Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Depth chart changes afoot
By Pedro Moura
Lane Kiffin and his coaching staff aren't happy with a few players' performances so far, and they're doing something about it.
Different players are getting opportunities to take over some of the problem positions in practice this week, starting with redshirt freshman cornerback Anthony Brown, who leaped two spots up to practice as the No. 2 corner Tuesday. Previous starter Torin Harris has been particularly shaky through two games and nickel back Tony Burnett has also had his not-so-great moments, so Brown will be given the chance to unseat both of them.
"We're giving Anthony a shot," Kiffin said after Tuesday's practice. "He's another one of the young guys in the first class that we signed that has done some good things, so it's his chance to get a turn.
"We may rotate him in in base, but it's looking like he'll play nickel for sure."
Harris has been responsible for big game-sealing plays each of the past two weeks, but, aside from those has been beaten badly. Burnett's tackling has been good, as Kiffin expected when he inserted him into the lineup, but his pass coverage has left something to be desired.
Enter Brown, a risk-taker type who looks like the typical Cover-2 corner -- small and quick, but unafraid to mix himself up in tackling matters. He had an outside shot at winning a top-three cornerback spot in fall camp but never got all that close to it. He'll get a chance to do that against tall Syracuse receivers Van Chew and Alec Lemon on Saturday.
Another position up for grabs: left guard, for the second straight week. Jeremy Galten and Martin Coleman have been unable to seal down the spot early on this year, so freshman Marcus Martin worked with the first-string offense Tuesday. It didn't seem like Aundrey Walker was far away from earning another chance too, either at left guard later on or at right guard, where John Martinez has been up and down.
"We're gonna give the young guys a shot again," Kiffin said of the guards. "We're into Week 3 now, so hopefully the true freshmen can help out in there and do some things. But that's up to them, not up to us."