Batoon begins next career phase

New UH defensive coordinator Corey Batoon. / Photo by Brian McInnis

Most of Corey Batoon’s college football coaching career can be neatly divided into two phases: his Northern Arizona career (11 years), and his career in the South (nine).

You might say he’s begun Phase 3.

Batoon, UH’s new defensive coordinator and safeties coach who arrived in the spring, has had the Rainbow Warriors running his new multiple-set schemes for the past two weeks of training camp, plus the work the Warriors put in during the spring and independently over the summer.

After graduating from Saint Louis School in the mid-80s, Batoon went off to the mainland to play football, first at City College of San Diego, then to Long Beach State (the 49ers dropped football two years after he was done playing). From there, he remained on the mainland to cut his coaching teeth, interspersed with yearly trips home to visit his parents and siblings. His father is Sol Batoon, a fixture in high school athletics.

It’s been a long road; other stops have included Arkansas State, Montana and Saint Mary’s. Along the way, he started his own family.

“It’s amazing to come full circle. It’s always been something that we’ve talked about as a family, being able to come back home,” UH’s Batoon said recently. “And this job is important to the state. I understand what it means to the people. And we’re excited to be back. We were fortunate to kind of raise our kids in two different ares. In Arizona, where we were near family, could get back here quite a bit. And the last (decade), in the South. It was a unique opportunity. I missed the fried chicken.” He laughed. “But it’s good to be back home.

“I haven’t lived back here permanently since ’86. So, a lot of changes, but a lot of the same. But we’d come back every summer. My mom and dad still reside here. Up until recently, all of my brothers were here, and now I just have my youngest brother here on the island. So, it’s always been a destination for us, whether it’s Christmas or summers. Now we get a chance to live it full-time.”

As far as Division I coaching goes, he was about as far away as you could get.

He spent last year at Florida Atlantic University as the safeties/special teams and co-defensive coordinator under Lane Kiffin, in Kiffin’s first season in Boca Raton. Before that, Batoon was at Ole Miss for five years, including a run of four straight bowl game appearances, most notably the 2016 Sugar Bowl.

“It was awesome. Every stop we’ve been at, we’ve tried to take different things,” Batoon said. “Obviously learned a lot from Lane’s system and how he does things. I think him coming from that Alabama background, he brought a lot of that we were able to do. We did some remarkable things. The team, when we got there, had gone through three straight 3-9 seasons. And we were able to come in and be a part of of that turnaround. We were 11-3 last year. So it can be done … — it was a unique situation, the kids really came in, bought in — but it’s amazing what happens when you get some confidence.”

Batoon has tried to instill that at home. It was his idea to install a two-huddle system, something he picked up under Kiffin, for fall camp here, with the thought that it basically doubles the number of repetitions for the large pool of players vying for jobs.

Players in camp have spoken with enthusiasm for the “attacking-style” defense that calls for some flexibility, particularly between the defensive ends and linebackers.

“Scheme-wise, we got our system in place,” Batoon said. “It’s just a matter of finding and fine-tuning personnel. Finding where guys fit into those systems. We have pretty unique and distinct systems. … But yeah, we’re multiple (set), and we always have been, and that’s what we’ll do.

“(The hybrid ends) have to morph into different things based on calls. At times they’re going to be strictly a hand in the dirt, coming after the passer. And times they’ll have to the back. At times they’ll be in a drop. So those guys have a unique skill-set.”

Cornerbacks coach Abe Elimimian, one of a handful of staff holdovers from last season, has enjoyed the competition at his position so far in camp. For his guys, it hasn’t felt like a total overhaul from the Legi Suiaunoa era, he said, in part because the new tactics are coming from a familiar voice.

“Schematically, I think defensively, what this defense will allow (our players) to do is make more plays in the passing game,” Elimimian said. “Coach Batoon’s always talking about tips and overthrows. And you’ve seen that a couple times this spring with guys being able to get their hands on the ball. Now, the biggest thing for us, when the games come, we have to capitalize (on those chances).”


  1. 808WarriorFan August 9, 2018 9:33 pm

    Can’t wait to see this “New Look …D…” Hope it doesn’t get burnt like last years …


  2. Maddog50 August 10, 2018 4:17 am

    Coach Batoon is a more than welcome breath of fresh air. As he describes his defense, between the lines is actively attacking yet positioned to cause and execute turnovers. If I was sure of one thing the D will be greatly improved!

  3. H-Man August 10, 2018 6:00 am

    Last season, the secondary allowed the opponents to complete critical passes to continue drives or long gains. They often seemed to be out of position, or they simply were beaten badly. Of course, some of the pass-defense ills could have been traced to an ineffective pass rush. So I really expect big improvement this season with Batoon leading the defense.

  4. Paniolo August 10, 2018 7:48 am

    As a staunch and loyal supporter for our Warrior football team, I suck in every good thing that I read about our Warriors in spring training and now fall. Its normal for me to get excited for the coming season. But like always when the season starts, its like apples and oranges. Meaning what I read about the good football news in spring and fall training shows a different story when reality kicks in. When the season starts, our defense did not perform as they should or our offense went dead. So I am trying not to be excited for this season.
    I read in a blog, that Colorado State scrimmage a few days ago, produce 4 touchdowns by their offensive unit. If you all remember Colorado State came on our turf last year and crushed our Warriors 51-21. In a few weeks our Warriors open the season on the road against Colorado State with a rebuilding Warrior team… But I never lose my support for our Warriors… for better or for worse..

  5. 808WarriorFan August 10, 2018 10:54 am

    #4 … “Paniolo” … like you I never lose my support for our Warriors … Mahalo Brah … if the CSU “O” put 4 TDs up against their “D”, let’s hope guys like 5-6-7-19 can put up points against their “D” … John Ursua, Cedric Byrd, RB Dayton Furuta, & Jojo Ward …


  6. Sangamon Keith August 10, 2018 1:02 pm

    #4 Paniolo … I wish there was more to read but I also remember that every other MWC fan is doing the same intense reading about their respectI’ve schools. Obviously, we are all in the “hoping” mode … envisioning winning records, bowl games and even MWC championships. Just remember that they too have new recruits and often are building on positives. For me the UH positives are Rolovich for his offensive mind and Batoon who has experienced the intensity of SEC football, their defensive schemes and motivation techniques. Those two coaches are truly solid … and Rolo built on that by bringing in Banker and Weber who both have deep roots in the PAC 12. The players are good athletes … it’s up to Rolo and his staff to put them in a position to win. It might not come this year … but Rolo and Batoon are winners!

  7. Jaws August 10, 2018 4:55 pm

    Like Paniolo, I to is a Warrior fan. Been a fan since 1970. I would like to see the Warriors have a GREAT season from now on. I live in Boise, ID. and the only way to keep in tough with the Warriors by through the Media. GO B

  8. Uh4eva August 10, 2018 10:39 pm

    Solid coverage of the Warrior change. I hope it turns the team around. I think the new coaches are a serious upgrade from what we had in the past. Now if they can get an upgrade in performance on the field. I’ll be there at CSU game to cheer and support.


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