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JCSU defensive coordinator puts emphasis on energy and execution
Coach Jeep Hunter pushes fundamentals, scheme
Published Wednesday, August 28, 2019 8:09 pm
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

Johnson C. Smith cornerback Jahvez Mitchell (24) and his defensive teammates are learning new schemes and techniques under coordinator Jeep Hunter.

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Jeep Hunter’s defensive philosophy is simple.

Do your job, and do it with enthusiasm.

Hunter, Johnson C. Smith’s new defensive coordinator, is taking a ground-level approach to a program that allowed 36.3 points and 380.2 yards per game in a 2-8 campaign last year. That means teaching the framework of responsibility, energy and execution.

“Basically, what we’d like to try to do is be a good, fundamentally sound defensive football team,” he said. “We went back to the basics and just tried to teach fundamentals and technique. Part of the problem we tried to fix was just making sure we can line up and be sound in everything we’re doing, then having a better understanding of what we’re trying to do defensively.”

The early returns have been encouraging as Hunter is mixing three- and four-man fronts in preseason drills. The goal is to give opposing offenses more to think about as formations and personnel morph.

“He’s always going to be on us and make sure we’re knowing the defense,” senior cornerback Jahvez Mitchell said. “He wants us out there as if we were him. With that kind of coach behind us, we have the mindset to go out and dominate.”

Part of that mindset is to play simple and fast, which Hunter wants from a defense designed to confuse opponents.

“We tried to cut back on a lot of things as far as going from a three-man front to a four-man front,” he said. “We wanted to make sure in our four-man front that we’re sound and everybody knew what they were supposed to be doing. From there, we’ll grow off it, but we’ll stay as basic and fundamentally sound as we need to be in order for us to be successful.”

“It’s going to be a lot different, because we’re more aggressive and coach Jeep brings that energy to the defense,” said defensive end Jabriel Robinson, who is playing more as a stand-up edge rusher in Hunter’s system. “When he gets pumped up, it pumps us up and all that does is make us want to make plays, so the more plays we make, the happier he is.”

Hunter, a Denver, N.C., native, is leveraging experiences he’s learned at Division I programs that included South Carolina and Clemson, where he worked under defensive coordinators Ellis Johnson and Tommy West, respectively.

“Those guys talked about being fundamentally sound and holding [players] accountable for everything,” Hunter said. “The thing we try to do is hold them accountable for everything they do. “They can’t take a play off. If they take a play off, they need to be on the sideline getting rest. Outside of that, they need to be on the field. We’re going to make every rep count, don’t count your reps, and that’s what they’re doing.”

The Golden Bulls are picking up on that attitude as well.

“As a defense, you have to be consistent doing the small things,” Mitchell said. “To be a great defense, at least intensity-wise, every rep needs to look the same; there should be no depleting your game across the board. If everybody [does] their job, more than likely you win that down.”
JCSU gets a chance to put those new lessons to the test Sept. 5 when the Golden Bulls take on Wingate in the season opener at McGirt Field. At this point in the process, Hunter likes their progress.

“They’ve come out and competed every day, they try to put themselves in great football position, and that’s half the battle,” he said.

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