“We are still in the honeymoon,” the Tigers’ new defensive coordinator said after Saturday’s practice.
Defensive end Malliciah Goodman isn’t sure he would relate the first two days of camp to a honeymoon, but he says things are going well and the retention level from the spring has been very good.
“I don’t know what type of honeymoon he is talking about; it is pretty intense out there,” Goodman said. “I’m pretty sure things will get a little bit rougher though.
“We put in a lot of work this summer. Guys were being accountable for each other. If somebody is not giving their all, you tell them. If someone is struggling, you run beside them and keep talking to them and give them that positive energy. Our focus is where it needs to be. You don’t want to come out to practice and have guys joking around or talking. You want to have all the guys focused on getting better.”
The players’ focus, says Venables, has been very noticeable the first two days of practice.
“You can see the guys have really worked at it this summer,” he said. “They put themselves in the right place mentally. The most pleasing part is that you don’t have to start over from a mental standpoint. That comes from great maturity and great leadership.
“I think we have great leadership and that is coming from the front end at linebacker and in the back end.”
Some of that leadership is coming from sophomore linebacker Stephone Anthony, who says it comes with the territory with being the starting middle linebacker.
“You have to be hungry and you have to have the mindset that you can lead,” he said. “You have to be the quarterback of the defense. If you are playing well, you have to make your energy go towards the rest of the defense.”
Corico Wright, who has started the last two seasons at middle linebacker before moving to weak side in the spring, said this summer was much better because the players are all a year older.
“We had a lot of young guys last year, freshmen and redshirt freshmen,” he said. “This year they are all sophomores. They understand things better. They understand they have to run to the football better. They understand they have to study.
“Those guys have really come on and we really need those guys because we still have a young team. They are going to be the key, and I have to admit they have been pulling their own. They have been working throughout the spring and the summer and it has carried over into camp. I think they are doing a great job.”
It’s a situation where the younger players are following the lead of the senior veterans like Goodman and Wright.
“To be a leader you have to lead by example, and I try to do a lot of that,” Wright said. “I make sure I keep my nose clean and that I’m on time to things. When you stick your neck out there and you want to be a leader, they are going to be watching you.
“You have to hold up your part too. You need to text guys and tell them to come in and watch film, and stay on to them about running to the football and picking things up a little bit better. Those are the things that make a leader.”
And those are the things that have allowed the honeymoon to last just a little longer than Venables expected.
- Photo courtesy of CU Athletics