By Heath Bradley.
Corey Crawford is slated to step into the role left by Andre Branch as a starting defensive end. Crawford played as a true freshman behind branch in 2011 and is eager to get the 2012 season started.
Today we spoke with Crawford and this is what he had to say about fall camp to this point.
“So far so good. We have been taking it one day at a time, going through install. It is really just a repeat of what we did in the spring. I was kind of slow in the beginning, the spring. In the summer I kind of picked up and I am doing a lot better,” said Crawford.
As with any new starter it often takes time for the “light” to go off, for the player to understand what all it takes to be the every down player at a certain position. That “light” has seemed to go off for Crawford this summer.
Crawford worked hard in the summer to mature as not only a player but as a person, taking the game of football and what it takes to be successful much more serious than in years past. Crawford focused on getting his weight down from 280 to 265 pounds and is looking to play at that weight or even less in 2012. The lighter Crawford said he spent most of his summer working on his speed. “Being quicker in my get off, being quicker off the ball and dominating my opponent.” This new blend of power and speed are exactly what is needed at the defensive end position, the new lighter and stronger Crawford will look to make an instant impact for Brent Venables in 2012.
While the Tigers will be debuting a new defensive scheme versus Auburn in the Georgia Dome, Crawford was also very upbeat about the changes new defensive coordinator Brent Venables has brought to the defense. While the system is new terminology, according to Crawford there is not very much difference at the defensive end position. “It is not too much of a difference. It is just more of gap control than anything.”
Crawford understands that a change in defense could mean a change in the role that expected from him on the field. “Whatever they need me to do I am going to do it.” Crawford is able to see the big picture of the defense and is willing to do what it takes to help his teammates have a successful year. As far as what he feels he can do to make this happen, Crawford said, “I have to step up to the plate and be that guy, don’t hold back and just do what I can to help my team win.” This will be key with Crawford filling the shoes of a player that led the team in sacks and tackles for loss in 2011.
One facet of the game that Crawford will be expected to immediately step into is being a vocal leader on the defensive line. Crawford has tallied the second most snaps of any player along the defensive front, only behind Malliciah Goodman. Crawford knows that his ability to be a vocal leader is something that a young defensive line will need. While Goodman is the elder statesman of the line, he is more of a leader by example; this will allow Crawford a more vocal player to also serve as a leader in the huddle. “Malliciah is a grinder, a silent killer.” “I don’t really have too much of a problem speaking out, being a vocal for the team, it is kind of easy.”