Battle At Boundary Corner: Bradley, Aguirre and Thomas

Brett RichinsSenior Analyst IAugust 13, 2009

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 16:  Wide receiver Bart Johnson #6 of the TCU Horned Frogs runs against Brandon Bradley #5 of the BYU Cougars at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 16, 2008 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Brandon Bradley 6-0 200

Brandon Bradley is a playmaker with good speed, great size and good instincts.  His jam off of the LOS is good but overly aggressive at times.  When he lunges and doesn’t get a hand on the WR he has trouble transitioning his hips into his sprint. 

Despite this, he does have great make up speed, as we’ve seen in a few games where that long stride of his has ran down receivers. With another year under his belt his instinctive play will improve because hopefully, he will no longer have to think about the scheme. Instead he will be at the right place at the right time and make plays.  He and Scottie Johnson were the only (play makers) in the secondary last year.

I was a little disappointed that he didn’t get a pick last year, but we must remember that he had limited reps through more than half of the season.

The two cringing thoughts I had of my boy Bradley last year, occurred during the Utah game before half and the quick slant in Vegas vs. UofA that he almost gave up for a touchdown.   

His mistake was not physical so much as it was mental.  Remember, college football is an emotional roller coaster driven by momentum.  These are young kids that get their dobber down or up quickly.  After a huge momentum shift, especially on the 40 yard line or so coming in, as a DB you must be thinking, fade or post…period!—He didn’t and got beat.

The biggest negative with Big B is that he is a top heavy corner.  Meaning most of his weight is in his upper body. This makes it hard for his transitions and hip swivel to be quick and efficient.   Your center of gravity is a bit thrown off, and your core has to work hard to stabilize your body throughout your breaks. 

Many times as he is in a full speed back peddle and wants to plant to come forward he will step back into what we call (the bucket), and literally stop for a second before thrusting himself forward.

How do I know this?  Other than the fact that I see it, I was also a top heavy corner and had to adjust my technique when coming out of breaks at certain times.

I expect him to start, but Lee will push him to become a better player and create some competition at the boundary spot.

Lee Aguirre 5-9 200

The first thing that pops out to me on film is that quite honestly, he understands that he is short and people want to take advantage of that. Now let me finish, when there is a bigger receiver lined up across from him, he knows they want to throw the fade route.   He had numerous int’s due to under thrown balls on deep routes. 

The second thing I noticed is that he also uses the Shuffle technique.   He hardly ever back peddles in coverage.  He puts his butt to the sideline and shuffles.  Coach Hill hates this technique and will try to convert him to the back paddle.  Justin Robinson tried to use the shuffle technique, as did G Pittman.  The fact is, Coach Hill will not allow it.  The reason why he hates it so much is because you will give up the post pattern every time with this technique.

As a corner back you must never give up the post or the fade….Period.   In our scheme, many times we will double cover the post just to make sure the quarterbacks will go to their checkdowns.

Lee has good initial explosion.  His first ten yards are impressive, but he lacks the 5th gear that Brandon Bradley does have.  He is not afraid to sacrifice the body, as seen as he sacrifices his body on punt, field goals blocks, and going helmet to helmet with opponents.  He looked good on the LOS.

He was able to jam effectively without lunging towards the receiver.  Even larger receivers were unable to push him back as they attempted to drive forward into their routes.

Physically, he carries a lot of his weight in his legs.  This helps him keep a low center of gravity.  He usually does a hop plant when breaking forward.  What this means essentially is that he does a plyometric jump horizontally toward his target with both feet, as opposed to just planting with one foot and driving towards his target.

He sees field well.  On a few occasions he came off his man to make tackles.   His WR would run a steak or post while the #2 receiver to his side would run a deep out under it.  As a boundary corner you have to do this effectively because of the zones we play.

Lee plays down hill.  Fills well on the crack play and plays off cut blocks well.  

This is important because its an inevitable reality: The WR’s in the MWC enjoy cut blocking.   Lee constantly looks at the quarterback to get his reads and then reacts accordingly. He makes plays because of this, but at the next level he will be very susceptible to double moves.   

I’m sure he’s already been beat on a few occasions in practice and has lost confidence in his technique.  On top of that coach Hill has given him an earful.

In conclusion, you must understand that at the JC level your offensive lines are not as good and everyone is blitzing.  Hence not as many double moves, and you have quick throws.  If you’re a playmaker, you will have a lot of int’s, heck I had 5 int’s and I wasn’t even that good in JC. 

This, coupled with mediocre qb’s Lee was able to use his skill set and make plays and he will continue to do so, but he will have some trouble transitioning to the speed of the game and locking onto a receiver for more than 2 seconds.

Great move to get him at boundary corner.   He will need to get in shape, but will add good depth and talent at that position.

Steven Thomas 5-11 176

Thomas is a great athlete.  He takes off his shirt and all you see is protruding strands and slabs of muscle.  Steven has good feet, explosive at times, and he can tackle well.  He initially came in as a safety. 

But genetics have made him stagnate at 176 lbs, so I don’t see him moving back there anytime soon.  I think his skill set and his “down hill” mentality is actually better suited for Free Safety though.

This kid isn’t afraid of contact and will readily stick his head in against larger opponents. Last year he saw most of his time on special teams, and faired decently.  He would occasionally get beat as the DB on punt return, but showed promise.  He also got some time in the CSU game.  He made a great PBU on a dig route. 

I was really proud of him until he gave up a post pattern, then over pursued, missed the tackle, which ultimately ended in a touchdown for the opposing team.  He unfortunately didn’t get much PT after that.

The problem with Steven is not his ability to play football, but his hesitancy to trust what he sees.   He worries that he’ll make the mistake instead of just making a decision and going with a full head of steam.  He looked uncomfortable on film.  I don’t think he’ll get much pt this year. 

I told him before the off season started that if he didn’t put in the necessary time to get more athletic and to grasp the schemes better, he wouldn’t vie for the starting position at boundary corner.  There is just too much competition and they have more game time experience.

I see them moving him to Free Safety permanently and hoping he can become a vocal leader if he does his homework.