McGraw. I don't know if I have that. It's all about ... that's why I think Texas high school coaches do such a good job. Year in and year out, their personnel changes and they evolve to what they can do to win.

What will it take for Baylor to become a team that wins big and wins consistently?

Without question, prime recruiting. Getting better players and coaching ... let's face it, coaching them. I mean, they're pretty good on offense. [Head coach] Art's [Briles] got 'em going. With [quarterback] Robert Griffin and the things they did on offense, for us to take the next step, I've got to get the defense ready to play. And I expect to do that.