Linebackers feel comfortable in system

Published 10:13 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2019


News Release

BOWLING GREEN — Continuing with the defensive storylines for WKU Football, third-year linebackers coach Maurice Crum and a handful of his players spoke to the media after practice on Tuesday. The center of the defense boasts a deep and versatile group, and will have a good mix of new and old faces.

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“I think the main thing is every day we are coming in, competing and trying to become leaders and better men,” Crum said. “I have a vision for the guys and they’re all bought in, the main thing is to be playmakers and they’re competing to make those plays.”

Crum continued, remarking on the importance of the defense being in the third year of the same system: “Any time you are comfortable in something, you feel a lot better doing it. I don’t necessarily have to focus on so much of the details, we’re working with a broader picture … It’s not A-B-C ball, we’re at D-E and F now.”

Junior Kyle Bailey – who totaled 47 tackles and one interception in his first two seasons for the Hilltoppers as a safety – has made the transition to linebacker for the 2019 season. So far, the move has been a straightforward one.

“It has just been really easy, the good thing is that everything [in the defense] is integrated, it all works the same, so as a safety I learned it from the top down,” Bailey said. “The physicality has been the biggest adjustment because as a safety you’re in coverage a lot and you’re not really in there, up against the linemen.

“At the end of the day I’m a ballplayer. I just want to play ball and do whatever makes the team better.”

Crum spoke highly of Bailey, stating: “He’s an infectious and high-level guy, and the [others] really feed off his energy. He brings those speed and coverage elements but he’s as physical as they come, he’s downhill and he doesn’t turn down any contact … He’ll do anything to play football.”

One of the new faces in the WKU linebacker room is Malik Staples – a graduate transfer from Louisville – who is primed to become a core member of this new team that he is happy to call home.

“The genuine feel brought me here,” he said. “When I came in and talked to Coach Crum, Coach [Clayton White] and Coach [Tyson Helton], they won’t lie to you, they’ll keep it real at all times and I love that.”

Meanwhile, redshirt junior Demetrius Cain – who works primarily as a linebacker, but boasts the versatility to take reps at his original position of defensive end if necessary – can feel the positivity and confidence spreading throughout the defense so far during fall camp.

“The energy is exciting, we’ve put a couple of good days together and we have to build off that,” he said. “You either get better or you get worse, so we’re just going to keep getting better and progressing.”