Utah State seeing progress from safety Maurice Alexander
Logan • Through two games this season, Maurice Alexander has made his impact felt.
Rejoining Utah State this year, Alexander has been trying to make up for lost time. He's third on team with 16 tackles, he has 1.5 sacks, another tackle for a loss, and four passes broken or deflected.
But while the numbers speak to his effort early, he has also been picked on in his first season as a safety. During the Utah game, a few of his breakdowns - either being out of position or losing "eye control" - led to big gains up the middle.
Air Force was better, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said, but the Aggies are being patient with Alexander, whom they call "Mo."
"He's getting better, the thing is he just needs more reps," said Orlando, who also coaches safeties. "He needs to see things at a fast speed and do them over and over again."
Repetition is definitely a key for Alexander, who came to Utah State as a linebacker. In his junior season, he started eight games and racked up 45 tackles with seven tackles for a loss.
Teammates often picked him out as a breakout player. The fleet-footed, 6-foot-2 Alexander certainly has athletic talent, as he showed playing in the secondary as well as lining up at linebacker to help stop the run against Air Force.
"People forget that he hasn't played for a year and a half. And he played a position that wasn't in the back end," Orlando said. "It's just continuing. When Mo really focuses on what he's doing, he's a very, very good player. He's explosive, he can tackle, he can blitz - he can do a lot of things for you."
That versatility is what continues to give the Aggies hope that Alexander will be an overall playmaking plus for the defense. Some match-ups with potentially dangerous quarterbacks and passing offenses are coming up, and Alexander acknowledged last week in practice he needs to get better in his pass coverage.
Orlando, for one, believes that will happen. It's just a work in progress.
"Mo's been doing it out here, and I really like the way he goes about it," he said. "He's very prideful. When he makes a mistake, he doesn't sit there and brush it off. He takes it really personally and he tries to do better."
Kyle Goonkgoon@sltrib.comTwitter: @kylegoon