Camp Focus: DBs

Secondary coach Greg Brown is looking to solidify his depth chart at cornerback and safety coming out of Saturday morning's scrimmage. Some of the spots are locked down, but some aren't – particularly backup positions at safety, where a couple of true freshmen may have an opportunity to contribute this fall.

Brown says he's pleased with the overall play of his unit going into Saturday's scrimmage, but there's still work to be done. While senior Terrence Wheatley is a lock as one starting cornerback, and junior Ben Burney has the inside track at the other, Brown will look to slot players at the No. 2 position on the depth chart — and nickel backs, too — Saturday.

Among the contenders are sophomore Chapelle Brown, junior Gardner McKay and redshirt-freshmen Jalil Brown and Jimmy Smith.

At safety, Ryan Walters is a lock at one spot, while senior Lionel Harris and junior D.J. Dykes are "neck and neck," Greg Brown said. Both have made plays in camp, and both bring different qualities to the table. All three of those players will play a lot this season, but Brown is looking for a fourth safety to solidify the position. That's where a true freshman has the chance to contribute.

Brown has liked what he's seen from a pair of Anthonys – Anthony Perkins and Anthony Wright. Both played with the ball in their hands in high school, and have shown some playmaking ability in camp. Perkins is a heady player who can quarterback a defense. Wright is a physical player with good instincts.

But both are extremely young in the offense, and at the position.

Focus Ryan Walters: The junior is quietly (unless you're a wide receiver or tight end he happens to target) having a solid camp.

Walters said after Friday morning's practice he thinks the defense is "leaps and bounds better than last year." It's something most of the defenders are saying. The reason — players are simply more experienced in the defensive system. Communication is MUCH improved, defenders are making the right calls, players are where they're supposed to be more often. They're not having to think as much, they're just reacting.

Walters also said there's a much better "buy in" in terms of attitude on the defense this camp.

They've always done this, but it appears there's a bigger emphasis on creating turnovers this camp. They want to get three per practice in 11-on situations. Getting better at stopping the offense in third down situations has also been an emphasis.

Walters has taken notice of the three true freshmen receivers, too. He teases them that the area he covers is the "no fly zone." But the receiver who's really stuck out to Walters this camp, he said, is junior Patrick Williams. Walters said Williams is playing better than he's seen him play.


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