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LSU Defensive Coordinator Chavis on safety, Quentin Thomas injury and more

The following is a transcript of comments made by defensive coordinator John Chavis at Media Day.

On the position battle at safety

“Well, it’s big right now. If you said, ‘Who are the starting safeties?’, that will be determined. There are some guys that have played there that have some experience that are coming back and will be in the mix. Right now, we have five or six guys that are battling for those two positions. There’s competition all over the field. Ronald Martin has played a lot of football for us around here, and we’ve got several guys who have done that. It’ s a battle that will continue up until game week.”
On the Quentin Thomas injury

“You’ve got holes that you’ve got to fill. Sometimes, they’re unexpected but the next guy has to be ready to go. We’ve got several guys that could be the next guy. So, we get the next guy ready to go, and we go play. It’s unfortunate for Quentin, I feel for him. We can’t look back. We’ve got to look forward and move on.”
On the importance of the linebackers for this defense

“It’s a time for them to take on more responsibility, but we do what we do. We’re going to always be good in the defensive line because that’s where it starts. If you’re not good there then it’s tough to do a lot of other things. We’ve got some good talent, and I feel that it might be true that we have as good of a pair of defensive ends as anybody in the country.”
On athleticism versus experience on the defensive side of the ball

“Athleticism will usually overcome experience if you’re working in the right direction. Athleticism is a big part of what we do. There are positions that are easier to learn, and it doesn’t take as much experience to get there. For some, it takes a little more experience because there’s a lot of mental focus, a lot of calls and a lot of adjustments. Some things happen at some positions that don’t happen at others. For example based on experience, it’s a heck of a lot easier to play cornerback than it is to play any other position on the field. You put a great athlete out there, and you can get him ready to play. The mental part of it isn’t nearly as tough. It’s more athletic ability that counts there.”
On the responsibility of the defense to possibly carry a team with a young offense

“We want to play great defense regardless. It’s no secret, it doesn’t matter where you go or how you cut it. If you don’t play great defense then the chances of winning championships are lessened. You have to play great defense, and our goal is to be a great defensive unit. We work towards that every day. Our players work towards that, and our players strive to be a great defensive unit.”
On creating more turnovers this season

“The emphasis was there, we just didn’t get it done (last season).  Is it inexperience or is it guys are uncomfortable and not playing fast enough? We were average in the turnover department, but there is always that emphasis there. We’ve got things that we teach and believe in and part of our philosophy. That’s a big part of it, but I can’t explain why some years you’re great at it and some years you’re not. We work it, we teach it and our players buy into it. Sometimes, you get turnovers because you find quarterbacks that throw it to you and backs that put it on the ground. Sometimes, you cause those situations by the way you play. Our emphasis hasn’t been any different but should the results be different, we certainly hope so. We were average in the turnover margin last year.”

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