Yes, the defensive coordinator, Bud Foster, is the same as it’s been the last 20 seasons. But even with a few familiar faces on defense, like Brandon Facyson and Chuck Clark in the secondary, or Woody Baron and Nigel Williams on the defensive line, what’s being asked is a bit different.
Foster has evolved and made adjustments, as any coach does. And even those who have been in the program for a few years have noticed the differences.
Facyson, for one, had a breakout freshman season in 2013, though he’s been limited by injury the past two seasons. Now healthy, he acknowledged that his role has changed, even though he’s still at cornerback.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much goes into it, especially when it comes to scheme,” Facyson said. “Freshman year definitely was a little bit easier than it is now. They’re asking a lot more of all of us, not just me. We seem to be doing well with it, we’ve just gotta keep working every day.”
More responsibility hasn’t just fallen on the veterans, however. And redshirt freshman defensive tackle Tim Settle is a good example.
The No. 138 player in the 2015 Scout300, Settle redshirted last season in part because his weight had reached over 350 pounds. Now listed at a svelte 328 pounds, he’s still hoping to shed a few more pounds. But his confidence and newfound endurance could allow him to have a much bigger role this season, even behind players like Baron and Williams.
“I think I can stay in there for six plays, but I don’t know about seven,” Settle said with a grin. “I feel best I’ve ever felt playing football seriously, like high school, freshman year, all the way to now. It’s the best shape I’ve ever been in.
“I know all the plays. That’s the main thing, just looking at it like there’s so many plays, but I know all of ‘em. That was a big goal for me. I don’t have any more trouble with the plays.”
Check out the video above for interviews with Settle, Facyson, Baron, Terrell Edmunds, Greg Stroman and Vinny Mihota.