University of South Florida defensive backs coach Rick Smith is happy with the depth and talent in his secondary this year, though that's not always been the case.
Smith confidently said if he needed to name a nickelback coverage unit today, he would put Kayvon Webster and George Baker at CB, JaQuez Jenkins and Mark Joyce at safety and Ernie Tabuteau as the nickelback, a collective group he's comfortable with.
"I'm very comfortable with that group," Smith said. "It hasn't always been that way."
Smith said that the offensive talent on the other side of the ball has helped his secondary immensely.
"Overall, I think the receiving corps is better, the tight ends are better, (QB B.J.) Daniels is playing pretty well," he said. "I think we're going to be better on offense and we're going to be better on defense. … The better the receivers, the better we are and they're hard to cover."
Freshman CB Chris Bivins is ahead of schedule in his recovery from offseason ACL surgery, but Smith gave him the night off Monday to relax as he's been sore in recent days.
MORE MATURE SHAW: In being listed as a co-starter at RB, junior Marcus Shaw has shown his improvements on the field, but running backs coach Larry Scott said Shaw has also dramatically improved off the field.
"Talent at this level is not going to cut it," Scott said. "The biggest part (of his improvement) is just the maturation part. … Getting guys to understand how to go to class and do all those things right and become the player you want to become starts with doing all the things right on and off the field."