STILLWATER, Okla. —
“What I talk about to those guys is that when they make a mistake, there’s nobody behind them to cover for them,” Barnard said. “When a defensive lineman or linebacker makes a mistake, then we’re expecting them to help on the back end make up for that and fill in. We don’t have anybody to do that for us (in the defensive backfield), so it’s really important that we understand the big picture of the defense and how it all works together.”
Strong safety King Williams, a senior-to-be, said having the head coach in the position meetings and running drills is a little different.
“It makes us pay a lot more attention,” Williams said. “But it’s great to have our head coach working with us at the one position.”
But Williams said Barnard is good about stressing the technique needed to succeed in the defensive backfield — where the players spend a majority of the time running backwards.
“He’s really technical. He’ll break it down,” the veteran safety said. “He’s a coach that will show all of us the whole thing and then break it down into little pieces. He’s just giving us key things that will help us in the long run.”
With the Pioneers in their first week of spring practices at Pioneer Stadium, this is the perfect time for Barnard — and the other position coaches — to focus on technique. But Barnard takes a unique approach to his coaching, giving examples of when or why a player made need to know a certain move for a drill as a way to help the players connect the drill to game-time situations.
“We run through a drill, but I try to give them examples of how that drill will relate to them in a football game so that can create a visual image because if I just point and tell them to run this way and turn, they are getting the work but not getting the mental repetition of understanding why that’s important,” Barnard said.