Coach D Talks Defense

Saturday's scrimmage showcased a vivacious defense that was having fun and showing us that UM's defense is more alive this year. With all the changes at linebacker, Denzel Perryman returning and the freshman standout Alex Figueroa possibly starting, Coach D has a lot to talk about with the defense.

Q: Can you evaluate the defensive side of Saturday's scrimmage?
A: I think we did a lot of good things as a group. I think certain guys played better than others. Right now we are still in the phase that we are evaluating individuals. We tried to get the current one group, try and get as many reps together to see where we are at. But at the same time, you try to get the two and threes going in there against the ones, so that you have them going against the best competition. Overall I thought we did some good things. It was really a situational scrimmage. It's early in spring and we're really getting a lot done. I'm impressed with the coaching group and where they're heading.

Q: What's your impression on Alex Figueroa and his performance?
A: He's got real maturity about him, and he works hard, and he's coachable. So, you can coach him during a practice, and he'll correct. He's hard enough on himself, and he takes his mistakes personal. So a guy like that is fun to coach. He's been steady so far. He's made some MEs and that's natural. But right now he's a freshman on his eighth practice and he's basically running our whole defense.

Q: Do you think he has the potential to start right away?
A: Yeah. I think especially if you can get a kid now, in mid-year, they have a head start. He's got the off season program, the spring ball now, the summer conditioning program – we can't coach them then, but the guys will be coming out here running 7 on 7 and doing drills. The best chance of success with a freshman is when it slows down for them, and when they come in mid-year, they don't have much time for it to slow down for them.

Q: Hurns said that Antonio Crawford is the most improved player on the defense. Can you talk a little bit about him?
A: I think he's just been locked-in. Antonio had some really good practices in fall camp, where he made some pretty big plays and a few interceptions. He has the ability to go get the football. He's instinctive. He's a good football player. He's not mechanical. He can make the play. He understands when to make a play and when not to. He hasn't had a bad practice. He's continuing to get better.

Q: What players have shown some improvement from last year to spring?
A: When you think of improvement, you always want to think of young players. But I think the guys who are seniors for us now, Jimmy Gaines and Rayshawn and Shayon Green, those are the guys that continue to come out here and play hard and continue to improve everyday. Some of the other guys, like Chickillo, continue to work hard and improve. I'm excited about what those guys have done and the leadership that they are providing. Olsen Pierre is guy who continues to impress and improve. So we're starting to get that [improvement] from some of the guys that have been around.

Q: Can you talk about why you moved Tyriq McCord to linebacker?
A: Yeah, just looking at our team and getting the best guys on the field. He's got nice limbs for a Sam linebacker. He was a little underweight last year playing defensive end. We thought we would take a look at him there, based on our current situation. Three of our guys that played Sam linebacker last year are either injured or left the team last year, so that was something that we had to address here in the offseason and in recruiting. Tyriq was the guy we made a decision to look at, and it looks like it's going to be a good move.

Q: You had about seven sacks on Saturday. Do you see that there is an improvement in the pass rush?
A: Yeah, I think there is improvement. I think some of it was pressure generated and, in all fairness to the offense, they had three guys in the line that are second team.

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