University of Louisville defensive coordinator Mike Gillhamer recently spoke with ITV about his defense, the youth in the secondary and freshman standouts as he prepares them for their first test at Kentucky this Sunday on the road.
ITV: Well, it's game week. How do you feel the defense is responding?
Gillhamer: I think they are responding well. With the first game you still have the little questions and you're not sure how they're going to play and how much more we need to improve, but we're getting the effort out of the players and that's what you need to have.
Gillhamer: I'm counting on them to be big playmakers. They did a great job over the summer and have done a great job so far in camp running around and making plays. [We need] them to stay in there for long stretch of time and make plays.
ITV: How's Antoine Harris' transition from offense to corner been?
Gillhamer: Antoine is just getting better everyday. He's at the point now of just being an inexperienced corner and just making the mistakes now that comes with inexperience. We've just got to keep working with him. He's got real good speed. I think he's strong and he's got real good anticipation. Right now he's just thinking too much because it's all new to him.
ITV: Gavin Smart is another corner who made the transition from offense. How do you feel about his play right now?
Gillhamer: Gavin has really improved one hundred percent but he had spring to go through and you can tell the difference between a new player that has played spring ball as opposed to one that didn't.
ITV: Talk about the unity of the secondary.
Gillhamer: They really like each other. They all worked hard during the summer and I think that because everybody stayed around during the summer that they all bonded together and that's what we wanted to have. There's a lot of talk about them being young, but there's nothing you can do about...you just have to let them go out there and play.
ITV: Bobby Leffew recently returned to the practice field. What's his presence mean for the defense?
Gillhamer: It's a real plus to have him out there because he has experience. He understands blocking schemes and having a vet like that has been a real positive.
ITV: How is he moving around out there in your opinion?
Gillhamer: Not as good but he's out there. He's out there doing it and he'll get nothing but better now.
ITV: Talk about some of the freshman that standout to you on defense.
Gillhamer: Well, we've moved Malik back to strong safety, we'd didn't leave him at MIKE. We really like William Gay at corner, he's done a really good job. Brandon Sharp may have a shot to contribute. Okoye's doing a great job on the defensive line. And then Derionte Taylor's doing a heck of a job at WILL.