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“It’s All Good” Vs. “No, We Actually Are Screwed In The Secondary”

August 5, 2009
For those that haven’t heard, State safety Jimmaul Simmons decided to quit school this week. Simmons’ departure from the team, along with cornerback Dominique Ellis’ decision to transfer, has left two big holes in State’s secondary. If you’ve had a chance to read Joe Giglio’s piece over at ACC Now, you read Joe lay out a convincing argument as to why a weaker defensive backfield might not sink State’s chances at a solid season this year. His point being that the ACC is devoid of any quarterbacks or wide receivers that pose a legitimate downfield threat.

It’s a fair point.

The counter argument holds water, though. Take a look at this depth chart (put together by ToddL over at PackPride.com) and look at the cornerback and safety positions near the bottom:


# 2009 – Seniors 2010 – Juniors 2011 – Sophomores 2012 – Freshmen 2012/2013 – Incoming Freshmen
QB 3 (3)

R. Wilson (RS) M. Glennon (RS) E. Proctor
RB 7 (7) T. Baker (RS)
J. Eugene (RS)
C. Underwood T. Gentry FB (WO)
T. Palmer (JC)
B. Barnes (RS)
C. Jackson FB (RS)
J. Washington (E)
WR 9 (11)
D. Bowens (RS)
D. Davis (RS)
O. Spencer (P,E)
J. Williams (RS)
T.J. Graham
S. Howard (RS)
J. Smith (RS)

M. Alexander
Q. Payton
TE 5 (4) M. Kushner (RS)
G. Bryan (RS) M. Carter (RS) A. Talbert
A. Watson
OL 16 (15) A. Barbee (RS)
T. Larsen (RS)
J. McCuller (RS)
J. Williams (RS)
G. Gregory (RS)
J. Vermiglio (P)
W. Crawford (RS)
H. Lawson (RS)
D. Roberts (RS)
Z. Allen (RS)
R.J. Mattes (RS)
A. Wallace (RS)
D. Christophe
D. Good
S. Jones (P,D,E)
C. Wentz
DT 5 (6) L. Burgess (JC)
A.M. Cash (RS)
N. Mageo (JC,E) J.R. Sweezy (RS)
B. Slay
DE 8 (6) S. McKeen (RS) (JC)
W. Young (RS)
A. Augustin (RS)
M. Kuhn (DE/DT?)
J. Rieskamp (RS)
D. Cato-Bishop
S. Crawford
LB 10 (10) R. Michel (RS) N. Irving (RS) A. Cole (RS)
S. Lucas
D. Maddox (E)
R. Mangram (JC)
W. Beasley (RS)
T. Manning (RS)
R. Dowdy
R. Cheek
H. Rice
CB 7 (6) K. George (RS) (WO) D. Morgan (RS)
G. Grant (RS)
C.J. Wilson (RS)
J. Byrd
D. Haynes
R. Smith
S 6 (7) C. Johnson (JC) J. Walker (RS) J. Byers (RS) E. Wolff (RS) B. Bishop
D. Coleman (P,E)
ST 4 (2) J. Ruiz (RS) (JC)
C. Tedder (WO)
J. Czajkowski (RS)

C. Ward
Tot 79 (77) 16 14 15 (17) 12 22

(Continues)

On this chart, you’ll see 13 players allocated to the defensive backfield. The incoming freshman class contains five safeties and corners, but it’s a safe assumption that coach Tom O’Brien plans to redshirt them.

That leaves just eight players on the roster available to fill out the secondary, including a walk-on (Koyal George, a converted wide receiver) and Javon Walker, currently on the shelf due to injury. That’s just enough to fill out the two deep, assuming Walker returns on time. If O’Brien hopes to redshirt his freshman secondary, he’ll have to see his eight non-frosh players play at a high level and make their way through a 12-game schedule with no more dings or dents — a tall order for any team, but especially so for State given its recent injury history.

It’s easy to see why there’s pessimism with respect to State’s secondary.

My guess is that players like Jarvis Byrd, a highly touted freshman corner from Florida, will have to forgo redshirting. It’s not ideal, and I’m sure O’Brien will try avoiding it if possible, but I just can’t see how this band of eight can step up and even match the production from a year ago…which finished as one of the worst pass defenses in the country. He’s going to have to play at least one freshman corner or safety.

The passing attacks of the opposing teams in the conference may not equal those in the Big 12, but they all have FBS-caliber quarterbacks, and State’s patchwork crew in the secondary could make these B-team QBs still look very, very good. It’ll be on the defensive line to generate sufficient, consistent pressure to keep teams from posting some big passing numbers this season.

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