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Oklahoma State cornerbacks coach Van Malone talks Justin Gilbert, plan for tighter coverage

Gina Mizell Modified: April 22, 2013 at 6:31 pm •  Published: April 9, 2013

Oklahoma State has a pretty engaging and energetic coaching staff, but Van Malone may be the most talkative of the bunch. That’s a good thing for media types.

I chatted with Malone a couple weeks ago for this story I wrote about the Cowboy cornerbacks and their goal to play tighter coverage in 2013. But, as usual, a lot got left on the cutting room floor.

Here’s some more from Malone:

How has the transition been switching from coach the safeties to the cornerbacks?

No different, because of the fact that Jason (Jones) and I always worked together. We coach them both. And that’s kind of the relationship that Tim (Duffie) and I will have is we’ll coach them both. And that’s why it was important to get the right kind of guy, because that fit between those two positions, between those two coaches, I think is vital. More than any other on our staff.

How did you, Mike Gundy and Glenn Spencer come to the decision to move you to cornerbacks?

Coaching corners and the technical aspects of it, that’s something that I really enjoy. Safeties, there’s a little bit of technical coaching involved, but more when you coach the corners. So I was kind of pushing a little bit more for us to look for (a guy who would coach safeties). So when it worked out that we got Tim, it was great for me.

How have the cornerbacks been adjusting to the philosophy tweak of playing more aggressively and with tighter coverage?

Those guys, when you train one way — talking really technically — and then you want to train them a different way, it just takes time. We’ve seen some aspects of good and bad of this transition, but they’re buying into what we’re doing, and I like that. They’ve always been like that. They like to be coached. They want to be good.

What have you seen from sophomores Kevin Peterson and Ashton Lampkin, who are battling for the starting spot opposite Justin Gilbert?

The fact that both of those guys are so young and are so much in a position to be molded. Kevin’s in here every day watching himself. He’s in here every day working on refining his skill set. To see that from a young guy, I’m really intrigued, excited about it. Asthon, out on the field, to see his aggressive nature, it takes me right to where we’re trying to go — to be more aggressive, to tighten that coverage, to get our hands on those receivers. That’s kind of who he is at his core. He’s not a soft guy. So those two guys, in their own way, they really bring a lot to the table as far as the new direction that we’re trying to go with that position.

Why do you think Justin Gilbert struggled so much last season?

You’ve got to understand, Justin was a quarterback in high school. Throw him in here and you say, ‘You’re a defensive back now.’ Some of those skills, some of those things that are really technical, for a guy who hasn’t done this all his life, (it’s harder). Kevin Peterson, he’s been a defensive back all his life. That’s what he’s done. So those things, they just come so naturally to all those guys, because they’ve been trained on them play after play. They’ve been beaten on post routes play after play.

With Justin, you come in and have early success. You’re a phenomenal athlete, and sometimes, you do it just off your athleticism. Last year, we saw sometimes where his athleticism didn’t do it. Now, when that offense zooms in and they start to pick on you, especially at this position, your skin has to be thick. But when they keep attacking you, they’re going to beat you. And then what happens is your confidence gets down. So then the next play, because your confidence is down, then they beat you again.

What do you expect out of Gilbert in his senior season?

When a guy gets to be a senior, a light comes on. Sometimes it happens in the spring, and sometimes it doesn’t happen until the summertime and into fall camp. You see where he’s just a little bit higher than everybody out there. He’s on a different level. And I won’t say he’s there now, but I see he has a certain peace about him when he’s out there operating and he understands the pressure of the position. And he’s not putting a lot of pressure on himself, because it comes with pressure. I’m excited about him, as well. We’re not going to be able to do a lot of things we want to do without him.

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