There were a number of defensive backs who stood out in Week 1 of the 2019 college football campaign. We take a look at seven who made their respective marks.
Saeed Holt 6’0 195 DB-Sophomore Toledo
Notable stats vs. Kentucky, 8-31-19: 10 tackles, TFL
The Rockets used Holt in a number of ways around the line of scrimmage and in coverage. He closed off the edge late in the first quarter to record a tackle for loss one play after coming up to deliver a shot versus Kentucky 6-foot-6, 247-pound freshman tight end Keaton Upshaw in the flats. For a team that lost two of its better players from its 2018 secondary –CB Ka’dar Hollman (6th round, 185th overall, 2019 NFL Draft, Green Bay Packers) and S Josh Teachey– Holt’s 10 tackles and one tackle for loss provided relief for defensive coordinator Brian George.
Notable stats vs. Purdue, 8-30-19:
- 6 Tyson Williams 5’9 195 DB-Sophomore: 12 tackles
- 25 Daniel Brown 5’11 185 DB-Senior: 5 tackles, TFL, 2 INTs and PBU
- 1 Berdale Robins 5’9 185 DB-Junior: One tackle, 3 PBUs
- 4 EJ Muhammed 5’11 190 DB-Senior: 10 tackles, FF
- 5 Emany Johnson 6’2 210 DB-Freshman: 7 tackles
The Wolf Pack defensive backs entered last Friday night’s contest against Purdue knowing that they would have a tough test. Aside from having to slow down Boilermakers All-American sophomore receiver Rondale Moore, the team also had to slow down All-Big Ten tight end Brycen Hopkins and two four-star recruits in freshmen David Bell and Milton Wright. Defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 stack defensive requires multiple roles for a number of defensive backs. Each of the five aforementioned names had big impacts.
Brown displayed good feet and eye discipline in zone coverage early in the game on a key red zone pass break-up off of a wheel concept to Purdue slot receiver Jackson Anthrop. He matched his career interception total with a slick grab off of an ill-advised third down and 10 throw by Purdue quarterback Elijah Sindelar. The senior cornerback then grabbed his second interception of the game with at the 0:38 mark of the fourth quarter to set up Nevada’s game-winning field goal. Nevada used a three-deep zone where Johnson broke from the deep one-third to knock away a Sindelar pass intended for freshman receiver Bell. The tip resulted in Brown’s second theft.
Muhammed -who started two games in 2018 before going down to injury- tackled with intensity most of the night. He forced and recovered his own strip off of Wright in the second quarter to stop a Purdue offensive drive. The tackling of he, Robins and Williams helped stymie much of Purdue’s offensive attack in the second half. Moore was limited to just three receptions for 10 yards in the second stanza of the game. In addition, Sindelar completed just 3-of-9 passes for 10 yards and one interception in the fourth quarter.
Myles Wolfolk 5’11 205 DB-Junior North Carolina
Notable: 6 tackles, 2 INTs (33 yards)
New North Carolina defensive coordinator Jay Bateman knew he would need a big game from his secondary to slow down the South Carolina offensive attack led by quarterback Jake Bentley. Wolfolk delivered in a big way. After initially starting his career as a nickel corner/linebacker for the Tar Heels, he has since moved full-time to the safety position. Coming off an injury-plagued 2018 campaign, the junior safety twice earned the team’s new turnover championship belt with interceptions off Bentley. On the game-winning pick, the former high school wideout displayed the ability to bait the Gamecock quarterback. On a third down and 10 from the North Carolina 26-yard line, Bateman ran a version of a zone blitz (brought four rushers and dropped his strong defensive end into the middle hook area) which tasks Wolfolk with curl-flat responsibility towards the short side of the field. After he took his initial drop, Bentley thought he had an open crossing route to his No. 4 receiver (coming from the strong side) because Wolfolk stayed outside the numbers to the weak side No. 1 X-receiver while reading the quarterback’s eyes. As soon as Bentley let go of the ball, the former high school wideout took a B-line path to the crossing route and picked it off with ease. The pick sealed the win for the Tar Heels and got the ACC a much-needed victory over an SEC opponent in head coach Mack Brown’s return to Chapel Hill.
“We’re all aiming to get this (belt) every week,” Wolfolk explained while wearing the turnover belt in the locker room after the game. “This week was mine and I’m blessed to say it.” https://www.thestate.com/sports/college/acc/article234615997.html