On Monday Jon Beason was moved to weakside linebacker on the first unit. He had been the strongside linebacker on the second-team during the spring and has played middle linebacker at times since switching to linebacker a year ago.
"The way they teach us the linebacker positions, everyone has to know what is going on," Beason said. "I felt good playing strongside, but I will play wherever they need me to."
"'You need me to play weakside, okay coach. You need me to play middle, okay coach.' We are just trying to win games around here," Beason said.
Beason began his career as a safety, but was moved to fullback early in fall practices after his arrival. He played in two games at fullback in 2003 before season-ending shoulder surgery. Instead of returning to fullback or safety after his injury, he was switched to linebacker prior to spring practices in 2004.
Last Thursday Miami held a mid-spring scrimmage at Traz Powell Stadium and Beason was one of the standouts. The coaches went back and looked at film to determine who was in on the most plays.
After studying the film it was determined that Beason was the top performer amongst linebackers. He was in on nearly one of every four plays and was rewarded by being moved up to the first unit this week.
Making plays is something linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves is stressing to the linebackers. He wants them to make plays and not just be in a certain spot doing their particular job. Playing assignment football is key, but when the play unfolds players must adapt. If the linebackers play with this mentality it could pay huge dividends for them in 2005.
"We just have to make more plays," Beason said. "Coach Hargreaves wants us to make every single play."
This spring the defense had had some very good days, but in order to be dominant they must work on their consistency.
"Defensively I think we have a lot of guys stepping up so far," Beason said. "I think as a group we have been good at times, but we need to be more consistent. We are getting a lot thrown at us (as far as schemes), but at the same time we are handling it pretty well."
It is clear to see by watching the Miami defense a year ago that their best football was played when they had an attitude on the field. They struggled when they appeared to lose their identity at times. It is important for this year's team to play with a passion and urgency on defense.
"We just have to learn how to play with swagger," Beason said. "We have to get after it every play and if we do that we will be fine."
Seven linebackers return from a year ago and are led by seniors Roger McIntosh and Leon Williams. McIntosh, Williams, and Beason all started at some point last year along with Glenn Cook, Romeo Davis, and Tavares Gooden. With six linebackers returning with starting experience position battles are constant.
Willie Williams, Willie Cooper, and Demetri Stewart are also competing for playing time at linebaker.
"Right now they have been switching people around to see where people fit in best," Beason said. "They are trying to find out what the best equation will be."
Another area the linebackers are working on improving this spring is their pass coverage skills. So far they have improved.
"I think if you compare it to last year it is a lot better now," Beason said. "We are great sometimes and all over guys knocking the ball down. We just to be more consistent. When we get to the point where we are just having fun, laughing, and hanging out--then we will be good."
Practice resumes today at 3 pm.
Christopher Stock is a Senior Writer & Assistant Editor at CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Beason on 1st Unit
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