Coaches Corner: Rick Smith

Our Josh Graham caught up with ECU defensive coordinator Rick Smith to discuss the performance of his defense and who stood out last Saturday against Southern Miss

Josh Graham: Who caught your eye during last Saturday's win against Southern Miss?

Rick Smith: "I'm going to tell you the guy that impressed me the most. I kept watching the film from Sunday, and this ‘Big Ol' No. 94 (Jonathan White) was just turning and running like a wild man.

"He's never done that consistently. But Jonathan White, if he ever decides to play hard every snap, he's going to be a great player. Saturday he was a factor and he played really well. Of course, they all did, but I noticed him because he hadn't done it before."

JG: After watching the game-tape, how did you grade the entire secondary's performance as a whole?

RS: "They are giving up fewer big plays, which is always good. I think Adonis Armstrong is playing as good as any corner I've ever coached. I mean, he's really playing well. He didn't play as well a couple plays against Tulane, but other than that he's played superb.

"Detric Allen has basically taken over that boundary corner position. He's a shutdown, man-to-man corner (and) he's doing a great job. He's a very intelligent young man.

"If you're on a list, if you don't go to study hall, if you don't go to class, if you don't go to weights, than you're probably not going to play for me. I've had my four starters stand out there the other day and (they have) never been on a list.

"I said I'll find four next year that have never been on a list. But no, the secondary is playing well. (Damon) Magazu is a great instinctive player. Adonis and Detric are playing really really well. Chip (Thompson) needs to keep playing well or he's going to get beat out by Michael Dobson. If (Dobson) had been there for four years, he would have been a draft pick. He's still learning."

JG: Some of the players and coaches have said that the team had more of an edge during the first bye week since it followed a loss and that this edge helped them improve greatly. Now coming off a win, how has your team looked at practice?

RS: "I think the defense right now has been really consistent from week to week, win or lose. We played lights out (at UNC) on defense and won that one. After Tulane, we lost that one, we came back and played lights out against Southern Miss. "So how do you counteract that? You tell them constantly ‘never underestimate your opponent (and) the only way you can achieve your goal is you play one play at a time, as hard as you can play for your teammates.'

"You have one right as a defensive football player and that is to expect the best out of your teammates on each and every single play. Therefore, if you expect them to give you their best, you should give them your best.

"You only get what you earn. You have to earn wins, they're all hard. No matter who you play."

JG: Damon Magazu has had an interception in each of the last three games. How impressed have you been of your free safety in your first season as defensive coordinator?

RS: "I've known Damon since he was five years old and I recruited him. He and I are really good friends, his family and I are really good friends. I hugged his mom, Carrier, after the game the other day and called his dad.

"Great family, he is great young man, (and) he is playing lights out. Just a wonderful kid, I couldn't ask more of him and he's does everything I ask and more. He is truly a leader. A vocal leader and a leader by example."

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