He has yet to coach a game in his new role as defensive coordinator, but two of his senior leaders like what they see from John Butler so far.
“Ton of fun to play for,” said middle linebacker Glenn Carson at Big Ten Media Days. “He’s so energetic and passionate for the game. He’s like coach O’Brien but maybe even a little more energetic than coach O’Brien.
“During the grind of training camp, it can be really tiring going through the same stuff everyday, and it really helps when you have a defensive coordinator who is super energetic.”
Malcolm Willis became familiar with Butler last season when Butler served as his position coach. Now, the entire defense is getting the full Butler experience.
“He’s the exact same way – Loud and enthusiastic, just not all geared towards the secondary,” said Willis. “He’s the same on the field as he is off the field – Yelling in the media room going over film and yelling on the field.”
Sometimes too much yelling can force kids to shut down and tune it out, but Willis stresses that isn’t the case here.
“That’s the type of coach we want to play for. We don’t want a coach who isn’t going to say anything. We love his coaching. It works for us.”
Throughout the spring, players insisted that the defensive scheme in 2013 would be similar to the one Ted Roof ran in 2012 aside from a few wrinkles here and there, but both seniors said the two coaches are a bit different from a personality standpoint.
“Coach Roof wasn’t the biggest rah-rah type of guy. He would get in your face need be but Butler will do that 24/7,” said Willis.
If Carson’s quote seems to resemble what Willis said, that’s because it did.
“Coach Roof was a little more laid back. Coach Butler could be running 50 yards down the field full sprint out of nowhere and you’re like what,” said Carson laughing.
Butler takes pride in his approach to coaching, often pointing out that it’s the only way he knows how to go about it. “I’m not type of guy who walks around with a cup of coffee and quietly points things out,” he said following the Blue-White game in April.
Ultimately, Butler will either fail or succeed based upon the calls he makes during his games and whether he has the players to execute them, but during his first seven months on the job he has earned the admiration of two of the more respected players on the Nittany Lions defense.
It is one of the reasons Bill O’Brien was so quick to promote him after Roof left for Georgia Tech and why O’Brien thinks he has big things in store for this year’s defensive unit.
“Fantastic coach and very intense guy,” said O’Brien. “He tells it like it is and doesn’t sugarcoat anything.”
“He has an ability to communicate very quickly and very clearly, and that’s the mark of a really good coach. His players know what he’s talking about every second of the day.”