Falcons look to replace “Boo Boo” Gates in secondary, will take team effort

Ryland+Ward

Ryland Ward

Tara Jones and Tara Jones

Despite the loss of safety Jerry “Boo Boo” Gates, the Falcons are not looking for a star to replace him. Rather, the 2014 edition of the BG secondary will look to grow as a unit.

“I don’t think we need any all-stars out there [in the secondary],” Head Coach Dino Babers said. “It’s a long day and they cover a lot of ground each football play, so we need a group of guys to step up.”

Redshirt senior and defensive back Jude Adjei-Barimah said the team has plenty of players capable of stepping up in the secondary.

“A lot of guys [on this team] have played a lot of football,” he said. “Boo Boo was a great player, but we have guys that are ready. We shouldn’t miss a beat.”

Ryland Ward, also a redshirt senior and defensive back, said even though the Falcons did lose key players in the secondary, they still have a veteran bunch.

“Even though we have new guys coming in, it’s the same guys that have been here for the last four or five years that’s playing,” Ward said. “Even though they weren’t starters, they’ve got a handful of playing time.”

Ward and the other secondary veterans have been emphasizing to the younger players getting more touches on the ball on defense, forcing turnovers and especially toughness.

“The thing that we emphasize is competing and fighting through being tired,” he said. “Everybody’s going to be tired. This is everybody’s first year going through this type of offense … so I think the main thing we preach is toughness and endurance and fighting through fatigue.”

Baber’s fast tempo has not only had a large impact on the Falcon offense, but has also effected the defense as well.

“The offense has pushed us to be faster,” Adjei-Barimah said. “They have pushed us to be more sharp … I think that’s pushed as a defense to be ready for other teams.”

Ward agreed that playing against their own offense will better prepare them for their quicker opponents this season.

“Last year, we really didn’t know what to expect [from other up-tempo teams],” Ward said. “We knew they would go fast on us. It’s one thing to practice against it, but it’s another thing to play the actual thing. I think we’ll be really prepared. I don’t think we’ll have any difficult problems, as far as the tempo.”

Babers has been stressing to the secondary players not trying to do things outside of their abilities, but while also staying aggressive. To be successful, the players will need to keep the ball in front of them and tackle in space, he said.

Adjei-Barimah said the secondary’s focus is making plays and changing games. As an upperclassman, he understands it is their responsibility to set the precedent and make those type of plays.

“As a group, the secondary is very important,” Adjei-Barimah said. “We’re the last line of defense so we have to make sure that if anything happens up front, we’re able to save the play and let us play another down.”