Finally got an opportunity to talk to defensive coordinator Mike Stoops for the first time since just before practice started. Here’s some quick highlights:
-No surprise, but he anticipates using both the three- and four-man fronts. “We’ll mix and match based on what we’re getting in terms of personnel.
-On the three-man: “It just gives you more diversity coming from different edges from pressure looks. It gives you more pressure opportunities.
-Zack Sanchez will replace Cortez Johnson in the starting role Saturday.
-On Quincy Russell: “Quincy is getting better. Again, it’s a lot to grasp in a week. I’m sure his head is spinning a little bit. Hopefully we can get him to the point by Saturday that he feels like he can go out and play and not think.” Said he expected Russell to play between 20-30 snaps Saturday.
-On Quentin Hayes: “He’s really come into his own as a player. His cover skills, his speed, his ability to cover the field has been exceptional this camp. He shows up a lot. He seems very confident for a guy who hasn’t played a lot.”
-On Trevor Knight: “He’s an explosive guy. He can make explosive plays and that’s the one thing you know about him: he can make a bad play a good play. He has that uncanny ability to make plays on his feet and he can make plays with his arm. He’s very multidimensional.”
-On lack of turnovers: “Well, it’s a big area of concern and certainly our inability to put constant pressure on people I think leads to that. We need to try to force more opportunities for ourselves and be more aggressive.”
-Said he expected to have at least two linebackers on the field at all times.
-On Ahmad Thomas and Hatari Byrd: “Well, Ahmad’s further ahead of Hatari just because he was here all spring and summer. Hatari was here most of the summer, so Hatari’s a little bit behind, but that’s again, safety positions are more difficult because there’s more movement to a safety. Corner is easier to learn, harder to play.”
-On being nervous about this defense: “Yeah, it’s unsettling. I’m nervous too. I’ll be nervous as anybody. But you know, you trust your players, trust the system, and make some good calls, get them in the right position to make some plays. Again, we feel like we can match up, we’ve just gotta make sure … it gets down to making mistakes. We’ve got to limit our mistakes Saturday night.”
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