Logan • For those who have questioned Gary Andersen this spring on the strength of his cornerback position, just know that he’s tiring of the inquiries.
Utah State’s coach always felt that criticism of Jumanne Robertson and Nevin Lawson was misplaced a season ago. Now that the two will be starting for the second consecutive year together, Andersen has been quick to defend his upperclassmen.
“I thought we had two good cornerbacks last season,” Andersen said after Thursday morning’s practice. “Those who didn’t think we had good cornerbacks, I genuinely question their football knowledge. That position is the strength of the defense.”
Through this week of spring practice, the position as a whole has gotten better. Yes, Lawson and Robertson have improved in their roles of lockdown corners, but the depth has gotten better as well. Terrence Alston has improved after transferring in from junior college last season. Quinton Byrd is steady in his role at the nickel spot, and Willie Davis proved himself last year, although he will miss most of the remainder of spring with a dislocated elbow.
The meat of the position, however, is the duo of Lawson and Robertson. The two are preparing to play more man-to-man coverage this year, when even more responsibility will be placed on their shoulders.
A few seasons ago, Lawson came to Logan from South Florida and established himself as a freshman. Now a junior, he’s also carrying the burden of leadership.
“We love the talent of this spot,” Lawson said. “We have five guys who can start, and LaDale Jackson is coming in as a redshirt freshman. We think we can come in and play the type of man defense all game. There’s a lot of depth here.”
Not as bad as it could have been
An MRI on Tuesday revealed a sprained knee for Bojay Filimoeatu, a senior linebacker who hurt himself in Monday’s scrimmage. Although Filimoeatu will miss the remainder of the spring, it’s a far better scenario than a torn ACL, which was originally the fear.
Losing him for an extended period would have potentially been devastating for the defense. He was Utah State’s best pass-rusher by the end of last season.
A clear separation
Andersen said Joe Hill has clearly established himself as the second running back behind Kerwynn Williams. Robert Marshall and Joey DeMartino will battle for the third spot.