Inside Look: Cornerbacks

Inside Look:  Cornerbacks

If Southern Miss is to improve on defense, the cornerbacks have to take a big step forward this season. In this exclusive interview with Coach Grady Brown, he talks about why that will be the case, impact players this season, and some newcomers that could contribute right away.

Southern Miss has made some changes to the defensive philosophy, and the cornerbacks are a key ingrediant to any success they hope to have in 2011.

In the league of pass happy offenses, multiple guys that can make plays are essential. Coach Brown believes this is the year marked improvement is made in the pass defense for the Golden Eagles.

"I think we are in a good place," he said in an interview after practice tonight. "It is early so there is some rust early and some miscommunication and things like that happening."

"My goal is to build on the success we had from the fall and into the spring last season. When we had all our guys healthy we were actually a really good group. Now we have everyone healthy and in place and our focus is working on building upon the good spring we had."

One guy that burst onto the scene last year was redshirt freshman Deron Wilson who showed flashes of brilliance in his first year.

I asked Coach Brown how he can build on his success in year two.

"I see the sky being the limit for him," he said. "He is by far one of the smartest players I have ever been around and coached."

"He is very blessed and gifted in football knowledge and sees things that a lot of players can't see. He makes plays because of his football knowledge."

"He's a great athlete and can run and is obviously gifted athleticly, but what sets him apart is his knowledge of the game. He's doing well and I think he'll continue to build on the plays he made last year."

Coach Brown lit up when talked about Marcal Robinson and the terrific spring he had. Robinson is poised to be another break-out player this year.

"He is doing a good job," he said. "I'm pleased with his effort, it is so much better than it was when I got here about a year ago."

"He has NFL talent," Coach Brown added. "He has an NFL build, and if he continues to develop and do the right things on the field, he'll be a stand out player for us this year."

Last season, Marquese Wheaton came in and contributed as a JuCo transfer. How will he factor in this season?

"I think everyone when they come watch us play this season will be very pleased with Marquese Wheaton," he said.

"He is a long way from where he was last season. He and I got here the same time, and it was a huge adjustment to him getting used to living in the south and the weather. He is a really good football player, and I enjoy coaching him every day."

"He and I have really built a good relationship and he really buys in well to what we are doing. I am telling you, people are going to be pleased when they see him play because he is really coming along well."

There have been some newcomers that are turning some heads in the early days of practice. Coach Brown mentions the importance of quality depth in Conference USA.

"I will tell you what, my goal is to always develop as many players as I can who can come in and play," he said. "When you have five wide reciever sets and the ball thrown all over the field, you better have a lot of guys that can play."

"Alex Walters is still learning, and developing."

There is one player who really stood out and got Coach Brown excited even as early as it is in fall practice.

"In terms of a new face right now, Trey Becton-Martin was a guy that was signed as a wide receiver. Right now we are working him at corner. I don't want to speak to soon or crown him just yet, but he has all of the physical tools to be a really good corner in this league."

"If he stays on this pace, with his physical ability, he'll be a great one at corner."

Furious Bradley was another newcomer who had a great spring. As a redshirt freshman, Bradley has all the physical tools.

"Furious' presence will definately be felt this season," he said. "He plays with a lot of energy and a lot of emotion. Pound for pound, he is probably one of the toughest guys on the team. He wants to win, and is a great teammate."

"He will be valuable in many different ways. In punt block, kick return team, and he'll have an opportunity to play on defense."

With several guys who have improved and can contribute this season, what is the main point of emphasis for the cornerbacks?

"We are in a good place team wise and scheme wise," he said. "We have put everything in scheme wise, and the guys not only know their position but also know everyone else's as well."

He said there are two areas they must improve in to be at the level he would like to see.

"We have to catch the ball better, we dropped to many interceptions last season," he said. "We missed a lot of opportunities for turnovers and were hurt by dropped interceptions last year."

"Two, we have to become better open field tacklers," he added. "This league plays on the perimeter, and we have to tackle and keep the yards after catch down this season."

Coach Brown and the defense goes back to work tomorrow from 9:45 to noon. Stay with GoldenEaglePride.com for the best Southern Miss football coverage around.

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