Which the Bulldog defensive coordinator was following Saturday’s practice session as bowl camp picks up its pace. A dominating second half showing in the Egg Bowl victory can do that for a unit and its coach. But Sirmon also pointed to other regular-season games, rather halves of games, where the Dog defense showed what it is capable of.
Now with a few days to just practice themselves, not worry about gameplanning or installation or anything but themselves, Sirmon wants to see consistency. Oh, as well as what a number of younger pups who either saw limited live action the last three months or redshirted entirely can do ahead of 2017 spring ball.
How are you approaching bowl camp on the defensive side? SIRMON: “Right now it’s a good opportunity for some of the young guys to get out of scout team mode, and get back into the developmental mode. And these guys right now, we’re telling them you’re competing for your spring spot and ultimately how this whole thing is going to shake out this fall.”
“So it’s important for them to treat this not as a competition, who is going to be playing. But to look at it as a way of hey, this is something the coaches are evaluating. And right now it’s a good opportunity for me to see how the guys have progressed from the last time that we really saw them do a lot of work at the end of training camp.”
In the Egg Bowl what was the difference that second half? “I think the guys made some plays. When the ball was in the air I think we made some plays. The fourth down stop was huge, Leo Lewis, it was a fourth-and-one. We tightened-up and cleaned-up, we had two miscommunication errors in coverage that just can’t happen. We have two players standing right next to each other, to have a miscommunication there.”
“So I eliminated some calls, and then we just tightened-up some of the communication, the guys came out and played well the second half.”
Is cornerback Jamal Peters’ new home? “I think Jamal, we’ve got to keep developing him at corner. I think he could play anywhere in the back end. The one play, the interception in the end zone with his length, that was one of those things that’s tough to coach. He had his hands on the ball a little bit earlier in the game in the middle of the field; we’d love to see him make that play.”
“But I want to keep bringing Jamal along at that corner position and see if he can’t develop into a player that can be a shut-down type of guy.”
Where is he in that development? “I think he’s still an infant. He’s developed within the season, that doesn’t happen very often. Because as you guys know he missed a substantial amount of camp, he didn’t come back until extremely late in camp. And then we moved him from safety to corner.”
“So he’s kind of been trial-by-fire of getting his game reps, and in a little bit of good-on-good. But he hasn’t gone through an off-season, he hasn’t gone through spring ball or training camp with getting that time with Coach Buck (Terrell Buckley).”
Who are redshirts you expect to get a good look at this week? “Korey Charles. Erroll (Thompson). Kobe (Jones), Tre (Brown), C.J. Morgan. A lot of those types of guys. Some of them have been here obviously in training camp. But that’s the next step for them, kind of like I said see where they left off and see where they’re progressed to this time.”
“And then we’ll get in I don’t know how many more, we’ll get another three or four real solid spring-type practices before we go into game-time mode.”
Is Cam Dantzler able to go through drills? “I think he’s still coming back from that injury.”
You had a lot of intensity the second half of the Egg Bowl, have you seen that carry over? “Just in preparation? Yeah, obviously you’re not going to be able to get that kind of energy in practice all the time. But the more we play with consistent enthusiasm the better we’re going to be.”
“And that’s something that collectively we as coaches have to keep learning how to motivate and inspire. Which I think it goes under-appreciated in college football, how as leaders to inspire and motivate these guys every day to come out and to compete and give them something to work for. So those guys have got to meet us half-way in some of those situations. And we’ve got to continue playing with good effort every time we come on the field.”
You had a couple of seniors in Will Coleman and Jonathan Calvin on outside, who do you see replacing them? “Well, we’re right in the middle of recruiting. So some of that will be filled from that area. Marquiss Spencer has to be a guy that continues to develop. Traver (Jung) has played some outside for us, and played a little more stand-up outside linebacker in the boundary. But he’s played both sides.”
“We’ve got some guys we have to continue to develop. And then obviously the d-line candidates, we have to develop people that can rush the passer and we have to recruit people that can rush the passer.”
We saw Gerri Green tip a pass and Brandon Bryant pick it, is that the kind of defense you’ve been seeing all year that maybe hasn’t been seen on the playing field? “You know, what we see on the field is those guys playing at a high level. That’s why every week when we have our media talk it’s sometimes we see great play; and sometimes we see play that’s a head-scratcher. I think I’ve probably used the word consistency of performance every week. And when we do things well it’s the second half of Ole Miss, the second half of LSU, it’s South Carolina, it’s the first half of the season-opener.”
“There’s stretches that we play excellent football. And there’s stretches that we don’t play anywhere near that. That’s been the frustration and that’s been the challenge all year of consistency of performance. And I tell the guys if you can do it one time, what prevents us from doing it multiple times."