- Cornerbacks -
The good: Live and learn the saying goes and the young cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes both learned a lot last year and that's good news for this year. Lewis has the biggest upside with a lanky athletic frame. He is also a very competitive player who strives for perfection. Brandon Hughes replaced Gerard Lawson five games into the season giving both valuable playing time.
Riley calls Lawson one of the toughest competitors on the team and he will receive another shot at a starting spot. Hughes showed better recovery speed than Lawson but overall the results were the same. Each is a frontrunner for the starting right corner position. Rickey Herod didn't play much during the season but made leaps and bounds in spring and fall practice and could jump into the two deeps when all is said and done. According to Riley Kellen Marshall was playing the best ball of his career at the end of the season after staying injury free.
Patrick Henderson will probably have to wait another year for playing time, but is an excellent athlete. JUCO transfer Coye Francies is expected to compete for a starting spot. Tim Clark and walk-on Ahmed Zarrugh will help out on special teams.
The bad: Despite several players with game experience no player has proved that they can hold down one side of the field. The Beaver defense relies on corners being able to play one on one. The corners as a whole need to get tougher at the line of scrimmage as well. A tougher mentality by all must be internalized everyone.
The question: Who will grab the starting right corner spot?
Riley says: “We started two freshmen last year in Lewis and Hughes. We have a real good talent base in this area, now we need these athletes to grow as players.”
- Junior Coye Francies
- led all California JUCO players with 11 interceptions
- Senior Kellen
Marshall - Riley said he was playing the best football of his career
at the end of last year
- Sophomore Brandon
Hughes - started the last seven games, decent recovery speed, but
out of position a lot
- Redshirt freshman Tim
Clark - redshirted last year
- Senior Rickey
Herod - will push for playing time
- Junior Ahmed
Zarrugh - walk-on with a long shot for playing time
- Junior Gerard
Lawson - started first four games of the year before being replaced,
22 tackles, one interception
- Sophomore Keenan
Lewis - started all 11 games making 45 tackles, fourth highest on
the team, set for a breakout year
- Redshirt freshman Patrick Henderson - superb athlete who could push for playing time
- Safeties -
The good: Sabby Piscitelli returns for his senior season after learning a lot about himself and his teammates in 2005. He tried to do too much exposing himself and enabling the Beavers' opponents to make big gains through the air. Now that he is comfortable with his teammates Piscitelli's play is sure to improve. Al Afalava provided a much need spark after appearing in the Arizona State game. He plays fast and gets to the ball carrier quickly. He still has a lot to learn and is a future all-Pac-10 performer.
Matthew Sieverson is a good athlete and some feel he is a difference maker if he can get on the field. Daniel Drayton has been in the program for a couple of years now and will make a run at the two-deeps. Bryan Payton has refocused his life both on and off the field. He is a tremendous athlete with a solid build.
The bad: There is a huge drop in talent from the starters to the backups. In addition to the talent drop none of the backups have played a down. If Piscitelli and Afalava get hurt the secondary would be very vulnerable to the pass.
The question: Who is going to back up Piscitelli and Afalava?
Riley says: “Sabby has been a solid player for us for a couple of seasons. He brings a lot to this team and is a terrific person to coach. Al showed a lot by earning the starting job last year. He has a real physical presence to him. He’s smart, he has a great feel for the game, and we’re expecting even better things from him this season.”
“Al showed a lot by earning the starting job last year. He has a real physical presence to him. He’s smart, he has a great feel for the game, and we’re expecting even better things from him this season.”
- Sophomore Austin Hall - walk-on with little chance at playing time
- Senior Sabby
Piscitelli - the leader of the defensive backfield, a good athlete,
- Junior Matthew
Sieverson - waiting in the wings for a couple of years, looking to
make the two deeps
- Sophomore Al
Afalava - one of the most exciting underclassman in the conference,
quick and superb football knowledge
- Sophomore Caleb Tommasini - walk-on with little chance at playing time
- Junior Daniel
Drayton - special team's standout with limited playing time in the
- Sophomore Bryan Payton - moved to safety in the fall of 2005, a good athlete with long arms but not so great recovery speed
Up next - Special teams