Youth in Michigan secondary means more teaching for Brian Smith

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ANN ARBOR -- Brian Smith didn't even want to entertain questions Monday pertaining to suspended Florida wide receiver Antonio Callaway, and for good reason.
The second-year coach at Michigan has his work cut out for him with a young, and unproven, secondary group.
"It's a lot of teaching of fundamentals and footwork at this point," Smith said. "Guys coming in from high school, they're used to doing things a certain way.
"Instead of just teaching them the way we do it and our base fundamentals, we're breaking some bad habits. That's a lot of it right now."
Well documented by now, Michigan will be young in the defensive backfield in 2017. Two sophomores, Lavert Hill and David Long, are in the running for serious playing time at cornerback.
Meanwhile, the projected starters at safety, junior Tyree Kinnel and sophomore Josh Metellus, have combined for zero starts. And Metellus is still transitioning from linebacker.
"He's done a good job communicating back there," Smith said of Metellus. "He along with Tyree, they've kind of been our leaders as far as the communication is concerned. He's the guy that competes."
Beyond that stands a long line of question marks. Junior Brandon Watson and sophomore Keith Washington will be expected to contribute at corner.
Among the true freshmen, four-star corner Ambry Thomas has earned rave reviews in camp. Jaylen Kelly-Powell could contribute at safety. Even J'Marick Woods "is looking good," Smith said.
But a learning curve remains, and Smith, a former NFL assistant coach, has spent a bulk of the first two weeks hammering home recognition and technique rather than emphasizing schemes.
"You almost start from scratch in some instances, as far as fundamentals you have to teach," Smith said. "You have to spend a little more time on it. So, I think there's a little bit more of a difference."
How it all plays out come Sept. 2 against remains to be seen, but it will be a tough act to duplicate last season. Michigan's pass-defense efficiency ranked first in the Big Ten, allowing a league-fewest 1,853 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The goal this time around?
"Creating more turnovers," Smith said. "When we have an opportunity to get a turnover, be it an interception or fumble, that's something we Greg Mancz Womens Jersey focused on and want to get more of this year.
"When there's a big play out on the field, an explosive run or pass play, that's kind of on us. We're the last line of defense."
Posted 18 Aug 2017

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