Wednesday, we caught up with the junior during a conference call with reporters. Here is some of what he had to say:
On playing with more confidence this year:
A defensive back has got to be long on confidence and short on memory. My confidence is very high. I've been working hard all offseason, watching film with my teammates and just taking coaching and trying to get as much help as I can.
On the UMass offense:
I think UMass, their advantage is they run a lot of formations and they have a lot of athletes. No. 1 (WR Tajae Sharpe), he's one of their quarterback's favorite targets. I had the honor to play with Alex Kenney, he was a great athlete for us. I think they're gonna come in here with a competitive attitude.
On why he is playing better this year than last:
I would just say experience just a lot more experience. Different coaching techniques, a lot more film study. Just being more comfortable with the position through offseason workouts and things like that. Practicing harder and harder each day, and just learning from my mistakes and going to my coaches, asking what I can do better to help the team. Just going to guys like Jordan Lucas and Adrian Amos to work on my technique.
I always try to keep my confidence high. Experience just wasn't on my side. That's the difference between last year and this year.
“I always try to keep my confidence high. Experience just wasn't on my side. That's the difference between last year and this year.”
On what he meant by taking coaching better:
Just understanding what the coaches want. I think I'm learning more.
On how new position coach Terry Smith has helped him develop:
He's a great guy. I think Coach Smith actually cares about the relationship that he has with his players. Sometimes, it doesn't just have to be about football. He might want to know what's going on in your personal life. I think that helps the chemistry with the defensive backs. Also, he's been a player at Penn State, so he knows what it's like to wear that uniform and play in Beaver Stadium.
On the all-around solid play of the secondary this year:
I just think this year we may be more loose, more confident. We're having a lot of fun out there competing. That sums it up right there.
On the energy level Jordan Lucas brings to the defense:
Yeah, Jordan, his energy is contagious for the entire defensive backfield. He gets us riled up and pumped up before the game. He's a great leader for the secondary. Just a hell of an athlete and a hell of a person.
On defensive coordinator Bob Shoop:
Coach Shoop is definitely one of the smartest coaches I've been around. It gets annoying, because he'll repeat the same thing over and over. But it helps us out a lot. At times it may feel tedious, but he knows the game of football inside and out, and we can trust his calls and judgment. I take my hat off to Coach Shoop.