(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of a preseason series on UCA football, from the players’ perspectives. Interviews were conducted at the close of spring drills. A separate video package, with more player interviews, will be available online later in the summer)
The defensive backfield is projected to be one of the University of Central Arkansas’ strengths going into the 2012 season because of the experience and athletic ability.
The secondary returns almost intact plus the addition of safety Radarious Winston, a starter in 2010 who missed all of last season with a foot injury.
Jestin Love has been a major playmaker the last two years and Dominique Brown, Desmond Wilcox and Karl Brady add experience to the mix while Josh Jones also has made an impact on the depth chart.
Here are some thoughts from some of the major players:
RADARIOUS WINSTON, JR. SAFETY
How does it feel to be back?: “Feels great. It’s the first time I’ve ever missed a snap, much less being out the whole fall. Being back on the field felt great. I’m healthy now (after a foot injury). Last season, I was in meetings and I was in practices, but I couldn’t get out there. I knew exactly what was going on. But seeing every game, seeing every play, seeing every call was tough watching. I knew every call. When a play wasn’t being made, I was mad because I knew what was supposed to be made. It was very difficult.”
What adjustments have you had to make coming back?: “It was sorta different. It was coming back and being more confident after sitting out. I had to adjust to the way I move because of the injury. But once everything started rolling and clicking, I slowly progressed.”
Assessment of defensive backfield: “I’m very confident. Everybody has more experienced. Everybody has a year or two under their belts. We should be able to make some noise because we all should be on the same page. The communication should be much better. The way things are going and we should be able to look at each other and understand what we are saying to each other.”
The overall defense: “We’re faster and more athletic. We are more aggressive and we want to change the way games are played, make more physical than it really is.”
Team outlook: “I have pretty high hopes. I feel we can go deep (in the playoffs) this year. We have all the athleticism in the world. We just haver to get t he job done to get over the hump from Game One.”
MARCUS PETERS, JR., CB
Your assessment of the defensive backfield: “We’re coming along but we have some things to work on, technique and fundamentals. In the spring, we have some problems with the deep ball. We have to work on finding the ball in the air.”
Overall defensive assessment: We are fast and are playing physical with everybody running to the ball.”
How much better a player are you?: “The game has slowed down so I can focus more on the little things. I’m starting to undertstand the plays. I can just play not and not think about what I’m doing.”
What did you learn from playoff experience?: “Just how much harder we’ve got to work. Now we want to see how far we can go rather than just going.”
DOMINQUE BROWN, JR. CORNERBACK
Overall position outlook: “I feel real good about us coming out of spring. We have to stay healthy, play together and be more consistrent. Everything looks good, but I think we have to have carryover from a great summer — for us and the team as a whole.”
Overall defensive outlook: “We have a tradition, last year, every year. we have tradition. Everything looks good coming out of the spring but staying healthy is a key. Everybody knows what to do. We have good team chemistry. We just have to be more consistent.”
Playoff experience last year: “We want to go back. We saw the atmosphere and how the city came together over the team. I think it made us want more and to be in that kind of atmosphere again.”
NEXT: Running backs