Tuesday, September 25th Safeties Coach Mark Elder discussed safety depth, Dominique Battle's position change, and the importance of a healthy Drew Frey.
With Drew sitting out a game it afforded you an opportunity to see more guys in game situations. What did you see?
We played a couple more guys than what we had previously last week. We were able to get Malcolm (Murray) in there and he went out and did a really nice job. He went out and played well, played disciplined. He read his keys well, which is good. Got to see (Dominique) Battle at safety after making the transition from corner over to safety. And he did a really nice job, as well. He went in there and made a couple of nice plays.
We also got to see the young pup, Kevin Brown got out there. And he was out there for a couple series and the good thing was that he didn't have any MA's (missed assignments). He was reading his keys and it looked like he belonged so that was encouraging.
How does a decision to move Battle from cornerback to safety take place? Does (Head Coach) Butch Jones make the decision on his own and come to you and say 'This is the decision?'
It is a collaborative effort. Everybody got together and we talked about it. We weighed the positives and negatives of it and obviously every major decision like that the final say is always going to be Coach Jones, but that was a group decision that we all talked about. Coach Jancek, Coach Morrison, Coach Jones, we all talked about it and thought it would be the right move right now for the team to get better.
It has to be enjoyable to essentially add a mid-season transfer to your position group that has legitimate game experience.
Absolutely. He has a lot of experience. He has played a lot of downs on Saturdays it is essentially very similar.
Being a corner and knowing what the safeties are doing is absolutely important and something he has always known being a student of the game. He is a smart guy. He hasn't necessarily taken all the reps the past three years, but he has always known their assignments and their fits, where their eyes should be, so the transition has just been a matter of him getting the physical reps. He already knows what he is doing mentally, which is good. It has made the transition easier for him.
Do you notice a difference with outgoing seniors trying just a little bit harder than they did coming up? The end of the line can be a real motivator.
I think that certainly experience plays a big part in guys doing well. And a guy that is in his last year and has played a lot of snaps you are anticipating him playing his best ball in his senior year.
I will say that Coach Jones always says that seniors play their best or their worst ball. And there is a lot of truth to that because of the fact that they are either playing their best ball because they have the most experience of their careers and possibly because they are putting a little more into it because they see that hourglass sand starting to dwindle out of it.
The reason some guys might not be playing their best ball might be they put too much pressure on themselves because that hourglass is starting to wear out and get empty, but that is true. Guys are either going to play their best ball or their worst. Thus far they are playing their best, which is great to see.
Could you talk about the importance of having Drew's mind on the field considering the quick, informed decisions he makes each play.
Drew is a smart football player. He is a vocal football player and he is a confident player. Those things are evident when he is on the field. There is no hesitation with making coverage checks. There is no hesitation when he sees something he calls it out and gets it communicated to the corner, to the linebacker, to the other safety and really runs the show back there, which is big.
And I have seen the same out of Arryn Chenault, Chenault has been doing a very nice job with that, as well. I definitely see that out of Drew. He has great command. He knows the defense inside and out and he is very confident in what we are doing, what he is doing and making all the right calls.
That takes me to my final question on Chenault. I see great timing and remarkable reactions. He breaks so early on the play.
I think it was evident last week when he went out and played well. He is reading his keys well. He is reacting well. He had a nice read on the interception he made and high-pointed it.