Saturday is Personal for Eli Brown
The redshirt freshman will linebacker only had five tackles entering the Alabama game, but Brown left Tuscaloosa with a career-high eight tackles. Playing on the big stage at Alabama opened his eyes.
“You don’t want to seem overrated. Especially being undersized, I wanted to show people that I can play at any kind of weight and I’m going to play hard regardless,” Brown said after practice today.
For most, playing Vanderbilt doesn’t come with as much hype as on the road against No. 1 Alabama. That’s not the case for Brown.
“A lot of people don’t know, but I was committed to Vandy, so this is a big game for me. I’m going into this game just like Alabama, but I want to pick it up even more.”
Vanderbilt will give the ball to Ralph Webb early and often. His position coach Matt House said, “For a linebacker, shoot, it’s the kind of game you want to play in.”
Brown and the rest of his group are taking it personal.
“As a linebacker, you’ve gotta to take that offensive. If the offense can run the ball on you, that basically means you’re getting slapped in the face over and over again. You never want to feel like less of a man. As a group, we’re not gonna let anybody just push us over. We fear no man. We’re gonna get to the ball.”
Adding More Players Into the Mix
At the beginning of the season, the defensive rotation was too thin. With inexperience all over the front seven, as players have gotten more reps, the coaches are beginning to trust more and more people. D.J. Eliot said they’re not done adding more people into the rotation. Expect to see more of Jordan Bonner, Kash Daniel, Kengera Daniel and Eli Brown. Eliot hopes they can be two-deep at each position by season’s end.
Jordan Jones Never Stops
The SEC’s second-leading tackler has built quite the reputation through the first five weeks of the season. He brings intensity to the scene wherever it may be.
“There’s never a dull moment in the meeting room with Jordan. He’s always up yelling,” Brown said. “Coming straight from practice to the meeting rooms, you need something like that, something to help wake you up.”
Chatter Between Ridley and Baity
Derrick Baity spent most of Saturday covering Alabama’s All-American wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Baity was bested a few times, but Ridley learned to respect Baity quickly. They talked some during the game. It wasn’t trash talk, but mutual respect.
“Man you should have had that pick,” Baity recalled the conversation with Ridley. “You’re doing good. I gotta think differently running routes against you.”
The Emphasis on Special Teams
Mark Stoops has frequently poked fun at the media. When special teams struggled last year, there were always questions, but now there’s no need to question the special teams.
Matt House was added to the staff as the special teams coordinator this offseason. Most special teams coaches like to use gimmicks to bring the unit together, but House keeps it simple.
“I think more than anything is showing them how they affect the game and how they affect affect each other by just watching on tape how they can make a difference.” House said they focus hidden yards by the average start of drives on kickoff, kickoff return and net punt.