IU secondary coach Shelby talks young players and the challenge of playing WKU

We spoke at length this week with Indiana co-secondary coach Brandon Shelby about the progression of his young defensive backs and the challenge posed this week by Western Kentucky’s potent passing offense.

A lightly-edited transcript of Shelby’s remarks follows:

On what young defensive backs have learned through the first two weeks:

Brandon Shelby: “No. 1, you gotta prepare. No. 2, your eyes gotta be in the right spot and No. 3 you gotta be able to play fast. The same things you see in practice, you see in a game, but it’s at a higher intensity and those are some of the things we’ve learned. We’ve gotta get better at taking some of the looks and things that we see on Monday through Friday and applying them on Saturday. Those are some of the things they’ve learned coming into a game with a (quarterback) who’s been around six years. He’s very good. He knows where to throw the ball, he knows where to get away from pressure. He’s a guy that if you let him sit back there all day, it could be a long day. They’re ranked (No. 19 in passing offense) in the country and there’s a reason why. They’re well-coached, they play hard and they throw the ball around a lot, so we’ll have our hands full this week.”

On how much Rashard Fant practiced after taking a knee to the head vs. SIU:

Shelby: “A little bit. A lot of mental reps and some walkthroughs. As the game went last week we started to play a little bit more man coverage, so we felt it’d be better for him to go in there because that’s what he does. He had a couple (pass interference) calls and we have to do a better job of playing the ball.”

On coaching defensive backs to move on from big plays by opponents:

Shelby: “No one wants to get beat. At the end of the day, they’re prideful young people. I think, group-wise as young freshmen who care, that group is probably the best I’ve been around since I’ve been here. The toughest deal is you gotta coach them up Monday through Friday and you’re getting on them, then on Saturday you gotta kind of be calm because they don’t want to let you down. Their parents are in the stands, their families are there – Andre Brown, he was devastated to give up a play. What you try to do is say, ‘Well, you’re right there. That guy just made a better play than you did and we gotta get him out of bounds.’ Fortunately, we were able to overcome it. When you have some young guys out there, that’s gonna happen. With old guys it happens. The best thing that we can do is understand that, as a corner, it’s going to happen. You’ve got to move on to the next play and make something happen. For instance, Cook. He gave up a touchdown on a Cover 2. That was his fault. He comes back and runs back that 96-yard touchdown. He ends up being back at zero because he gave up one and made one, but at the end of the day, he made something happen. That’s the way the game goes.”

On teaching and seeing progress from young defensive backs:

Shelby: “The great thing about those young guys is, what they don’t know, they don’t know. Them playing hard alleviates mistakes a lot of the time. For instance, I think Cook was supposed to blitz on that 96-yard touchdown. Well, he messed up, and he don’t know what he don’t know. He’s out there playing football. At the end of the day, you say, ‘Great job, don’t do it again.’ They have fun and they still enjoy it. The aches and pains and the body aches haven’t come, so they’re not feeling anything. That’s the fun thing about it. Young guys just have to get thrown out there, understand and usually after the first couple plays, the first couple series, they kind of calm down and get ready to play. The toughest thing about young people and this whole generation is being locked in for four and a half hours. So you’ve been out there 75 snaps and they’ve only thrown the ball twice, it gets hard to keep looking at your key and your key ain’t done nothing all day. A lot of times, that’s what happens. It was a deep ball behind Devonte Williams. He was out there (for) some plays and they threw the ball only once. Then (he’s thinking), ‘Well, I want to have some fun, I want to make a play.’ Then you start looking in the backfield and before you know it, it’s a play action and the guy’s behind you. That’s the toughest thing for young people and the reason why the learning process has changed. It’s changed in college (classrooms) because people can’t sit there and pay attention for 50 minutes or an hour, fifteen. So you gotta teach different. When I was a kid, you just got your butt spanked. Now they give you all this crap. That’s kind of what it is and how it’s changed for young people.”

On Tyler Green and the possibility of him playing sometime soon:

Shelby: “He’s getting better. I’ll tell you, (he’s) one guy that came in and maybe he wasn’t quite ready. But as he practices, he’s getting faster. He’s going against Ricky Jones every day and we’ve had a couple injuries here, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up having to help us out. Hopefully, that doesn’t happen. He’s one guy that I’m just watching. He’s been very, very quiet, but he’s gonna be very, very good. Very, very good.”

On Fant having a big day after getting challenged this summer:
Shelby: “He had four pass breakups, but he also had two dropped interceptions. It all depends on how you look at it. One hit him in the head, so I don’t know what you say on that. What it is is a guy who’s played a little bit, he’s very athletic and he’ll get tested this week. We’ll see. This quarterback (Brandon Doughty) is up there now just because he knows when to get the ball out. If you ever go to a quarterback camp and see (those guys) — like I went to see the Colts play and you see my man (Andrew) Luck. He knows where it’s coming, he knows where to throw the ball, he knows the adjustments and it’s like clockwork. This young man, he shows that on film. It’s gonna be a fun day, and I’m happy these guys get to play in this type of atmosphere. We’ll get tested early and we’ll see what happens.”

3 comments

  1. These young DBs are going to be a great defensive backfield before too long. They play hard but they need to learn how to tackle at the college level. I love watching these guys play and hope they avoid making mistakes this week. Crawford may have supposed to blitz on his INT but with the players that were blitzing the QB I have to wonder if he didn’t just react to that to be in the position to get the INT.

  2. T, I guess you can’t see their age and the plays they make show their ability but their age and lack of experience causes mistakes. I can see their good plays and see how good they will be when they get enough experience in college.

    If I were talking about how they are now and the steps they have to make, yes they have to be good first, but as a former coach I can tell you they will be great once they gain experience in college.

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