EAST LANSING - Blame it on Nehemiah Warrick.
The junior college transfer from Hutchinson Community College starting laying the wood on his offensive teammates in non-contact drills. While the coaching staff wasn't too thrilled about Warrick's antics, they noticed something happening. The entire defensive squad amped up their intensity and energy level.
Now the Spartans hope that intensity, energy level and pop carries over to the start of the season again Idaho. "We're stressing a lot of turnovers, a lot of big hits, and we don't want anybody to get a yard on us," said junior bandit SirDarean Adams. "We don't want you to breathe when you're on the field, because we're coming at you at 150 miles per hour. We're so aggressive; I love it."
Adams, who was briefly moved to safety, has returned to the position that he began to excel at a season ago and says the attitude of the player he calls "his best friend", Warrick (a fellow Bradenton, FL. native) along with experience and depth in the secondary has him hoping for big things in the win column for State.
"We have a swagger and a totally different attitude. Our secondary is a heck of a lot better. Greg Cooper is very proven at the corner, and Demond Williams has proved himself at the [opposite] corner. I proved myself at the bandit last year, and I expect a lot of big things from the defense this year. We're going to play one game at a time, and win one game at a time, and that's how we're going to play this year."
Cooper (GSN rating:69) moved from the free safety position to man the right corner, a position that better suits his skill level. Teaming with senior Demond Williams (GSN rating: 70) gives the Spartans a pair of corners with a lot of experience. But on the back line State is depending on two players without a lot of experience including Warrick who is trying to keep up with what the coaching staff is throwing at him.
"I'm coming along real well," said Warrick, the cousin of Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Peter Warrick. "I know all the plays, and I'm focused on that because as the season goes on, they're going to be putting more stuff in. They've been throwing a lot at me, hoping it sticks. Right now, I feel caught up and ready to move forward."
Warrick (GSN rating: 72) said that he didn't intend to stir things up with his hits, he was just doing what he has always done.
"I just came in and worked hard, and whatever happens, happens. I give 100 percent every play and take every opportunity I have out on the field and try to make a play," he said. "I just wanted to come here, work hard and try to make it into the playing rotation."
While Warrick brings a physical presence, sophomore Otis Wiley, (GSN rating: 67) who saw time as a nickel back a season ago, is the man on the spot at the critical free safety position. Wiley is responsible for getting his defensive teammates in the right positions on the field.
"Stepping up in the nickel formation, you've got to be the head man of the defense, give everyone the call, and be the main communicator on the field," Wiley acknowledged. "In order to be a leader, you have to be a follower first, so I'm still trying to follow and get to know the formations. Everything else is still being thrown at me, but I have to follow before I can lead."
He wants to do the thinking for the group and let his teammates be in position to fly around the field.
"We're just having fun out there, being a relentless defense, and having everybody trust each other, knowing that they're covering their spot and everybody has each other's back. Our unity is stronger on the defense, especially in the secondary."
The fun really starts for the group on August 26th when former NFL head coach Dennis Erickson brings a pass happy Idaho squad into Spartans Stadium. That's when the secondary's mettle will be tested and as coach John L. Smith has stated, MSU will only go as for as their defense takes them.
MSU's secondary believes they're ready to step up to the challenge.