By Heath Bradley.
Brent Venables met with the media today following the Tigers last practice of fall camp in 2012. The Tigers will have the day off Wednesday as classes start for the fall semester. Venables discussed where the depth chart stands of today for many positions as well as potential redshirts for the 2012 season.
Venables seemed pleased overall with the progression of the defense as a whole throughout fall camp but understands that this defense is going to be a work in progress, and will need to improve as the season continues.
“We are making progress. We are still a work in progress; we have a lot of work still ahead, the next 10 days will be critical. It will be a process all year long. We have to continue to get better and improve on all the little things. It requires daily investment; it is not just going to happen over night. I like the mindset of our guys, the work they have put in, and their willingness to focus, prepare, and take it one day at a time,” said Venables.
The defense line rotation has been a major point of discussion this fall camp and with camp coming to a close today, Venables discussed who he expected to see the majority of the snaps both inside and out on the defense line early this season. “I think we have five guys that we think we are going to play. How many snaps, as far as inside tackles and the percentage they take, we have not determined. I know three guys (Grady, Watson, and Williams) will take the majority and then the two freshmen (Reader and Watkins) we will work on seeing what they can handle. At defensive end we have Malliciah (Goodman), Corey (Crawford), Vic (Beasley), and Tavaris (Barnes). I am sure Malliciah is going to get a bunch then we will rotate those other three guys. “ One interesting note was that Venables said he expected to redshirt the freshmen defensive ends, Martin Aiken and Kevin Dodd, he did not expect them to play this season, unless something unexpected happened.
The lack of depth across the defensive line as well at other positions on the defense may concern Venables slightly, but his excitement for seeing what these guys kind finally do in the game seems to overrule the concern.
“The lack of experience is a little bit concerning to see how they will play and react and fight through the elements, but I like the mindset of them from what I have seen from them in practice. I am excited to see them go out and do it now,” said Venables.
With the injury to Martin Jenkins as well as the numbers at safety, Garry Peters has moved from safety to corner. As of today, Peters has impressed the coaches since making the move.
“Peters is playing corner, we moved him from safety to corner. He has done a nice job, he is picking things up well,” said Venables.
Stephone Anthony is a name that has seemed to come up a lot this camp, and it came up again today. Venables seems to be very impressed with Anthony’s progression as a player, but also with how he has improved, and his skill set.
“I think he has progressed well. He has the chance to be a very good player. He is still fine-tuning and working to master his craft and understanding the game. He loves to compete, and he loves to work. He has all the intangibles; big, strong, fast, athletic, and instinctive, he has done well,” said Venables.
When asked whether Tony Steward would redshirt in 2012, Venables stated that it was still an option, but it has not been discussed with Steward to date. “That is an option, I do not know whether or not he wants to do that or not. We have a little window of time to figure that out. That is still on the table as of now.”
With camp over, Auburn game prep will be even more of a focus the final 10 days of practice before the start of the season. Auburn has changed coordinators since last season and Venables expects to see a variety of looks from the Auburn offense in the Georgia Dome. “I think you are going to get a little bit of everything. I think you will see some spread. I think you are going to see some run and play action oriented as well, I think they are equipped to do both. They have the transfer from Illinois who is kind of a “road grader” fullback, he is kind of a downhill player, and they have some other good tight ends and back. I think they have some good skill to spread you out and a quarterback who can run all that spread stuff. I think we are expecting to get a little bit of both.”