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Provided by: Ohio University.

New Coach on the Block

August 15, 2022

Football: Meet defensive coordinator Spence Nowinsky

By Ashley Beach | Sports Editor

On Jan. 20, Ohio announced a new defensive coordinator for the 2022 season.

After a less than impressive defensive season in 2021, the Bobcats needed a jolt to bring them back to life. Luckily, they found it in Spence Nowinsky.

Nowinsky previously spent four seasons as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Miami University. He coached the best scoring defense in the Mid-American Conference in 2021. Nowinsky also coached several players to All-MAC selections during his time with the RedHawks

The Post sat down with Nowinsky to discuss the upcoming season, his new role and more.

The Post: You spent your last couple of seasons at Miami, how do you feel that your knowledge of the MAC is going to help you in your role at Ohio?

Nowinsky: I think that familiarity is always good. Understanding what certain people do offensively, tendencies, understanding personnel in the league.

TP: How do you feel the defense has grown from spring practice to now?

Nowinsky: I think we are right where we should be. I think that we’re in a very good place and we have excellent, tough young men on our team. I think we have guys that are smart, that work extremely hard and that like each other… I really appreciate how the players have embraced the change and the transition because it's not easy. It's not easy for them, it's not easy for us.

TP: You talked about communication, transition and working with something new, what has it been like working with this newer coaching staff?

Nowinksy: Well, that’s always a challenge. Luckily, Coach (John) Houser, who I worked with the previous four years from Miami is here with me, and that obviously aids magnificently within the transition. I think then it is just much like the players. It’s relationship building. First of all, the other assistants have to understand where you’re coming from, and again, you can’t be gray. You have to be very, very direct and you have to, more than anything, build relationships. Everybody can’t just wave a wand and all of a sudden love each other. It has to start from communication and respect for each other and that’s what I’ve always tried to do… I have to make the best decisions for our defense as in our team. But, very much, we’re in this together and everybody has a say, has a hand in it.

TP: Ohio’s defense wasn’t the best last season. It was in the bottom half of the MAC. What are you hoping to see out of the squad this fall?

Nowinsky: Here’s the non-negotiables of football. Every year is a different year. What we have to do is make sure that we emphatically pursue the football, we have to fly to the football, and when we get there, we have to be willing to strike and hit and be in position to fully execute our defense. We’re going to make mistakes at times, but I always tell guys ‘hey, you have to make full-speed decisions. If you’re going to make a mistake, make it full-speed. Don’t hesitate. Don’t overthink things…’ Understanding and executing our own defense. If we know what our opponent is doing, and that takes great awareness, great focus and great communication prior to the ball being snapped, and when that ball snaps, then that allows us to make those decisions in a timely fashion and then play really aggressively in the space that we can play in.

TP: Do you have any goals for this season?

Nowinsky We’re going to have to get better each week. I talk about number one, always competing, and that means we’re going to play physical and we’re going to play fast. Next, we have to have unbelievable concentration and that comes from how we focus and communicate. We’re always going to have to be prepared and ready. We get 20 hours during the work week, during a game week we get 20 hours with the student athletes and that counts in the weight room. That counts obviously practice time. That counts game time. So there’s not really a ton of time each day that we get to spend with the student athletes. So, it takes extra buy in, it takes extra time where the student athletes need to come in on their own. They need to watch extra film on their own. They need to get together and go over things.

The best teams I’ve ever been around, as soon as practice gets over, guys come up and they watch practice film and places that aren’t so great, guys don’t do that. And that’s caring, that’s wanting to be very good at what you do. Our players here, under the schedule, have Sundays off, so Monday is the first work day of the week. Sunday’s off, but it’s got to be a day where guys come in on their own and can watch film and study opponents and do ask questions and do take great notes, and then study their notes diligently just like class. This is a class and we can’t benefit, guys can’t get C’s, guys can’t get B’s. We have to get A’s. When all 11 guys get A’s on the field, you’ll be pretty darn good on defense.

TP: What are you looking forward to most this season?

Nowinsky: You know, just seeing how we grow. Seeing what we are capable of doing. Everybody’s doubting us right now and we’re an underdog. I love that role. It’s us against the world, and that’s awesome. It's fun to be the team that’s hunting and not the hunted. We’ve got a group of guys that are very excited to get better, very excited to be a good defense. They have a chip on their shoulder right now of what they’re going to be and what we’re striving to be, so that’s right now what I am excited to see, the progress that we take from the spring. I think we’ve made great strides this summer. From the summer now transitioning into fall camp and then fall camp to (Florida Atlantic) so that’s the steps we’re taking and again, I like our progress right now and I like where we are right now. But we’re going to go 1-0 and we’re not there yet. So, we have to keep growing. We have to keep building. We have to keep improving. We have to keep moving forward.

TP: You talked about importance. What is important to you as a coach?

Nowinksy: Doing things the right way. Not cutting corners, not cutting off your nose to spite your face. We’re going to work hard and we’re going to be great technicians. We’re not going to be trash talkers. We’re going to walk with a swagger and not apologize to anybody for kicking tail, but we’re going to do it the right way. We’re going to always protect the team. We’re not going to get stupid penalties. We’re not going to be undisciplined. We’re going to be prideful, and represent Ohio University with great pride and great honor.

AUTHOR: Ashley Beach
EDITOR: Will Cunningham