As we do every week here on the blog, it’s time for another question and answer session. This one is particularly pertinent, as we chat with safeties coach Tony Hughes. After cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith left for another job, Hughes was given the responsibility of coaching the entire secondary for the bowl week here in Jacksonville.
Head coach Dan Mullen said it’s possible Hughes could remain in control of the full defensive backfield all of next season, if a good coaching candidate arises for a different position or area.
Naturally, his role was the main focus of the conversation he had with a few reporters at Mississippi State’s beach party on Thursday.
Q: So, how are you adjusting to handling the entire secondary?
A: I think it’s a great opportunity for me in this bowl game. It’s a great challenge. The beautiful thing about it is we have veteran corners, Banks, Slay and Broomfield, who have all played a lot of football. The other beautiful thing about it is I’ve coached Banks, who was a safety as a true freshman, then Broomfield played safety this year. So, it’s not a total shock or something that’s out of the ordinary for me to be able to do. Plus, Melvin and I, we worked together often. We may take half a line and I’m working a drill with a corner and a safety. It’s not a total shock.
Q: Mullen mentioned there’s a possibility you could just coach the entire secondary going into next season.
A: It would be exciting. I’ve done it before. It’s been a while. Before I came here, I was a corners coach at Louisiana Tech. I’ve been a full secondary coach my entire career. On other job I’ve either been safeties or corners or both. If that was the direction it went in, we would adjust fine and we would make the transition.
Q: A lot of the players said they had some communication issues on the field in the last few games. Have you guys been able to correct some of that?
A: I think so. The thing you run into from week-to-week is you play teams with different offenses and different schemes. Every time, you can’t go out there and line up and do the same thing over and over and over because they’ll expose you. Sometimes, when you have a communication issue, it’s in the transition or it’s in the trying communicate something you might have seen during the week but it’s the only time you saw it.
Q: In a way, could it maybe help having just once coach and voice for the whole secondary, maybe make it more cohesive?
A: You have plusses and minuses on both sides, and one voice is good, but then you also have a nickel or dime package where you’ve got six DBs out there at the same time, so one guy is watching six people at one time, schematically. The other thing you have is from week-to-week. If you’re playing a team that runs a lot of different formations and shifts, two people are better than one because one person may not be able to make all those adjustments.
Q: It’s a pretty special group of senior corners you’re getting to work with in their last few days.
A: It’s exciting for me to work with those guys, especially having worked with Banks when he first started his career at safety and now he’s a corner. I made a joke to him, ‘Alright, Johnthan you thought you got away from me but I got you back now. Alright Corey, you thought you got away from me and I got you back, too.’ They said ‘Alright coach, let’s go.’