BYU Shuffles Secondary with Heaney Injury

BYU's defensive secondary was put to its first test with a totally new defense against Georgia Tech, but now they prepare for a much stiffer battle against former BYU offensive coordinator <b>Norm Chow's</b> offensive Trojans of USC.

Sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart did not throw a single pass as a back up quarterback last season to USC's Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer. However, that didn't stop him from completing 17 of 30 passes against the highly touted Tigers of Auburn last Saturday.

With starting cornerback Brandon Heaney out with a season ending shoulder injury, 5-10, 180-pound Kat back James Allen was given the green light to move to the top of the depth chart.

"I'm starting. I'm playing safety. I think Chad (Barney) is taking over for Heaney," Allen said. USC receivers racked up 192 yards against Auburn's defense, with 6-5 All-American receiver Mike Williams' with eight receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown.

Commenting on USC's offensive arsenal, Allen said, "I think they're really good," noting he and his teammates are up for the Trojan challenge, "I love safety; the physical play," said Allen. "People can't really tell how physical I really am till I step onto the field, so that's the upper hand for me."

Another that will see more game time against USC at cornerback position is sophomore speedster Nate Soelberg. The 6-0, 170-pound, "Nate Soelberg is as fast as anyone. He's a good cover guy with speed."

Soelberg is coming to grips with the realization of what's ahead. "It's kind of humbling, right off the bat. It makes me have to mature more, play faster… Make sure I'm sound with my reads and key coverage," he said.

"That's the thing with Heaney out. He was one of the guys I like to watch and I learn from. So I'm just turning to Jernaro and (Chad) Barney to make sure I learn from them and just be ready. They've been really good mentors."

Soelberg said the unconditional support of his teammates has made the transition much smoother. "I've been lucky to have three really good seniors to look at," said Soelberg. "This is only my second year of corner and it's a pretty different adjustment from running forward to running backward. I just got to out there and tell myself mentally that I can play with these guys, and that's going to help too."

Manning the opposite side of the defensive secondary is Jernaro Gilford, who suffered a bone chip in his wrist during the Georgia Tech game.

"My hand's a lot better," said Gilford. "I chipped the bone right here but its cool now. I've got a lot more range of motion."

For him, little has changed in the secondary's preparation for USC.

"It's just polishing up. It's doing pretty much the same thing. We're not doing anything special were just doing the same old thing. Game plan and go out there and run hard, hustle on everything and run to the ball."

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