Ben Love: What's your reaction coming off that Auburn game? Was it maybe a little closer than you thought it would be?
Tharold Simon: Yeah, it was a lot closer than I think a lot of people expected, but we knew going into it that they would give us their best. It was a wake-up call. We just had a bit of a big head, I guess. But now we know we can't take any team lightly. For us, the fans, everybody, it was a wake-up call. We need to eat some humble pie and stay humble and just go out and play each team like they're the best team we're playing all year.
BL: How would you grade the secondary's performance in that game, your first SEC game this season?
TS: I'll give us probably a B-plus. We didn't do too bad, just some miscommunication on a few things. Other than that, I think we covered everything well, did a lot of things well, but we still have to work on some stuff. Communication is the big part.
BL: Do you take on a little more this year now that you're the No. 1 cornerback and there are some younger guys who look to you?
TS: It is an added responsibility. I try and help tell them what to do, teach them how to come out and play, get them ready before the game and get them pumped up. I take them aside and tell them ‘You're not playing against any little boys anymore. This is big-time. One mistake can change your whole year.' And then they go out and make plays in that backfield. It's really whatever I can do to help us play well and not make any mistakes.
BL: Talk to me about Jalen Mills. He had maybe some of his first negative experiences this season against Auburn. Miles was on him pretty hard about the special teams penalty. How do you see him responding in practice and what do you think about where he's at?
TS: He's responding well. We all told him not to let that get to him. Miles is the head coach. He's supposed to do that type of stuff. I told him don't let that get to you. We've got a big game this week, so I told him we've just got to get out here and practice. It's all about playing football. That other stuff will pass.
BL: You feel comfortable with him on that other side? Even though he's a guy who is in his first year?
TS: Oh yeah. You've got to feel confident about somebody else (in that position). He hasn't shown me anything yet that makes me think, ‘Oh, we might need somebody else.' He's been doing his job. As long as the coaches stay on him and as long as I stay on him, and keep preaching to him about how serious it is, he's going to do what he's got to do.
BL: The last two games at safety, opposite Eric Reid, you guys have had some Ronald Martin back there and some Craig Loston. Do you think it'll take both playing there the rest of the year to get the best out of that strong safety position?
TS: Both of them are good players. I think the coaches are just working both of them out right now to see who fits in certain situations, like our Mustang package, our base package, our nickel package. I think that's what they're working on.
BL: So you do predict that both of them will continue playing a good bit?
TS: Yeah. I predict that. Both of them will get playing time. They're both good safeties, and doing what they have to do to impress the coaches. And the coaches are switching them out a lot in practice in different situations. I know Ronald's ready. He comes out and makes his calls, makes his checks, just like Craig comes out and makes his calls, makes his checks. But Ronald is definitely ready.
BL: You mentioned earlier that Auburn was a wake-up call. Does this team still feel the same as it did coming into the season? I know the way that game went was a bit stunning, but all of your goals at the end of the season are still attainable.
TS: We feel great, still confident, but at the same time it was a wake-up call. Not to be shooting at our offense, but we have to wake them up, too, and tell them: ‘Let's go. It's time to do what we came here to do. We all need to go hard. Y'all are better than what's going on out there on the field. Y'all show us every day in practice.' So we really just all need to come together and make this thing happen.
BL: Has there been any talk about the Florida game yet from the coaches? Are they allowing you to start preparing for that a little or is it all just Towson?
TS: I mean, you probably hear things here and there about Florida, but not too much. After practice today, we talked about preparing for Towson and the rest of the year. We know what the rest of the season brings – Florida, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Bama and everybody. But we're preparing for Towson. And today, the offense had a great practice. I think it was a better practice than the defense had.
BL: You keeping up and staying in touch with Tyrann [Mathieu] now that he's back on campus?
TS: Yeah, I see him a lot. We probably chill almost every day after practice. He stays right there, around the corner from me. So I'll go chill with him or he'll come chill with me. We talk a lot.
BL: What's his mood been like? How's he feeling?
TS: He's feeling good. He's the same old Tyrann that I've been knowing. He's changing his ways to become a better person, but at the same time, since he first got here (as a freshman) and even since he's been back, he's the same guy – the same funny guy, entertaining.
BL: Does he talk to you about whether or not he would like to be on this team next year?
TS: Uh huh. (Smiling big) He talks about it. He's always sending me messages, encouraging me, telling me what to do before the games. He tells me you've got a few chances to go make plays, so take advantage of them. He's still on-task with me. But, yeah, I definitely keep up with him, and he keeps up with me.
Q & A: Tharold Simon
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