(This is the sixth installment of a position-by-position Q&A with UCA football players as they break for the summer. Interviews were conducted with selected players after spring drills).
The University of Central Arkansas defensive backfield is dotted with veterans, one of the deepest areas on the team.
The veterans made progress during the spring and several newcomers popped into the picture.
Cornerback Marcus Peters has played about 30 games in his UCA career.
6-0, 208, SR.,
How much better are you going into this season?
"I’ve improved knowledge-wise, just being smart about the game. The game has slowed down in my mind. I feel like I can be the quarterback of the defense now."
How do you feel about defensive backfield?
We have some depth. We have some young kids eager to contribute and a lot of kids who can go man-on-man, so we can bring a lot more pressure."
What do you like about safety?
"Overall, it’s a hard-hitting position. I get the best of both worlds. I can go up and hit if I want to. I can come back and cover if I want to. I just feel like you have to be a jack of all trades."
You like the pressure situations don’t you?
"I feel like if somebody is gonna call my number, I’ll be ready."
How do you feel about this defense overall?
"I feel like we can be a top-tier defense again. Even though we did lose some D-linemen. We have young guys ready to play."
What have you learned from the playoff experience?
It’s a different game. Everybody has to contribute. You are playing against better teams. We can’t afford to come out slowly like we did sometimes in the regular season. In the playoffs, we didn’t play complete games. We tried to rely more on talent."
Do you have confidence that you can play with the good teams on your level?
"Anytime you see the team you beat (Sam Houston State) playing for the national championship, you have some type of way that you should be there. Watching that game made me feel we should have been competing against them or competing against North Dakota. We also know what we’ve got to do this year. We know what it takes. We know we can’t take any team for granted. After we beat Sam Houston, we lost to SFA. That hurt and humbled us at the same time."
5-9, 192 Sr., CB
How much better are you going into your senior year?
"I’m more mature. I feel like the scheme fits me."
How do you feel about the secondary?
We’re deeper than we’ve been the last couple of years. We have a bunch of young guys who are ready to contribute. We have a bunch of experience, which is the most important thing you need in the back."
How do you feel about the overall defense?
"With the d-line and linebackers, we feel like we can get some pressure. We’re returning a bunch of people. We lost some key guys but I feel we will be pretty good."
What did you learn from last year?
"I think everybody had a bad taste in their mouth the way last season ended. We left some things on the table. I feel like we can get past that second round. We have the confidence, but we can’t look on too much of the past."
What about the chemistry?
"It’s not like we go out and play with a lot of individual things. It’s like a team, a family. I can count on anybody on this team, not just the defensive guys. We are like brothers. The most important thing is the chemistry, which will play a vital role on the field."
6-2, 195, Sr., CB
How much better are you going into your senior season?
"From freshman to senior, I feel like I’ve come a long way. I’ve learned about the game, more physical, more mature. I think I’ve gained a lot more confidence."
What are you working on now?
"Trying to be more stronger, more physical, a better all-around player."
How do you feel about the secondary?
"We have a lot of seniors and a lot of experience and we’re coming along pretty good. We played more man in the spring and it helped us. We rose more to the challenge of playing man."
Overall, how do you feel about the defense?
"We have a lot of talent and we’re pretty fast, a lot of speed. We can have a pretty big year if we stay focused."
What have you learned that could take you past the second round of the playoffs?
"We learned not to settle not to just get the playoffs. We know we can make it."
POSITON ANALYSIS: Deep with a nice mixture of experience and up-and-comers. Jestin Love and Marcus Peters are proven playmakers.