Unit Analysis: Secondary

Posted: July 25, 2013 in Uncategorized

Where do we start?  The USF secondary was a huge weakness last season, recording just one interception among all the defensive backs.  On top of that, the two starting corners, George Baker and Kayvon Webster, are now both in the NFL.  This entire unit has to get better if the Bulls want to close out games. 

Here is the 2012 roster (safeties, cornerbacks, and defensive backs all listed):

JaQuez Jenkins – 6’2″ 188 lbs. – Redshirt junior –  – Safety – 53 tackles, 4 TFL

Mark Joyce – 5’10” 200 lbs. – Junior – – Safety – 74 tackles

Jon Lejiste – 6′ 205 lbs. – Senior – – Safety – 18 tackles, 1 INT

George Baker – 5’11” 180 lbs. – Senior – Cornerback – 42 tackles, 5 TFL

Kayvon Webster – 5’11’ 198 lbs. – Senior – Cornerback – 82 tackles, 4 TFL (2 sacks), 6 PBU, 3 FF

Chris Bivins Jr. – 5’11” 176 lbs. – Freshman – Defensive back – 1 tackle

Joshua Brown – 6′ 181 lbs. – Junior – Defensive back – 11 tackles

Kenneth Durden – 6′ 176 lbs. – Redshirt freshman – Defensive back – 10 tackles

Zach Fisher – 5’9″ 175 lbs. – Redshirt freshman – Defensive back – No stats recorded

CJ Garye – 6’3″ 216 lbs. – Redshirt freshman – No stats recorded

Trevon Griffin – 6′ 210 lbs. – Redshirt sophomore – Defensive back – 3 tackles

Tommie Hankerson – 5’9″ 202 lbs. – Sophomore – Defensive back – No stats recorded

Antonio Hughes – 5’11” 175 lbs. – Junior – Defensive back – No stats recorded

Fidel Montgomery – 6′ 187 lbs. – Junior – Defensive back – 19 tackles

Tyler Robb – 5’10” 192 lbs. – Redshirt freshman – Defensive back – No stats recorded

Jalen Spencer – 6′ 175 lbs. – Freshman – Defensive back – No stats recorded

Tabarie Sullivan – 5’9″ 180 lbs. – Freshman – Defensive back – No stats recorded

Ernie Tabuteau – 5’10” 184 lbs. – Senior – Defensive back – No stats recorded

This is what the unit lost at the end of the year:

Jon Lejiste – Graduated

George Baker – Graduated, NFL (Titans)

Kayvon Webster – Graduated, NFL (3rd round, Broncos)

Zach Fisher – Left team

CJ Garye – Now at linebacker

Antonio Hughes – Left team

Tabarie Sullivan – Left team

Ernie Tabuteau – Graduated

Incoming recruiting class for 2013:

Hassan Childs – 6′ 169 lbs. – 3-stars

Nate Godwin – 5’10” 196 lbs. – 3-stars

Lamar Robbins – 6’2″ 181 lbs. – 4-stars

Torrel Saffold – 5’11” 163 lbs.  – 2-stars

Johnny Ward – 6′ 163 lbs. – 2-stars

Here is the roster (without the incoming recruits added in):

Chris Bivins Jr. – 5’11” 175 lbs. – Sophomore – Returning after tearing his ACL (second time)

Joshua Brown – 6′ 185 lbs. – Senior

Kenneth Durden – 6′ 173 lbs. – Redshirt sophomore

Trevon Griffin – 6′ 202 lbs. – Redshirt junior

Tommie Hankerson – 5’9″ 196 lbs. – Junior

Fidel Montgomery – 6′ 185 lbs. – Senior

Mark Oliver – 5’9″ 180 lbs. – Junior

Tyler Robb – 5’10” 192 lbs. – Redshirt sophomore

Brandon Salinas – 5’11” 170 lbs. – Senior – Was not part of the team last year, played in 2011

Jalen Spencer – 6′ 178 lbs. – Redshirt freshman

JaQuez Jenkins – 6’2″ 190 lbs. – Redshirt senior

Mark Joyce – 5’10” 195 lbs. – Senior

Where do we start?  The secondary was flat out awful last season, there is no debate there.  Just one interception from a reserve safety (who is gone now) was recorded by the entire group and many times, teams were able to throw the ball at will late in games, torching the backfield.  Coach Taggart has already said there is no way that can happen again in 2013, but does he have the talent on the roster to make it happen?  For starters, Coach Bresnahan will hopefully have our corners playing tighter and not sitting back 15 yards, waiting to get carved up by elite passers in this conference.

So, let’s dig deep into this roster.  Both starting corners from last year are gone, both Kayvon Webster and George Baker.  Webster wast the leading tackler from last season, so the Bulls will need someone else to take that role (how does the CB lead the frickin team?!)  The Bulls do return both starters at safety in Jenkins and Joyce, giving them a lot of experience deep in the secondary, but who is behind them?  Trevon Griffin appears to be a guy that can get it done along Fidel Montgomery who can rotate in at safety or nickel.  The Bulls lost Josh Brown for the year, which is a major blow and forces them to rely on younger players.  One of these young freshman is Lamar Robbins.  His size makes him a monster safety, but could easily play at cornerback.  He could play at safety and Jenkins could move to nickel during certain situations, but that is left to be seen.  The biggest question is cornerback.

Bivins tore his ACL last year and was held out in the spring, but should be a full go this fall.  I would expect him to battle for a job as soon as he is 100% cleared to practice.  Brandon Salinas, who was not part of the team last season, is back and could be entering the fall as a starter.  Saffold, a junior college player, joined in the spring and got reps with the first team.  Kenneth Durden, a quick defensive back, is entering the fall as with Salinas as possible starters.  The incoming recruits have a lot of opportunities as well.  Torrel Saffold, a JUCO player, got reps during the fall and could potentially push for a job.  Nate Godwin, who is a big, physical back, could also get a chance.  Hassan Childs and Johnny Ward will also get looks as well, making for a very active fall in deciding who the starters will be.

So who do I think will be the starters? Flip a coin, flip many coins.  Salinas and Durden are the favorites entering the fall, but I thin it changes after camp.   I believe Durden has one of the positions locked down after the fall and for either Saffold or Bivins to take the other job, but it could be a rotating position with Salinas and the freshmen battling for playing time.

Overall grade: D –

Rough I know, but if you watched last season, you’ll understand.  The coaching, or lack thereof, was a major problem last year that led to the big blunders, but replacing both starting corners to enter the fall is not good.  We have both safeties back, but there are holes in their games that have to be worked on and the candidates for the starting corner roles are completely up for grabs.  While some teams probably can pencil in at least one guy to start at corner and nickel, USF has to start from scratch.

Does this unit have the potential to be much higher? Of course, there is talent here, but it hasn’t produced.  Will the coaching be better? Damn right it will.  With Coach Cooper and Coach Bresnahan taking over for old man Rick Smith and captain screw up Chris Cosh, the coaching will have the players in better position (instead of 15 yards back off the line and back-peddling).  This unit could be a high C or mid-level B at the end of the year, but there is a lot of work that has to be done.

  1. Blaine says:

    You could argue even with less talent, the improved coaching (hopefully), should make a big impact. I can’t handle another season of 4th quarter meltdowns.

  2. mstaton says:

    Talent is there on the roster, it’s just very young (Durden, Bivins, Robbins). The coaching is going to be the key. While Bresnahan will probably be a factor, having a guy like Cooper, the guy that coached at LSU, will be huge in developing skills and tendencies. I agree, they have to come up in the 4th and not allow teams to just walk there way down the field. Front 4 will help that as well.

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