April 1, 2010
RUSTON, La. - As the Louisiana Tech football team works through its first spring practice season with new head coach Sonny Dykes, LATechSports.com will be taking a look at the progress of various positions on the team. Sixth in this series of installments is a look at the cornerbacks with new cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis.
Despite losing the loss of Deon Young, Louisiana Tech is expected to have a group of cornerbacks that should challenge the best offenses in the Western Athletic Conference in 2010.
The cornerbacks have risen to the challenge throughout the spring 2010 practices, facing a new, fast-paced, no-huddle offense that rarely gives them a chance to rest.
"I think they are doing a good job of listening and competing," said Louisiana Tech cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis. "We are getting better. Vic [Josh Victorian] is doing a good job of concentrating on following with his eyes and his feet and he is improving every day. TC [Terry Carter] is a guy that has a certain amount of speed but he is learning to use his feet. All of those guys are working. Guys like Olajuwon Paige and DeMarcion Evans are working hard and making plays."
"Every day we are building depth because those guys are getting more confidence and understanding how to play the game," continued Curtis. "As a corner back, you have to have a short memory but you also have to have the confidence in yourself as you are lining up man-to-man against a guy that knows what he's doing. We're at a disadvantage at that point but our guys are competing and getting better and you see that every day. The offense we're going against is tough and has a group of wide receivers with a lot of speed and talent."
Terry Carter, the "Fastest Man in the WAC," was fourth on the team in tackles last season with 45 total stop. Carter earned the dubious honor after in May 2009 this two-sport athlete won the Western Athletic Conference Championship in the 100m dash. Carter is able to utilize his speed when defending against a quality receiver like he sees in practice every day.
"His speed allows Terry to be in position and to catch up with somebody," Curtis explained. "He is getting better with his feet and with his initial footwork and press but his speed allows him to stay on top of it because he is so fast. When you mix the pure speed with the good footwork, you can create something that is really special, as long as he keeps working and works on his craft."
"He has the ability and we are trying to take the potential and turn it into production. He has done a good job of that so far but he just has to stay hungry and be a man on a mission."
While Terry Carter is building his game around his speed, Josh Victorian is developing a nose for the ball. Victorian came on midway through the season last year, recording three interceptions in 2009 including one against No. 5 Boise State that he ran back 75 yards for a touchdown.
"Josh Victorian came out with a sense of urgency [this spring]," Curtis said. "This is his senior year and he is doing things right. His eyes are right, he is working on his press technique and those guys are staying after a little bit and working on this stuff and practicing every little thing. They have bought in and he keeps working. The more plays he makes, the more confidence he builds and he wants to be there, to jump in and make plays. If he keeps doing what he has been doing, he will be on pace to have a chance to have a real good season."
Together, Carter and Victorian create a strong starting line-up for the Bulldogs at corner.
"You could see when watching film that they have potential," Curtis said. "They didn't always play the most disciplined ball and things of that nature but I think they have really focused in doing everything right. You have to be a person that is consistent in this position and they have been more consistent over this spring and that's why they have stood out."
"They made good plays here and there throughout their career but now they are making more consistent plays," continued Curtis. "Even the plays they aren't making - the ball is not getting thrown their way because they are doing a good job of covering the receiver. They are doing a good job with their technique and they are getting better and that is something we just have to keep working on. They do a really good job of focusing, listening and being good leaders."
Behind Carter and Victorian are a group of guys that are challenging for some playing time.
"I think they are doing a good job of listening and competing," commented Curtis. "We are getting better. All of those guys are working. Guys like Olajuwon Paige and DeMarcion Evans are working hard and making plays. Every day we are building depth because those guys are getting more confidence and understanding how to play the game."
Paige showed signs of talent in Thursday's scrimmage with a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown, picking off Steven Ensminger.
"As a corner back, you have to have a short memory but you also have to have the confidence in yourself as you are lining up man-to-man against a guy that knows what he's doing," added Curtis. "We're at a disadvantage at that point but our guys are competing and getting better and you see that every day. The offense we're going against is tough and has a group of wide receivers with a lot of speed and talent."
The cornerbacks have talent and are building depth and that depth should continue to grow when the new signees report to campus over the summer and in the fall. No matter who is on the field, the key message is consistency and fundamentals.
"I had a chance to watch some film before spring practice started and I wanted us to be a more consistent group," Curtis said. "We have talent here but it is just being more consistent and those guys are becoming more consistent. It has been great, they have been great and they are working hard and listening. From day one I had their ears and their eyes and they have been open to working on the little things we're doing. I appreciate their hard work. We still have a lot of work ahead of us but we have come a long way, in my opinion."
Fans don't have to wait until the T-Day Spring Game to get their first glimpse of Tech's special teams in action as all practices are open to the public. Bulldog fans are encouraged to attend the next practice, which will be held at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6 at Joe Aillet Stadium. The T-Day Spring Game is slated for noon on Saturday, April 10 at Joe Aillet Stadium.
For the most comprehensive coverage of Louisiana Tech's spring football practices, check out the Spring Football Central at LATechSports.com. For complete coverage of Bulldog Football, please visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.