The great thing about defending Dana Holgorsen’s offense is that defensive backs get plenty of work brushing up on their pass coverage skills during practice. The bad thing about defending Dana Holgorsen’s offense is that defensive backs get plenty of work brushing up on their pass coverage skills during practice.
Does that sound a little odd? Well, consider the plight of junior corner Brodrick Jenkins, who is one of only three scholarship corners available this spring after Pat Miller went down with a broken foot and won’t be available again until some time later this summer.
“They are trying to utilize the walk-ons to get them as many reps as they can to get used to it, but the one thing we can do now is to try to work with what we’ve got and just try and build from there,” Jenkins said.
The Fort Myers, Fla., resident is trying to build on a successful sophomore campaign that saw him get progressively better as the season wore on. He started the last three games of the year against Pitt, USF and Clemson in the Orange Bowl, and he picked off a pair of passes during West Virginia’s come-from-behind, 41-31 victory at Rutgers in downright awful conditions.
This spring, Jenkins says he is concentrating on the techniques that he will need to use to try and slow down some of the best offenses in the country that he will be facing in the Big 12 Conference.
“Basically, I look at it as it’s going to help me as far as getting to the league because I am going to see more passing,” Jenkins explained. “The (NFL) likes physical corners, but it also likes corners that can guard, too, and I feel like I can bring both. Going to the Big 12 can show that I am a cover corner, too.”
Jenkins actually gets a healthy dose of reality every time he steps onto the practice field to cover Stedman Bailey on the outside or try and get a hand on Tavon Austin working the inside. Jenkins believes if he can slow down those two guys then he can slow down just about anybody out there.
“Ask Clemson. Ask USF. It’s hard (covering Austin),” Jenkins said. “I think people don’t always understand that and give him the recognition that he needs. Players like Tavon and Stedman – and even getting the reps from Geno (Smith) – I feel like me going against them every day I can go against anybody in the country.”
So, just how do you get Austin to the ground in open space?
“It takes teamwork because not one person is really going to take him down by himself,” Jenkins said. “It helps me to learn team effort.
“If someone takes him down, one on one, I give them all the props and the NFL needs to look at them and go get them now,” Jenkins said.
This spring, new secondary coach Daron Roberts is asking his corners to play more bump-and-run coverage and get their hands on receivers at the line of scrimmage to try and learn how to slow down some of the fleet receivers they are going to face in the Big 12.
“He says everything happens at the line and if they can’t get off then it helps us,” Jenkins said. “It messes the timing up with the quarterback, and it helps us be able to knock their concentration off.”
Roberts constantly preaches technique to his players but in the end, using proper technique will only get a corner so far. Players have to make plays when the ball is in the air.
“He says it is being an athlete. Use your technique and stuff to get there and once the ball is in the air that’s when the athlete takes over,” Jenkins explained.
Oftentimes, corners need a little help, too.
“When a receiver makes a big play on a fade ball, the only thing (most fans) know is it’s the corner’s fault,” Jenkins said. “But they may not know that we are in cover two (with help coming over the top). Being out there for every play you’ve got to be on your job.”
Jenkins says he is beginning to get to the point where he can see routes and plays developing in front of him. Gaining that additional knowledge can help him become a more instinctive player and can mean the difference between a catch and an incompletion, or a pass breakup and an interception.
“Taking so many reps and having that game experience, I’m trying to figure out situations and use it to my advantage - and also starting to figure out in the defense when I can do something and when I can’t do something,” Jenkins said. “Having people like (Darwin) Cook overtop helps me out because he knows when I am disguising something and he can disguise it, too, so that kind of helps out.”
In the end, Jenkins believes whatever goes down on video tape is ultimately how a player will be judged.
“I think about making every play that I can and taking advantage of every opportunity that I can to be successful,” he said.
That sounds like a very good way to approach things.