For LSU safety Ronald Martin, hard work finally paid off this season.
The sophomore from White Castle High School saw significant playing time at safety, and finished with 33 tackles and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. The 6-foot-1, 202 pounder explained that he realized quickly what he needed to improve in order to see the field early in his career.
Martin explained that one LSU staff member stayed on him early, and still does today.
"I have just been working hard in an effort to get on the field," Martin said. "My tackling had to improve a lot when I got here. I didn't really have to know that in high school because I mainly played quarterback. So, it was an adjustment.
"Coach [John] Chavis has really stayed on me and has told me a lot of things. He tells me to be a lot more physical in my tackling, just things like that."
While Martin explained that he improved enough to see the field, he still believes there is a lot of room for improvement in his play. He explained that he has maintained a mindset that nothing is set with his playing time, now or in the future.
"My tackling and my change of direction have improved a lot," Martin said. "I just have to work on tackling and being more physical. I have to watch film a lot to become even better. I want to be a better tackler because great defenders make open field tackles, something that is pretty difficult to do.
"I just have to keep working hard and stick with the mindset that I'm not the starter. I just keep working hard and get better every day at practice."
Martin also explained that it has been extremely beneficial to the entire team to have a few extra weeks of practice before the bowl game. He explained that the players have resources available to get better during this time, and all of them are taking advantage of it.
"We just have to work out and do extra running," Martin said. "That's what the coaches have stressed to us. This facility is open 24 hours, so we have to get in here and take care of our work.
"It has helped a lot. It has helped us get better and learn the defense a lot more in depth. We're covering stuff during these extra weeks that we didn't get to during the season."
With so much time to practice and review film, Martin said he now understands what was causing the miscues in the LSU secondary during the regular season. He also believes that the Tiger defense must play a near perfect game against a powerful Clemson offense.
"It was just the little things that we were doing wrong," Martin said. "We were focusing too much on other things. We just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in games sometimes.
"We just have to continue to do the little things better that we haven't done all year. We have to do them much better in this game."
Martin explained that the Clemson offense is very productive. He said speed is a big part of their game, however, Martin believes it won't be any different than what LSU has seen already this season.
"They are fast. But, they aren't anything that we haven't seen before this season," Martin said. "We just have to play like we usually do. Our defense just has to play fast and physical, and I think we will come out on top."
One area the Tigers will have to focus on more is the running threat of Tahj Boyd from the quarterback position. While it is an area of concern for the LSU defense, Martin believes that a quarterback from the SEC has already prepared the Tigers for any running threat from the quarterback position.
"We played Johnny Football [Manziel] and that was good for us to see," Martin said. "So really, it isn't anything we haven't seen before."
Martin on season and bowl game
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