Saturday evening will be a work day for Mississippi State’s cornerbacks. And safeties. And linebackers, and…you get the idea. The #21 Bulldogs are squaring-off with #14 Texas A&M and their explosive offense.
So, Redmond and company have been at work all week. “Really it’s defend the pass more than defend the run. More passing reps in practice, just change the game(plan).”
Now don’t get the idea coordinator Manny Diaz is radically revising things. The Aggies thrive in the air but can pound the ground too. Also, don’t think cornerback Redmond will shy away from that kind of contact.
“Oh yeah, that’s our job. We stop the run, that’s our job as corners, too.” A job Redmond has done well for this three varsity seasons; and especially so in two previous collisions with Aggie offenses. Redmond has tallied 15 tackles in this rivalry already, and while most are after-catch stops he’s done his share of supporting too.
“But we work for the passing game. That’s what me and Taveze (Calhoun) and our safeties, we worked every day in the summer to stop the pass.”
This is a week for all the extra practice to pay off. Hopefully. Four Aggies already have double-digit receptions through four games, and Christian Kirk and Josh Reynolds have combined for seven touchdowns. The yards-per-grab by the whole group would be ridiculous if it weren’t scary.
Redmond isn’t afraid. Respectful, just not fearful. He and the secondary should also benefit from another sort of extra instruction; going against the first-team Bulldog offense back in August.
“I feel we’ve got one of the most talented groups in America when it comes to wide receivers. Being able to go against them guys, 7-on-7’s even to 1-on-1s, it prepares us for this game. I don’t think they have a receiver under 6-2, but our wide receivers are 6-4, 6-3. So we’re getting ready.”
Redmond is ready to make more plays himself. He has two of the team’s three interceptions so far, most notably the goal-line pick last week that stemmed early Auburn momentum. Maybe the Bulldogs would have won on the SEC road anyway, but Redmond’s forced turnover surely made the process smoother.
Not, he’ll admit, that Redmond looked so smooth in that same series. A floated pass coaxed him into jumping too soon, for a long Tiger play. Coach Dan Mullen said he was already celebrating what looked to be a sure pick-six.
“Yeah, I missed the first one,” Redmond said. “But when I came to the sideline Coach Mullen told me calm down, it’s going to come right back. I went out there the next play and got the next pick.” The smile as much as the words showed how much that play meant to Redmond.
Plays of that type also mean higher scouting status. This week analyst Todd McShay projected Redmond as a top cornerback pick in the 2016 draft.
“It means a lot to me,” said Redmond. “He’s been doing that a long time and knows what he’s doing. I mean, it’s early in the season. You never know what happens. So you can’t really just say too much. But thank you! That’s a good accomplishment.”
The real accomplishment of course will be hearing his name called in the first round. That would top what even Redmond’s predecessor Johnthan Banks achieved, as a second-rounder in 2012. The pair couldn’t play together as Redmond served NCAA penalties for all the freshman and half the sophomore season. But the relationship has continued and Redmond learned lots.
“I was around Banks a lot. How he handled the attention, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen how people come at him. It’s not a surprise to me, and I’ve handled it fairly well.” And now that Banks is a NFL regular, he provides more valuable counsel to the next Dog DB draftee.
“Just never take a day lightly,” Redmond said. “Each day is a day to get better. There’s always a guy for your spot, always somebody there. Always work every day.”