FSU defensive back coach Marcus Woodson met with the media earlier Friday for the first time since the Seminoles started preseason camp. Among the key takeaways from his press conference were that he his happy with the effort from the group and thinks the secondary has the potential to be three-deep at some positions.
“Big-picture-wise, we’ve done a really good job as far as coming to work and just trying to compete and get better,” Woodson said of his group a week into camp. “The biggest area of improvement for us is just being great at the things that require no talent. Controlling the things that we can control and doing that to the best of our ability. I do like the way we competed and made some plays on the field, but we’ve still got a long way to go in a short period of time.”
He also believes that from a talent and potential standpoint this may be the deepest group he has ever coached and he plans to move players around in the secondary during camp.
“We will definitely work as a unit this year,” Woodson said in regards to how he will utilize his personnel. “I have more depth with this secondary than I’ve ever experienced. We will be deep. We are three-deep at certain positions with guys that we feel good about. So it is going to be a collective deal. Not a lot of rotating within a series, but by series. I’m excited about the depth. Honestly, competition brings out the best in you and knowing that the guy behind you is just as good allows you to be the best player you can be. I’m excited about the depth that we have and, knock on wood, we continue to stay healthy and keep progressing.”
Woodson did say that there were still players that needed to show that they are up to the task in game situations and he is looking forward to seeing who steps up in the Seminoles’ first scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday night.
“A lot of guys look really good with just helmets on,” said Woodson. “Once you start including physicality and the full contact of everything, things start changing. I’m anxious to see how the guys respond to putting it all together and putting them in a game-type situation. We are going to be in Doak Campbell tomorrow, full padded practice, under the lights, so you learn a lot about your players and get a lot of good information at that point. We will know more about where we stand tomorrow night than what we do right. I just look forward to seeing them go out and compete.”
One proven commodity for Woodson in Jaiden Lars-Woodbey, who is returning to the secondary at the BUCK position, which is part-safety, part-weakside safety after being asked to play inside linebacker by former head coach Willie Taggart.
“Jaiden is very consistent,” said Woodson of the redshirt sophomore. “Very reliable. Very dependable. And he is a really good player. He fits the Buck position that we are playing him at. His strength is physicality. We will be getting him involved a lot with the running game as well. And he is not a liability in terms of coverage. I’m excited to have Jaiden. He is doing a really good job as far as being a leader by his actions. I’m continuing to challenge him to be more of a vocal leader as well. But I’m excited with where Jaiden is at and he definitely shows up every day to come and work. Arguably the most consistent player in the room for sure.”
Woodson will also be able to take advantage of some experienced depth at cornerback with the addition of FAU senior graduate transfer Meiko Dotson and Mississippi State transfer Jarrian Jones, who will be a sophomore.
“In terms of the newcomers, those guys are really doing a good job standing out,” said Woodson of the transfers and true freshmen who arrived on-campus earlier this summer. “Jarrian Jones, Meiko Dotson, both those guys have done a phenomenal job in terms of playing within the framework of the defense and making plays. Both of those guys have really stood out.”
“The experience part definitely stands out,” said Woodson when asked about Dotson and Jones being able to provide immediate help in the secondary if not earn a starting position. “Those guys are really good in pressure situations because they have been in that with the experience. In terms of the technique and fundamentals, the good things for both of those guys, there has been a lot of carryover from what they’ve done at previous institutions to what we do now. Just some little things that they have had to adjust to in terms of what I am teaching compared to what they have been taught. But, again, they learn quick. They are some guys that if you tell them once and they’ve got it. It has been a really smooth transition in terms of picking up what we do and how we do it.”
One underclassmen that has caught Woodson’s eye is Travis Jay. The redshirt freshman is considered one the best athletes FSU has signed in its last two recruiting classes and his new secondary coach sees a bright future for his young and versatile defensive back.
“Not at all,” said Woodson of Jay potentially being rusty coming off a redshirt season. “Obviously, fundamentally and technique-wise he has got to continue to be consistent with that, but talent is not an issue. Travis is probably one of the most gifted young men I’ve ever coached in my 16 years of coaching. The future is really bright with Travis. Again, the main thing with him is lIke I’m telling everybody in the room, let’s be great at the things that require no talent. He has all the talent in the world. He is a kid that can play any position in the secondary. He is sharp. He understands the game. He has been doing a really good job in terms of special teams as well. He will definitely be an impact player for us. Obviously the experience is going to help him. He will be better in game nine than he will be in game one, because he didn’t play last year. But I like where he is at, but again he still has a lot of fundamental things that we‘ve got to clean up. I’m impressed with Travis and I’m excited to get the chance to coach him.”