Facebook Twitter

BYU: COUGAR SECONDARY HAS NEW COACHES, GREATER DEPTH; NOW THEY JUST NEED TO PRODUCE.

SHARE BYU: COUGAR SECONDARY HAS NEW COACHES, GREATER DEPTH; NOW THEY JUST NEED TO PRODUCE.

Barry Lamb was the defensive coordinator at San Diego State in 1991 when BYU scored 52 points and Ty Detmer passed for a then-Cougar record 599 yards against the Aztecs. DeWayne Walker was a secondary coach at Utah State last season when he watched John Walsh pick apart the Aggie defense for a record 619 yards passing.

It's no wonder Lamb and Walker took jobs at BYU during the offseason - now they won't have to try in vain to stop the Cougar offensive machine.They still have their work cut out for them, however.

The Cougars gave up 248 passing yards per game while recording a WAC low five interceptions last season. Lamb and Walker have the responsibility of putting together an improved secondary. Lamb is in charge of the safeties, while Walker works with the cornerbacks. The duo replaces long-time assistant Dick Felt, who retired after the '93 season.

"Having two secondary coaches who work together and are on the same page will give the players more personal attention," Walker said. "The players still have to get the job done, but coach Lamb and I will be able to help them get better. We have some hard-working kids and helped ourselves with some good J.C. transfers, so we're optimistic."

Senior cornerback Patrick Mitchell, for one, feels the new coaches will make the secondary a stronger unit. "The players have responded well to the new coaches," Mitchell said. "They can relate to us a lot better than some of the other coaches because they are younger. They get their points across and have brought in a lot of confidence, which we needed."

Mitchell, who had 37 tackles and a team-high 15 pass deflections last year, is one of three starters returning to the four secondary spots. Weak safety Cory Cook (56 tackles) is back, as is strong safety Jack Damuni (49 tackles, team-high three interceptions). Greg Steele, a redshirt freshman from Texas, has recovered from serious injuries he suffered in a car accident last year, and is penciled in as a starter at the left cornerback position.

A trio of junior college players will likely see plenty of action. Cornerbacks Dermmell Reed and James Heggins have been impressive in practice, as has safety Jamie Cook, who was an all-conference player at Ricks College last year. Other backups include junior lettermen Jon Pollack and Scott Merkley and freshmen Philip Giordano and Dewayne Nobles.

"We're going to be better," said Mitchell. "The junior college guys are going to be a big help, because in the past we didn't have speed backing up speed. This year if someone goes out, someone else will come in and we won't miss a beat. The talent is there, we just have to perform."