Last season, the defensive backs came under fire quite a bit.
A lot of it had to do with Justin Gilbert seeming to not play up to his expectations, while Shamiel Gary appeared to struggle in pass coverage.
Coach Glenn Spencer dismissed it as a unit breakdown a few weeks ago, and not just one guy, but it was obvious that the two didn't play up to their expectations last season, which means they also didn't play up to the fans expectations as well.
This season, all we've heard is that the tide has seemed to turn, and the first man in charge of that is their coach, DB's expert Van Malone. Malone is a recruiting guru who wrecks shop in Texas, and we finally got to sit down with him today for the first time this season.
Here's a quick check up on what he's seen, the spot that Brodrick Brown left vacant this offseason, and what some of his expectations are.
Haven't gotten to talk to you in awhile, coach. How is fall camp going? What have you seen that you like, and what still needs some work?
I tell you what, one of the things we wanted to do going into this fall is compete a little bit better, even more so than the spring. So far our guys have done that. We were in a position the last couple of days where the receivers kind of got the best of us. It goes back and forth, and it motivated my guys to say 'Okay, now it's our turn.' We're trying to achieve a level of consistency, and it starts with a level of aggression, starting with the cornerbacks and moving inside to the safeties.
We talked to Shamiel at media day, and he opened up about what he's wanting to work on, with the biggest one for him being his pass coverage. What have you seen from him so far?
So far, he's done a great job. Between him and (Daytawion Lowe) at those safety spots, both of those guys have a high level of talent and ability in man coverage. Really, Shamiel more then D-Lowe, is in a position where he's in man-to-man more. At times last year, he was matched with wide receivers. A wide receiver on a safety is not often a good match. But like you said, he's trying to make sure it's not a mismatch.
You have the hole after last season that came open after Brodrick Brown and now you have Kevin stepping into it. There are a few other guys there, what's the update on that competition?
So far, starting in the spring we gave Kevin the opportunity to step into that role, but like I told those guys a couple of days ago, it's a constant competition. Justin Gilbert's one of the most talented guys on the defense and the team, but he even understands that no job is safe. So it's been a constant competition, but so far Kevin has done well. Ashton Lampkin is right behind him, as well as Tyler Patmon, who transferred in from Kansas, he's done a good job. As a coach, for me to see these guys competing and have the hope that there is true competition within the group, that's exciting.
Where are your guys at with the approach from a schematics standpoint. In the spring, I was surprised with how tight to the line they played on a few plays.
A lot has been said about that, and it will continue to be said. You can't press them every play, and you can't play off and soft every play. The biggest adjustment for us is that we are really mixing it up more. A lot has been said about our aggression, up towards the line of scrimmage. That's what we want to do, we want to be aggressive when given the opportunity to. Our line has done a great job of rushing the passer, so if you can get up and squeeze those receivers and you have guys doing a great job of pressuring the quarterback, you really give yourself a chance. We're excited about where we are right now.