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‘We’re gonna play a physical brand of football’: New Indiana Football DC Bryant Haines shared some insight about what’s to come



Indiana football
New Indiana football defensive coordinator Bryant Haines appeared on the newest episode of Under the Hood with Indiana Football. (James Madison Athletics)

New Indiana football coach Curt Cignetti brought a lot of his staff with him from James Madison and that included defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Bryant Haines.

Haines is set to make $1.1 million in 2024 after he became the highest-paid coordinator in Indiana football history upon joining the staff and he appeared on the newest episode of Under the Hood with Indiana Football.

Haines is returning to Bloomington after he spent the 2012 season as a graduate assistant with Indiana football.

“It feels great, I really like this place,” Haines said about returning to Bloomington. “I was only here for a year in 2012 with Kevin Wilson and it was a solid staff. … The school, the pride and Indiana Hoosier football was awesome. I love being in the Big Ten, I enjoyed my time here and I’m happy to be back.”

Haines emphasized that the things that made Bloomington special in 2012 are still here today. Cignetti and his staff plan to build on those things to create a new culture for the future of Indiana football.

“He’s a football guy. If you talk to Coach Cignetti as a fan, as a friend, as a coworker it’s all ball all the time,” Haines said about Cignetti. “100 miles-per-hour all the time. Singular focus and I’m a little bit that way too. I’m obsessed with the game of football.”

While at James Madison, Haines’ defense played a hard-nosed physical brand of football. His defense finished 20th in opponent points per game, allowing 19.5 points per game a season ago and four of his five years at JMU had his total defense ranked in the top 10.

“We’re gonna play a physical brand of football,” Haines said about his defensive style.

A big strength of Haines’ defense at JMU was the ability to stop the run. The Dukes allowed opponents to average 2.6 yards per carry a season ago which ranked 2nd in the FBS.

“We’re gonna be fast, we’re gonna be physical, and we’re gonna be relentless,” Haines said about his defense. “We’re gonna be accountable to one another. We’re gonna be committed to doing our job.”

Another thing that Haines emphasized during his appearance on Under the Hood with Indiana Football is the importance of competition.

“We’re gonna enjoy competition. That’s a big message that I’m gonna put out to our guys” Haines said. “Competition is a beautiful thing, so when you’re not in competition with anybody there’s no growth. Being uncomfortable is good.”

Haines wants his guys to understand that their jobs are never safe whether they have been starting for four years or they are highly touted recruits.

When building the roster, Haines reiterated points that Cignetti has made all off-season. They aren’t looking at a player by the stars next to their name, rather they want guys who have and will produce for them.

“It always starts for us with with productivity we’re looking for guys that are on the field making plays. We don’t care as much about that four-star kid at so and so school that has never stepped onto the field.” Haines said. “That’s not as meaningful to the kid that maybe is coming from a G5 program or what have you, but the kid makes plays, so we wanted to find playmakers and we were able to bring in several guys that we feel do that at a high level.”

While Cignetti and Haines added a lot of new faces to the roster, Haines said that talented players are returning and he hopes to get the most out of the returning guys.

“I thought that there was some talent here. I think it needs to be developed. And I think there’s things that we can add from a schematic standpoint that can highlight these guys.” Haines said. “But there’s guys with strengths some solid attributes that were already here. We can put in better situations maybe and they can shine a little bit brighter.”

With a mix of new and returning players, Haines, a 2023 Broyles Award semifinalist, Cignetti and Indiana football will be working hard to recreate the defensive success they saw while at James Madison.

SEE ALSO: Indiana football defensive end Andre Carter finishes year ranking among top edge rushers in significant category

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Drew Rosenberg is staff writer for and hosts 'The Talkin' Bout the Hoosiers Podcast' covering Indiana University athletics. Drew graduated from Indiana University's Sports Media program in 2024.