The Roost also caught up with Coastal Carolina defensive coordinator Clayton Carlin to get an overview and outlook heading into the start of fall camp.
The Chanticleers have been inconsistent defensively in Carlin's first two seasons -- but not without their moments -- and steadier play on that side of the ball is perhaps the biggest key for the team this season.
Here's what he had to say:
What gives you confidence or optimism that the defense can take a leap forward this year?
Carlin: "We're in the third year of the system, we've got guys that have been [here] for three years so I think there should be a natural big step forward in year three. You've got Quinn Backus, who has been with you for three years, and Denzel Rice, who has been with you for three years, all those guys, Richie Sampson, Pernell Williams. They know what the expectations are, they know the terminology and we had a heck of a spring so hopefully we can keep it going."
Speaking of Quinn Backus, he said that some things in the defense have been simplified this season. Could you speak to the evaluations you made in the offseason and what changes were made?
Carlin: "It starts with the run. I've always said that. We didn't do very well against the run last year, so we simplified some things in terms of our run fits and things like that. Some guys were just more sure of where to go, and if you're more sure you can play faster. Maybe sometimes last year, we made the mistake of making it too confusing to where it slows them down. I agree with Quinn, we did simplify things, and hopefully it pays off -- particularly against the run."
Is there a position battle that stands out the most to you this month?
Carlin: "I'm anxious to see how some of these new guys will do, particularly the transfers. I'm anxious to get them out there, see how it goes. You've got a fair amount of experience back, but I've always told you, the more guys we can play the better. I think there will be some battles. At the corner spot, you've got Denzel [Rice] back and Kam [Summers] really came on at the end of last season. So can he continue to grow? And who's the third corner? You've got to have three or four ready to go. Who's the nickle -- LaDarius [Hawthorne] left. We brought in Kyle Fleetwood [as a transfer from South Carolina], so that will be interesting how it will all play itself out."
Coastal has had luck with South Carolina transfers before. How do you see Fleetwood fitting in initially?
Carlin: "I see him fitting in good -- that's why we got him here. It will be interesting to see how quickly he picks up things. He seems to be a pretty sharp guy. He's been here for x amount of weeks, and we're going to throw him into the fire and see how he responds. He's played some, so that's good."
I keep hearing buzz about defensive tackle Leroy Cummings ...
Carlin: "Yep, he's going to be a key guy for us. He sat out last year [after transferring from Savannah State]. He had a good spring, good summer. It should be a nice deal between him and [Marcus] Crowder inside there."
Lastly, any health concerns entering camp?
Carlin: "We're good. We're good to go. We're healthy and ready to go. It's up to us to keep them that way."
| Ryan Young, firstname.lastname@example.org