Spencer prefers the word intensity. It's a characteristic that's always oozed from the passionate coach, in conversation and in his inspirational Twitter posts and in his work with his linebackers.
Now he hopes to inject that into the entire defensive unit.
“That's just me,” he said. “That's just trying to get the best defense on the field, and it's gotta start there. Technique things we stress. Schematic things we stress. Alignments, assignments and landmarks, all those things that great defenses have to do.
“But it all comes down to that, intensity and emotion. If you have great intensity and great strain, whenever there's a breakdown, it's amazing how somebody will show up to make up for it.”
Spencer, who was last a defensive coordinator during his time at West Georgia in the late 1990s, did gain valuable experience while working closely with Young on game planning for the past two seasons. Then when Young had an aneurysm removed last fall, Spencer filled in as the acting defensive coordinator for OSU's first two games.
That was different, though. Spencer was trying to keep the status quo for the players. And he was missing something.
“I didn't have myself in my ear, staying ahead and giving alerts and adjustments,” Spencer said. “I missed those extra set of eyes that we didn't have then.”
Spencer is looking for the assistant to fill that role now. He's leaning toward moving from the coaches' box to the sideline in the fall so he can feel the pulse of the team on the field and talk to his players face-to-face. But he has the summer to figure all of that out.
The biggest adjustment so far, Spencer said, is always remaining one day ahead of schedule, so staff meetings are efficient and corrections are made in a timely manner.
Gundy is pleased with how Spencer has handled himself since being promoted. And this spring presents the next challenge.
“The organization, the structure, the staff continuity, everything that's important in getting started has been really good,” Gundy said. “His approach to the players and them buying in has been good.
“Now comes the part that really matters — being productive on the field.”