In charge of the linebackers, Etheridge has the opportunity to coach a pair of Auburn commitments in the game, Darrell Williams from Hoover and Richard McBryde from Charles Henderson in Troy. Part of a group of talented players at the position this week, the veteran coach said both guys stand out when you look at them on the field.
“They are great players, it’s easy to coach guys like that,” Etheridge said. “They get to the ball fast. They’ve got good size. They cover a lot of ground real fast. They are very, very athletic and great in pass coverage. They’re the full deal.”
One of the biggest challenges this week is getting a plan together on offense and defense in a short period of time. That started on Monday with the team getting to Montgomery for the check-in and a short meeting. Hitting the field for the first time on Tuesday morning the Alabama team will have six practices to get ready for the game on Saturday. Even with a short week Etheridge said Williams and McBryde have both gotten themselves ready to play.
“They’ve adapted great,” Etheridge said. “They limit you want you’re doing here. They are playing a lot of different positions, the mike and the will and also the drop-end. Both of those guys are doing a fantastic job. Williams is one of those kids who can play a lot of different places. I think we’re going to get a lot out of them in those game. I think both will have big games. We can play man-to-man and play zone because both of them have such great length and do a good job of getting to the ball.”
Length is one of the keys for the four-star Williams. Playing outside in Hoover’s scheme this season, the physical Williams sometimes wound up in coverage down the field in passing situations. That versatility is a strength said Etheridge because, combined with his size, it makes the big linebacker a player that can fit in any defense.
“He could be a kid that could play that Jack linebacker or outside linebacker, but could even roll down and play a strong safety, and could even play the will linebacker because he has the size,” Etheridge said. “He’s got great instincts and is just a pleasure to be around. He’s got a great attitude, smiling all the time, and having fun. When he gets out there on the field he’s focused and takes coaching. That’s the biggest thing about him.”
A three-star linebacker prospect that is also very versatile, McBryde doesn’t have the size of Williams, but is a sure tackler that can make plays from sideline to sideline. Versatile enough to play outside or inside on the next level, Etheridge sees a player that will be a tough one to keep off the field when he adds size and strength on the Plains.
“I think he’s going to be a kid that really is a physical kid,” Etheridge said. “Like Darrell he’s got good length too. I’m used to playing with those smaller guys so it’s great to have those big guys. He’s a kid that really gets to the ball too. I think he’s better inside and he’s a thumper. He’s one of those kids that fills the hole and goes 100 miles per hour. He’s one of those kids that hits you and jars the ball loose.”
Two of the players Auburn fans should keep an eye on Saturday, Etheridge said both linebackers have been a joy to coach this week. While he predicts big things for them on the field in the future, he said this week he’s been just as impressed by how they carry themselves.
“You have great players, but sometimes they don’t take coaching,” Etheridge said. “They aren’t those types of guys. They take the coaching and they listen to everything you say. They get out here and practice hard and I’m sure they’re going to get out there and play hard on Saturday. Auburn is getting two great players.”