By Heath Bradley.
The Tigers return three of the five players who appeared in snaps at defensive end in 2011. However, the two players that the Tigers lost are now on NFL rosters and two of the remaining three only played sparingly. The only returning veteran is Malliciah Goodman, gone are Andre Branch and Kourtnei Brown. Goodman will now be expected to be a leader of a group of young, but very talented defensive ends. Corey Crawford will replace Andre Branch, and a group of young, talented, but untested Tigers will look to fill the reserve roles for the Tigers at Defensive End. Coach Marion Hobby spoke in detail with the media today about his players, and what the current situation is at defensive end entering 2012.
On replacing Andre Branch:
“The biggest thing is replacing his leadership. The way he stepped up as a senior, the way he helped mature the young guys. Most of all the way he played as a senior will be tough. Corey (Crawford) has to step up and play where Branch left off, Vic Beasley as well, we are expecting Vic to step up.”
On Malliciach Goodman becoming more of a leader:
“I saw a big improvement in him, he will never be the hoorah cheerleader guy, but he demands respect from the young guys. When he talks they listen, you can see this in the meeting room, they know to listen when he talks, because he doesn’t do it a lot. I think he is in the perfect position right now.”
On the growth of Corey Crawford as a player:
“We have to realize he was a true freshman last year. He has taken this summer serious, we have challenged him to be better, and to be a leader, He has done that, he will be a vocal leader, it comes naturally for him, he has a great upside.”
“We have three guys who have played football. (Goodman, Crawford, and Beasley) Beasley’s reps were not high, but he played a lot, we are counting on him. We tell them that seniors have to play like seniors, and veterans like veterans.”
On Vic Beasley, his size, strength and ability:
“He packs a punch, he is a naturally physically strong guy, like Branch was. He has natural strength for the position. He is in great physical shape and has great strength and has all the ability to help us.”
On the Reserves Entering 2012:
“Kevin Dodd and Rod Byers played in the spring. It was important for them to get used to getting things done the way we want them. Coach Swinney did a good job getting the guys got a lot of snaps in game type situations. I am excited about them, they just haven’t played. We can also add the two freshmen in there, Martin Aiken who is here and Shaq Lawson who hopefully we will be getting soon. I am excited about the opportunity for those guys.”
On Having to Play Freshmen:
“There is nothing wrong with playing them if they show they can play. If they pick up the scheme, show good work habits, and most of all can protect themselves out there. It is different out there with men.”