Daniel proving he's exceptional

Coach Howell glowed about Robertson Daniel, claiming he knew what he was getting when he signed him. Coach Mendenhall knew they would be getting a great player as well. However, they probably didn't know they were getting the type of player who would become a major part of the defense's success so soon and in so many ways.

Following BYU's 31-14 victory over Utah State last Friday, a peculiar stat revealed that a certain player within the Cougar defense made a significant contribution to the outcome of the game. Robertson Daniel recorded the second-most tackles on the team while also forcing a fumble.

"I love supporting the run because I'm actually a safety, so every time I get the opportunity I'm going to stick my hand in there," Daniel said.

On Monday Coach Mendenhall gave glowing comments on Daniel's quiet performance against Utah State.

"He's a great tackler," said Coach Mendenhall. "We knew he would be strong in coverage, but I didn't know we would be getting the tackler that we would be getting, and I've been really impressed. When you're talking about a guy that I didn't know would be playing field corner, number one, and then be playing every snap, man, he's really helped us."

While his whopping 10 tackles against the Aggie offense is impressive, Daniel knows he still has room to improve when it comes to defending one key aspect of the passing game.

"Just be more aware of quick game, you know?" Daniel said. "In the beginning of the game, like the first couple of plays, I gave up a couple of plays in the quick game, which I need to get better on."

His next challenge will be facing the triple-option attack of Georgia Tech, a team known for forcing defenders to play undisciplined.

"When you're playing corner out there in the triple option, you have to be focused all the way," said Daniel. "Because, you know, they'll give six, seven runs in a row and then all of a sudden it will be play action deep. All they need is that one play to change things against our team."

Having watched film on Georgia Tech, Daniel has seen sophomore quarterback Vad Lee do just that.

With that being the case, the scheme puts a tremendous burden on the cornerbacks to stay focused and not get complacent, thinking every play is a running play. The cornerbacks have to read their keys quickly and then attack the play based on those early reads.

"My keys are to read the tackle," Daniel said. "If the tackle blocks down, it's a run – head goes up, it's a pass. You have to then read from tackle to quarterback back to my receiver."

Considering himself more of a safety and having that hitting and tackling mentality, Daniel knows there will be an opportunity this Saturday to make a lot of plays in the run game like he did last week against Utah State. However, he can't get caught being too aggressive against the run.

"Just be focused," he said regarding what he needs to do against Georgia Tech. "That's the number one thing: just be focused. I have to keep my eyes on my keys and play the best football I can and help in run [support]."

Over the course of his short Cougar career, Daniel has gone from safety to boundary corner to field corner due to the rash of injuries that plagued the Cougar secondary. He's taken the place of Jordan Johnson and has had to man-up opponents' best receivers, and has done a great job for the most part. Against Utah State, seven of Daniel's 10 tackles were solo tackles. Still, he is not pleased with his performance.

"No," Daniel quickly said. "I'm not pleased at all actually. I feel like I should get my hands on more balls, and the interceptions have to start coming around sooner or later."

What about sooner rather than later?

"Yeah, definitely sooner rather than later," he said while smiling.

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