Dustin Mouzon kind of shurgs off the poor performance he had last spring as one of those things.
The senior cornerback, who started last year and played admirably most of the time, just had a slump, he says, and that is that.
That happens to the best players, but the difference in Dustin's slide was that he faltered in front of a new staff, a staff developing all-important first impressions.
"I was down a little bit in spring, but then I realized nothing is given to you and I was going to have to find the ingredients that got me to the starting spot in the first place. That meant to work harder, like I always had," Dustin analyzed. "Spring kept me humble, for sure.
"I just had a slump and wasn't playing my best. I wasn't consistent. I was making little mistakes that resulted in giving up big plays."
Just two or three days into August camp, however, the lights came back on for Dustin.
"I feel a lot more comfortable now and I started making plays and limiting my mistakes," he explained.
But the competition is still stiff with the coaches moving former WR Marshay Green and former RB Jeremy McGee to the defensive side of the ball and specifically to corner.
"It's going real well now with all of us. The coaches have created competition there, which makes us all better, and we think we now have good depth at the position where we can put in some different guys and not feel like the quality of play is going to drop," he said of the corner positions as a whole. "I'm not surprised Marshay and Jeremy are doing well. They bring a lot of intensity to the table.
"Both of them compete 100% every snap and that made me compete even harder. It's the whole competition thing and that helps all of us if we accept it in the right way, which we are now doing."
Another facet of Dustin's presence has also emerged in fall that wasn't there so much in spring - leadership. Dustin was struggling so much with his own situation in spring that it was difficult for him to lead. Now that his play has stabilized, he's more comfortable in that role.
"The young guys are put into something that's naturally going to be over their heads real quickly. There's really no other way to do it than to throw them in there and let them learn on the run," Moo noted. "As a senior, I want to be a mentor to them. Sometimes you just have to tell them to slow down. Sometimes you have to tell them to pick it up. I do what I can to help them get comfortable and encourage them. All the older DBs do."
Mouzon said the corners are not really being used any differently than in the past. Man coverage is man coverage and zone is zone, to a certain extent.
"We have learned some new techniques and disguises, but we are still playing man and zone," he continued. "We are all trying to learn both sides as well. It makes us, as a unit, more versatile. If someone gets hurt or needs a rest, someone else can jump in there regardless of left or right corner and hold down the position.
"There's a little difference. The boundary corner gets to blitz more, and I like that, but I'm playing field corner now so I'm basically just playing routes. I do like to blitz though."
Dustin understands the importance of his position and doesn't take the responsibility lightly.
"You can mess up as a lineman or linebacker and someone can cover for you. At corner, you can lose games quickly. One big play over you and a win can turn into a loss," he stated. "In spring, I just pushed things too hard and tried to make plays that really weren't there and it caused me to give up big plays."
Mouzon said the recent rash of injuries has been frustrating, but he thinks things will work out for the best.
"It can get frustrating, especially when some older guys go down, but most of them are expected back and hopefully we can avoid any more injuries between now and the season opener," said Dustin, who put on 10 needed pounds in the offseason.
Mouzon saw his share of "frustration" in spring training with sub-par, for him, performances.
With that apparently behind him, he's ready to close out his Rebel career on a high note.
"All of us are on the same page. We want to win - period," he closed. "I intend to do my part to help us reach a higher level and win."
Dustin Mouzon update -
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