The foundation of any successful defense is the secondary. Of course, I am going to use this as a chance to plug my personal favorite NFL secondary, the Legion of Boom. The L.O.B. is a dynamic and smothering secondary that allows the Seattle Seahawks defense to stymie their opponents and set the tone in a pass happy league. As an Independent, BYU's schedule is heavy on opponents who use misdirection and the spread offense, and the secondary needs to step up big time in order to help make the season a success. Using the media day depth chart from our friend Mitch Harper over at Lawless Republic, I was able to go through our DBs and let us know what we can expect from our guys going forward.
Craig Bills, SS
Thankfully, the Cougars have some players who are definitely up to the task of holding down the back end of the field, and it all starts with their strong safety, Craig Bills. The strong safety is a tone setter, he helps the defense impose their will by flying around the field and making plays in both the passing game and the running game. Bills may lack the size of prototypical rover at the strong safety position, but he plays much bigger than his size. He loves contact, and clearly studies film, because he's always around the ball. A big hit will demoralize an opponent, and invigorate the defense. Physicality is the signature of a defense, psychological warfare that will help them to dominate their opponents. Bills returns off of a successful junior campaign wherein he recorded four turnovers (two fumble recoveries, two interceptions), finished with 79 tackles, and was named first team all independent by Phil Steele at strong safety. Expect big things from Bills as he continues to lead that secondary as the bell cow.
Skye PoVey, FS
PoVey is the center fielder. A free safety is just that for your secondary, a safety valve. You want your safety to be able to tackle in the open field, and to keep other teams from completing the deep ball. PoVey finished last season with 50 tackles, yet finished with only one interception, and you'd like to see more passes defensed from your over the top man.
Robertson Daniel, BC
Daniel is listed first on the depth chart at the boundary side corner position. This means that most likely he will be matched up one on one with either the other team's flanker or split end depending on formation, usually the two most dangerous receiving threats on the field for the offense. Think of him as our Richard Sherman, and his length definitely will help him defend the fade. Even though he spent most of last season at the field side corner position, Daniel has proven that he's more than capable of defending the perimeter, and keeping the sideline locked down. He defended nine passes last season, in addition to forcing two fumbles, 66 tackles, and tying Bills for the lead in interceptions with two as well. I'm excited to see what Daniel can do this season with less safety help over the top.
Jordan Johnson, FC
The last of the starting four defensive backs is Jordan Johnson. Johnson is coming off of a season ending injury during his junior campaign, but had one of the better sophomore campaigns in recent memory with 48 tackles and 15 passes defensed en route to an All-Independent selection from Phil Steele.
Nickel and Others
Of course, there are more defensive backs on the team than just these four, and the depth is important. The nickel corner is a position that should be filled by the team's third corner, but sometimes, depending on size and skill level, another player might be better at covering the slot receiver. Candidates for the nickel corner include junior Trent Trammel. If he doesn't redshirt, freshman Michael Shelton may also be a candidate for the nickel position.
The defensive back position looks pretty solid on this team. I feel that if the Cougars can generate a good pass rush, then they will do a great job keeping the points down and easing the pressure on the offense to win games on their own.