Looking Ahead - Defensive Back

Boomergump

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The 2013 season produced mixed results in this position group. They were dealt a fairly tough hand, often having to cover while the opposing team had far too long to let go of the ball. Like most position groups there were some very strong moments and some head scratchers too. Generally speaking, when asked to cover in tight man, the unit excelled, and when asked to play zone, they struggled. There were some fundamental break downs at times, but far fewer than in recent seasons. In the final analysis, I would say they failed to make enough plays to turn games in our favor, while also playing well enough most of the time to keep us in games.

Gone: are Jemea Thomas and Louis Young, who both have exhausted their eligibility. Jemea will go down in TECH history as one of the best and most memorable defensive players. He played with great instincts, tackled like a machine, and generally covered very well, all while changing positions routinely. If there was one guy in our secondary you would call a play-maker, it was Jemea. He was a leader and a special player. Louis Young will probably be remembered as an enigma of sorts. He arrived, highly rated with a lot of fan fair, however, he failed to ever achieve a level of consistency that would engender confidence in the fan base. The highs achieved during his good games were matched equally by some maddening lows, which often included fundamental break downs in coverage and tackling technique. He had the physical ability to be a special player, but sadly, never reached that category. His future, unlike Thomas, is somewhat uncertain. Most likely he will be given a chance in the league, but he will have to take that next step of consistency to stick there and make a roster.

Returning with playing time: are Isaiah Johnson, RSR, 6-2, 210, Coray Carlson RSR, 6-0, 180, Jamal Golden, SR, 6-0, 189, Chris Milton, RJR, 5-11, 185, Demond Smith RJR, 6-0, 185, Domonique Noble, 6-2, 204, DJ White, JR, 5-11, 184, Lynn Griffin, RSO, 6-0, 195. Isaiah has a ton of experience and he is recovering from an ACL injury forcing him to sit out his SR season. He has played since he was a true frosh with many bumps in the road along the way, taking poor angles and over-running plays etc. He has a lot of ability. It will be interesting to see if he has fully recovered, or if he has been surpassed by the others during his absence. We are all certainly rooting for him. Jamal was obviously and electric special teams player in the return game. His importance to the team in that regard cannot be overstated. As a safety, he was forced into the role a little early before he was ready. Hopefully that experience will serve him well next year. Coray Carlson has been a reserve player for his entire tenure and it is hard to see him gaining a greater role at safety with all of the players returning. Chris Milton has battled some injuries that have slowed his progress. He is wildly athletic, albeit a bit small for the safety position. He is fast enough to cover in the secondary and has also made a big name for himself on kick cover special teams. He will be in the mix for sure. Demond Smith got the bulk of the work at safety in 2013 and the results were favorable. He tackles well and generally plays assignment sound. He will contend strongly for a starting position. Domonique saw a lot of action in 2013 and handled himself quite well. He made a lot of huge tackles in run support. Another year of work will have him in contention as well. DJ White has the inside position (bad pun) on a starting corner job in 2014. He played pretty much all of 2013. His coverage skills are quite good even if he struggled at the end of plays getting passes broken up despite being in good position. He will need to work on his ball fighting skills in the off season. Lynn Griffin looks every bit the part of a good player waiting to break out. He is athletic enough to probably play any position. Injuries slowed him a little in 2013 and he had the least experience of the group. He will need to take a large step forward during this off season to win a position.

Outlook: The good news from 2013 was that injuries forced a lot of young players into action. Fortunately the young lads did well enough to provide some optimism going forward. Most teams will not have as many experienced players on their roster in the back field like we will. It should bode well. We appear stacked at safety. There are a lot of good options there and the battle for a starting spot will be interesting to follow. We lose a starting corner in LY and a "do everything" in JT. Replacing LY seems to be the big question. Do we have the perfect guy for CB who will raise the bar on that side of the field? We need more consistency and a difference maker at the same time. DJ seems to be solid on the other side. Who will be the guy? I am not really sure. It will be hard not to miss Jemea, but I hope, collectively, with everybody a year older and better, we can replace these two and still make a positive move forward as a unit.
 

techman78

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Nice analysis. This group will miss JT big time in my mind but im thrilled to get IJ back and have a healthy Golden and Milton. I dont think LY will be missed (that sounds bad) but he never lived up to his potential and had it not been for injuries last season his playing time would have suffered drastically. We seem to have some really strong talent back there, hope they put the rubber to the road.
 

Essobee

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Thanks, Boomer. We lost a good one and a great one, IMHO. I've got my fingers crossed, hoping someone will have a real breakout year to fill the void.
 

SidewalkJacket

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Have they ever worked Milton at corner? He seems to be the one who would be able to stay on a WR out of a break. In my opinion that has been our problem in the secondary for YEARS. We'll have several guys who are either good tacklers, or have straight line speed, but I wish we had ONE GUY with that elite hip turn/quick acceleration that the best corners have.
Also, I keep hearing how awesome this Durham kid is supposed to be. Any chance he contends at corner as a true freshman?
 

takethepoints

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I look on this aspect of the D as being like the DL: we lose a great player; do we have the players coming back to give us the same results overall? With our DL I see that as the big question for next year. I hope we can get enough production overall from both experienced and new players to get roughly the same kind of rush that Attaochu gave us this year, but I can't be sure.

With the DBs I'm more optimistic. Losing our top two safeties early on did not do us any good in the secondary or on special teams. However, as Boomer says, the up side is that a lot of pretty good players emerged and got game experience and we have both safeties coming back. I will miss Thomas a lot; I loved the way he played and I think he'll be a pro starter someday. Still, again for the reasons given in this great post, I think we can replace both players we lose and that, overall, we'll be just as good or better.
 

Sonsir

Georgia Tech Fan
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Thanks for the write up. IMHO DJ is going to be a star. As you mentioned, he's got to get better with his ball skills, but he has lock down cover skills. He got picked on against Clemson, but he was in position to make plays every time, he just didn't do well at playing the ball (especially when he was getting pushed in the back;)). Here's to DJ taking the next step!
 

Buzztheirazz

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IMO the reason we lost the uga game. I've yet to admit it til now but I knew we were gassed and left the uga game before the end of overtime. I knew they would run it down our throats, and they did. That's what happens when you basically play four guys an entire game. Whereas auburn is rotating 9 guys.
 

TampaGT

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I think there is going to be ton of pressure on this group. Losing JT, LY is going to hurt, but there some good players that had some pt this year. I think the real concern with this group is going to how much pressure the DL can get on the QB. With just AG returning this group is a question mark. Now DL could turn out to be good, if so the DB will be fine. But if the DL can't get pressure the DB group may have a hard time.
 

Eric

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Coray Carlson is done playing football...spending his final year focusing on academics.
 

AE 87

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Imo, Noble and White will be the starting corners with either Milton or Griffin in rotation. Golden and I Johnson will start at safety with Demond Smith in rotation with whichever of Milton and Griffin stays at safety. Step will probably fill out the depth at Corner or they may move Golden over.

Some of the other true Fr will probably make the field on special teams and play their way on.
 

GaTech4ever

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Have they ever worked Milton at corner? He seems to be the one who would be able to stay on a WR out of a break. In my opinion that has been our problem in the secondary for YEARS. We'll have several guys who are either good tacklers, or have straight line speed, but I wish we had ONE GUY with that elite hip turn/quick acceleration that the best corners have.
Also, I keep hearing how awesome this Durham kid is supposed to be. Any chance he contends at corner as a true freshman?

I can tell you that Milton himself thinks he's a better corner than safety, but obviously he will play wherever the coaches put him. I bet Durham will be given his shot, and I am really really excited about him. Him winning the job would say more about his talent than lack of talent returning in my opinion, although I'd give him about a 20% chance of coming in and starting.
 

gtg936g

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I hope we see some rotation this year. If injuries are not our achillies hill this year we should be relatively deep on the defensive side of the ball.
 

Eric

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I can tell you that Milton himself thinks he's a better corner than safety, but obviously he will play wherever the coaches put him. I bet Durham will be given his shot, and I am really really excited about him. Him winning the job would say more about his talent than lack of talent returning in my opinion, although I'd give him about a 20% chance of coming in and starting.

I think Durham will be in the two deep...getting him here in Spring really helps us and him.
 

bat_082994

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I can tell you that Milton himself thinks he's a better corner than safety, but obviously he will play wherever the coaches put him. I bet Durham will be given his shot, and I am really really excited about him. Him winning the job would say more about his talent than lack of talent returning in my opinion, although I'd give him about a 20% chance of coming in and starting.
I think Step starts off in the nickel but finishes the season as the #2 CB
 

RamblinCharger

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I think this group should be solid. They need to focus on creating turnovers, last years group didn't seem to get burnt much (except one guy that left) but they didn't create a lot of turnovers either, so if they can improve on that I think they'll be pretty good.
 

Boomergump

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I can tell you that Milton himself thinks he's a better corner than safety, but obviously he will play wherever the coaches put him. I bet Durham will be given his shot, and I am really really excited about him. Him winning the job would say more about his talent than lack of talent returning in my opinion, although I'd give him about a 20% chance of coming in and starting.
If that is true about Milton, it excites me. I love his speed and ability to change direction. He is a good tackler but he is really too small for ideal safety. Milton is a kid, that if we were playing in press man, could turn and run right with even the best of WRs on a go route one on one. He is that fast. I have to believe he can help us at corner. As far as Step Durham is concerned, I have no opinion about him, good or bad. I just haven't seen him play. Until I do, I'll just take other people's word for it.
 
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