In The Locker Room with Bennett Jackson and Justin Bute
This week, the Review sat down with sophomore defensive back Bennett Jackson and junior linebacker Justin Bute to discuss their first win on the new Dick Bailey Field, personal pump-up routines and the changing culture of the Oberlin football program.
Can you describe the atmosphere between your team and the stands at the end of the Kenyon game?
Bennett Jackson: It was really awesome knowing how hard we worked last year and this year and having it come out on the field — especially doing it for the fans.
Justin Bute: That was really one of the most important things, finally being able to [win] in front of everyone. Last year both our wins came on the road, so we could tell people about them, but it was nothing people got to see directly. And after opening up the year with that tough loss against Brockport, it was nice to come out against a rival and show how many steps forward we’re actually taking with the program.
BJ: The fans were definitely waiting for it. It got crazy at the end of the game.
JB: It was definitely a crazy environment — a high energy, wonderful environment.
Was the team’s mentality any different before this game? Could you taste the win coming?
JB: Our biggest thing is one week at a time, one team at a time — we knew we could do it, and we also knew there were bigger stipulations just because it was Kenyon, and it was a rivalry game, so it held a bit more importance. Going into it we definitely knew that we needed to be ready and mentally focused, and the opportunity to have our first win in the stadium was something we just didn’t want to let pass by.
Do you have any special personal pump-up routines?
JB: In high school, there was a song by Metallica called “Enter Sandman” that we would always listen to in order to get pumped up, so I always keep that in my routine right before we go out.
BJ: We would always watch a motivational speech [in high school] by Al Pacino from Any Given Sunday, and so like an hour before the game I’ll go out on the field by myself and listen to that and isolate myself.
Defensively, what do you think worked for you guys this game?
BJ: The whole goal for this game was to try to keep it simple — not to confuse ourselves, not to try to do too much. We knew if we came out and did our stuff we’d be able to hold them. We made some errors and mistakes in the end, but we ended up holding strong with “bend, don’t break” defense.
JB: We also really trusted each other. That’s one of the biggest things we preached in the offseason — not only trusting each other but also trusting the coaching, holding the belief that whatever the coaches have us do or wherever they have us put, we’re going to be successful. Definitely when that fourth quarter came around, we just stuck together as a unit even when things may not have gone our way. We really kept it close; that was the key.
Are there any personal game highlights that you’re really proud of?
JB: Just winning. There were a lot of key plays that guys made, but in the end we won, and no matter what happens, that’s always the goal.
BJ: I agree. But in that last play of the game, when I knocked down that pass, it was just really good to know [the game] was over.
What is the most important part of your personal defensive games?
JB: Doing what we can to make sure the team is successful. That means having trust in each other, the guys behind us and in front of us. We need to trust that they’re going to do their job and they trust that we’re going to do our job. Generally, making sure that we’re in the position to make others successful as well.
BJ: For me personally, it’s putting in the hours during the week so I know my assignment and what I’m doing come game time. That way before the snap of the ball, I know what my job is, and once it snaps I can just play football.
How have the new coaching staff changes affected you and your training?
JB: Our head coach, who’s the only consistent guy we’ve had in the past couple years, has preached that no matter what coaches come or what coaches go, we’re doing the best that we possibly can with whatever we’re given and taught. We just have to go out and do our jobs, because at the end of the day we’re the ones out on the field playing the games.
BJ: The most important thing is that the whole defense and our whole team trust our coach. Our defense hasn’t changed; we’ve been consistent. We just try to do the same thing week in and week out, and we just have to go out and play football no matter what happens.
Is this game indicative of progress towards goals you’ve mentioned? Is it setting a good tone for the season?
BJ: We’re finally starting to change the culture around here, I think. And getting a win on our field is another step in the right direction. I think the fans are going to show more support now too. The culture is definitely changing.
JB: Saturday was just another positive step. … I think, going back to last year’s spring camp and fall camp, we’ve been making progress and taking steps forward every day. After earning that win on Saturday, our progress is finally going to start showing up for everyone to see. They’ll see that we are here to get better, and that we’re here to make some noise, and we’re capable of what we’ve set out to do.
How did you guys celebrate?
JB: We just embraced it with each other and came together as a team. We began this year with the mindset of trying to turn this program around. There have been great players and coaches who have come through here who haven’t seen the success that their efforts should have shown. The biggest thing is we’re trying to get that flipped and change the perspective on our program for our opponents, the conference and the College here.
BJ: It was a long time coming. We put in the hard work together, we won together and we celebrated our success as a team.