Seriously though, the Mississippi State coach has a veritable buffet of talented cornerbacks to mix-and-match during preseason practices. A mostly-veteran group too with plenty of game experience and lots of big plays to their credit. Townsend’s trick now is demanding even better results from everyone in coverage and tackling. Because then Bulldog corner-men can have a 2014 feast.
So far in camp, Townsend said, “We’re doing a good job. We’re working, that’s always a great thing, guys in there competing with each other. And they enjoy being around each other. That’s the main thing that makes our group what it is. You know, the ability to go compete, but also know that you’re fighting for that person beside you.”
How different is a second fall for you with a veteran group? “Well that’s always good. Like I said last year reps is our best friend, and we got a lot of those during the season. I think our guys understand what my expectation is; they understand what I like to see and the effort that we look for in our group. And we play like what we talk about, that is the most important thing.”
With all the veterans did the group pick up where they left off in spring? “Well, we go work. One thing I talk to my guys about is nothing is etched in stone. What you did last year is last year. You’ve got to go out and prove yourself daily, weekly. That is the mindset I want my guys to have.”
Are Taveze Calhoun and Jamerson Love setting the pace you want in camp? “Yeah, I have a lot of good leaders. One thing about it, it’s not just those two. You’ve got the younger guys to see those two guys do it the right way, and they step up and lead also. Taveze, Will Redmond, Cedric Jiles, those guys do a great job leading our group.”
What do you see from Redmond for his role? “One thing now days is you’ve got to have four or five guys that can go out and play. I talk to my guys all the time that we (Townsend’s playing days) got in the huddle, we hit hands and said ‘break’. Nowadays we probably haven’t seen a huddle in five or six years! So those days are gone, you’ve got to have four deep where you can roll them in. It’s hard to play 80, 90 snaps which the offenses are trying to get in every game. So for us you’ve got to have good depth of guys that when they go in it’s not a drop-off. And we have that, we have a good situation right now.”
How do Jamerson and Taveze complement each other? “That’s the thing, Jamerson is such a natural athlete; a drill I want done he can do it exactly like you say. Taveze is the vocal leader of the group that he plays with his emotions and guys see it. That’s how they complement each other.”
”But both of them joke around the facility, which is good. But they work and that’s the most important thing.”
What improvements do you see from Redmond? “Oh, man, to see what he went through and still be mentally into the game is amazing. And he’s such a physical talent. He has good size, good speed. But he’s still hungry, he’s only played in six, seven games and been here two years. But he’s still right there, one of the guys that if he’s out there I’m not worried. That’s the thing about Will, the questions he asks of me in meetings are impressive. He wants to be a complete corner and that’s the good thing about it.”
Is he working purely at cornerback or is he working much at nickel? “Well, the rotation for us, we’re so multiple that he has a good role in that nickel position. You know, you can be out there on the field at any time. Everybody wants to be a star but the amount of snaps you get is the same amount as the guy beside you. So it doesn’t matter, it’s all about making plays when you get out there.”
What type of questions are you looking for from your guys? “Well just ins-and-outs. What is this guy doing beside me? What is his job, so I can make my job easier and not having to go here? Two and three splits what route are you thinking? Things like that that I can talk about with my guys. Recognizing when you line up what the offense is about to do. Those type of questions. And when you can line up and get a good pre-snap read what they’re about to do before it happens it makes you a better player.”
Fred Ross said in spring Redmond was the toughest corner to block, what makes him so tough? “He’s physical. He’s a physical player. He has no regard for his body at times, which is good and bad! But he’s that type of player. He’s just a good kid that wants to be a great player. He’s had some great guys before to see what a Slay and Banks and those guys lay the groundwork for what they can achieve while they’re here at Mississippi State.”
Love said he was disappointed with his tackle total last year? “And that’s a good thing. It’s a hard thing but one thing I talk about with our guys is how can you be one play better? Not only do I have to show them the good but I have to show them the bad. We look at some of the missed tackles we had, just imagine when we make those tackles this year how much better the team will be.
How do you improve the group’s run-stopping? “Just making it. It’s like when you’re up at-bat you’ve got to make the hit. For him it’s just the little thing, getting his head across, bringing his feet, just all technique and that’s one thing we’re working on now at the Farm.”
How do the freshmen look? “The thing for high school kids to come to college is everybody thinks they’re the best player ever. Then you get here and realize these guys are pretty dog-gone good! So it’s a learning curve. Chris Rayford, mentally he’s good. To learn the plays it happens so much faster than in high school. You have probably five defenses and you get here and put 15, 20 in the first install. So it’s a lot on your plate that you have to get acclimated with. But those guys will be fine. They can run, they’re big, they can catch. Those things you love to have and you get what you want out of them by coaching them the right way.”