Football team debuting simplified playbook

Maher Kawash, Football Reporter


The Eastern football team has always been one to rely on its defensive success, but inconsistency on that side of the ball last year caused some problems.

That can change this year though, as the team has simplified its playbook and made it easier for the defense to focus on each of its opponents.

Eastern linebacker Nick Horne said the change in the size of the playbook is one difference from a year ago, but as far as performance on the field he said fundamentals are key.

“I think it’s because the overall defense knows the basic fundamentals of how to play a solid defense,” Horne said. “The last few years we’ve had a really thick playbook with a lot of checks and things to look whereas this year were just going to play football.”

That will be key for the Panthers as it is Horne’s final season and he is one of their most experience players after the loss of Seth McDonald to graduation.

“I think the change will be good for the defense because it’s going to be basic and we’re going to be relentless in pursuit of the ball just building our identity for ourselves,” Horne said.

The Panthers have not had many problems despite a bigger playbook in the past as they finished last season as the third ranked defense in the Ohio Valley Conference.

As far as replacing a vocal leader like McDonald, Horne said he understands he will have to carry the role as one of the team’s leaders.

But as far as how he will lead, not much will change.

“I know I’ll have the role of a leader this year, but that doesn’t change my demeanor or anything,” Horne said. “I just want to be a great example and have a good season.”

He has not only improved on the field since he arrived as a freshman to Eastern, but he has also improved on being a vocal leader in the locker room.

“When I first came here I was definitely a lead by example person, but then I talked to a few wise men who told me I had to be more vocal because I’m at the linebacker position,” Horne said. “Now I think I’m more vocal, still not the loudest guy but I’m definitely opening up.”

Horne has definitely led by example, as he ranked second on the team last season with 74 tackles, while also ranking fifth in the Ohio Valley Conference with five sacks.

Him and the rest of the Panthers will get their first shot at the new campaign starting Thursday at Indiana State.

Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]