Alex Grinch said sophomores Patrick Fields and Delarrin Turner-Yell have solidified themselves at the safety spot after 10 days of fall camp.
The defensive coordinator would prefer to have more competition at the position and hopes to see that sooner rather than later.
On Monday, Grinch said he wants to see the second team and third team push the top group of players at the position.
“Everybody’s better with competition. Across the board. Certainly, we have competition at some points but maybe not as much as we need. We’ve got to get that corrected,” Grinch said. “There’s a message for some of those guys that don’t find themselves with the first group at this moment. If you’re just a two by default, and we wouldn’t put you in a game, you’re just that. You’re just a depth-chart guy. Not truly a rotational player for us.
“We need more of those guys to step up. We’ve got our best 11, gotta find a way to get 22 we can put in a game.”
From the edge
Ruffin McNeill, the interim defensive coordinator of the back half of last season, is in charge of outside linebackers this year.
How are things going?
“Jon-Michael (Terry’s) done a good job, so has Nik Bonnito. David Ugwoegbu has done a good job. Those three really have sort of stood out,” McNeill said. “Young kid, Joseph Wete’s got a chance. He’s got to keep progressing.”
McNeill said he’s been impressed with Grinch’s install of the defense this season.
“Oh, it’s fast. I’m coming from an install (meeting) right now. Fast-paced, really a chaotic pace, almost a ‘fog of war’ pace. So players and coaches have to be on the same point,” McNeill said. “But that’s been a really exciting part about it. The kids understand and grasp the system. I just like the way he handles our kids. Does a great job not just talking to them, but explaining and teaching. Coaching is two things. There’s the part on the field, then there’s the teaching part of it.”
All eyes are on Brendan Radley-Hiles, who moved atop the depth chart at nickel back following Tre Norwood’s season-ending injury last week.
“I commend Bookie up to this point in terms of fall (camp). I think there are several guys that have kind of taken leaps from their performance in spring and he’d probably be number one on that list,” Grinch said. “I believe he’d echo that to you in terms just playing more consistently and playing with more technique, fundamentals all those things. I commend him on that.”
Grinch hated seeing Norwood go down with an injury.
“I feel sick for him. He worked his tail off since we had a chance to start working together in January. He was kind of the Swiss army knife for us in the spring,” Grinch said. “He had a tremendous summer and a couple of good days in fall camp and it’s just unfortunate what happened.
“I will say this: he’s gonna be a tremendous college football player. As you look into the future I couldn’t be more excited about him and I know he’s one of those guys who will attack the rehab and come back and actually be better from it.”