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The Secondary

August 28, 2010

There is no way to sugarcoat it, so I’ll just say it.  Barring a miracle, the secondary will be a liability this year.  I give the coaching staff credit for moving to a 3-3-5 defense to try to maximize the production from the front 6, while minimizing the damage the secondary can cause. 

With the dismissal of Boubocar Cissoko, the transfer of JT Turner, and the early NFL Draft entry of Donovan warren, things were already bleak at the corner position.  But the coaches said they were very comfortable with returning starters Troy Woolfolk and J.T. Floyd, and so up until a month ago, I was pretty optimistic.  Woolfolk, a senior, was ready to be the #1 corner, and Floyd could handle the #2 duties – if they could stay healthy, we could be alright.   Unfortunately, that plan went up in flames when the evil secondary hating god broke Woolfolks ankle and lower leg, and put him on the sidelines for the season.   What this means is that Floyd will be our #1 cornerback, and an unknown will start at the other corner position.  The candidates right now are true freshman Cullen Christian, converted running back/slot receiver Teric Jones, and senior James Rogers.  As of today, the inside track goes to Rogers, but I expect whomever is there to struggle, and for multiple players to get a shot.

The problems at corner wouldn’t be so scary if the safety situation wasn’t such a question mark.  In this defense, there really are 3 safeties – free, strong, and a “spur” position that plays closer to the line of scrimmage.  At the free safety spot, the projected starter is former wide receiver Cameron Gordon.  Gordon switched to safety in the spring, and showed lots of promise, and has continued that momentum into the fall.  He’s fast, and willing to hit people.  With more experience, he could be very good. 

The strong safety will likely be manned by former walk-on Jordan Kovacs.  Kovacs was a surprise contributor last year.  He has a nose for the ball and is a solid tackler, but lacks true athleticism.  Last year he played at free safety too, which wasn’t a strength for him.  In run support, Kovacs will be great, but he needs to improve against the pass for us to be a successful defense.   While Kovacs is the incumbent, don’t be surprised to see true frosh Marvin Robinson get playing time as well.  He is an athletic freak, and as soon as he can handle the game mentally, will be on the field. 

The final safety position is the “spur” spot.  The hybrid linebacker/safety position was a great fit for Stevie Brown last year, and there is stiff competition to replace him this fall.  Thomas Gordon got the nod in the spring, but true freshman Carvin Johnson was listed atop the depth chart when it was put out on Monday.   Walk-on Floyd Simmons is also in the mix at “spur”, but if freshman Carvin Johnson is as good as the practice reports, he may start here for the next 4 years. 

Without much depth in the secondary, we need to stay healthy in order to even be adequate.  If J.T. Floyd gets hurt, things will get ugly, and in an hurry, as there really isn’t any other viable cornerbacks to turn to.  At safety, Vlad Emilien will also get playing time, and if Cameron Gordon struggles in games, Vlad may get the nod at free safety. 

Overall, this is by far the weakest unit on the team.  That being said, there are some very talented athletes in the secondary, especially among the incoming freshmen.   With some good coaching and some breaks along the way, the unit might be serviceable. 

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