Louisville wide receiver Dez Fitpatrick received some attention for his comments about Alabama’s secondary last week. Fitzpatrick, a sophomore receiver who caught 45 passes for 699 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman, said he thought the Cardinals’ receivers had an advantage against Alabama’s defensive backs.
“Every receiver in our receiving corps can honestly beat every one of their DBs in one-on-one coverage,” Fitzpatrick said. “It ties into the other stuff, if the blocks are right, if the quarterback’s drop is right, if we ran an eight-yard route instead of a 10-yard route, that’s the kind of stuff I feel like we need to sharpen up. But straight talent-wise, I feel like we have the upper edge against the secondary. One thousand percent.”
But his comments didn’t register much reaction from the players he had aimed at.
“We’re not focused on that right now,” cornerback Trevon Diggs said two days later, on Wednesday. “We’re in camp, you know, just working hard and staying focused, just working on camp right now.”
Diggs has as good a chance as any player to be a starter against the Cardinals on Sept. 1. Coach Nick Saban said on Thursday that Diggs and sophomore Xavier McKinney have been the most consistent players in the back end of the defense. Other positions still aren’t solidified, Saban said.
The secondary didn’t earn a rave review from Saban after Saturday’s scrimmage, either.
“They gave up a lot of big plays and made a lot of mental errors,” Saban said. “I’m not pointing out anybody or anything, but we need to do better.”
Diggs has made progress since last season, when he was also competing for a starting cornerback job but was ultimately beaten by Levi Wallace. This is his second full year working in the secondary after spending part of the 2016 season playing wide receiver.
He spent last fall needing teammates to tell him what to do, he said. This year, he can put his teammates in the right position and make calls himself.
Saban said in spring that Diggs had a tendency to watch the quarterback rather than his man. That’s something else he’s had to improve at.
“In high school, you can look at the quarterback and pick the ball,” Diggs said. “But, in college, especially with the quarterbacks we’ve got now, they’ll look this way and throw it that way and you’ll be out of position and miss it. So it’s not good to look at the quarterback.”
It took Diggs more than a year of sticking at defensive back in college before he started to become at ease with the position. Some of his teammates are making that adjustment now, and he’s trying to help them.
“I knew the position, I just didn’t know the plays,” he said. “It’s like you know one thing, but you can’t really do it because you don’t really know. Once you get the plays and stuff taken care of everything starts falling into place. It’s an easy turnover once I got everything, and I feel more comfortable.”
Reach Ben Jones at email@example.com or 205-722-0196.