After a week of getting to see more defensive players take the field in Oklahoma's 70-14 win over FCS opponent South Dakota, defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has a better idea at what he's working with going into OU's match against UCLA in Pasadena, California, for his first road game as a Sooners assistant coach.
Monday night after practice, Grinch talked and picked the brain of former UCLA assistant Roy Manning, working with Bruins head coach Chip Kelly and freshman cornerback Jaden Davis' growing role.
The freshman cornerback ripped the ball out of the South Dakota receiver's hands, and somehow came down with the ball in the fourth quarter of OU's win over the Coyotes Saturday night. It was the second turnover of the game.
"He made a unique play," Grinch said, "ripping the ball out of the receiver's hands and ultimately coming up with it. When the ball is thrown, there's an excitement on his part, in terms of attacking it."
Grinch was able to put in players that usually don't get to see time on the field that night. A total of 29 got at least one tackle. Davis made his debut and registered a tackle against Houston, and registered three against South Dakota. Grinch says his role is only going to grow.
"He's a guy that really doesn't fall into the category of just a young guy trying to get on the field," Grinch said. "He played some in week one. He's really skilled with the ball in the air, very confident with the ball in the air in terms of what you saw the other night.
"He's only scratched the surface, but his rep count will continue to go up."
Oklahoma cornerbacks coach Roy Manning is a year removed from coaching the outside linebackers at UCLA, OU's opponent on Saturday. Grinch takes advantage of the connection.
"We certainly pick his brain," Grinch said. "Obviously, it's a year removed with further development and new roles and all that stuff. But in a lot of ways, his comments confirm what you see on film. Unique scenario, obviously, with him being in that program a year ago."
Grinch also has a connection to UCLA: head coach Chip Kelly, who was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire while Grinch coached the cornerbacks in the 2005-06 season.
"(Kelly) was a guy that wanted tempo," Grinch said. "He wanted guys moving and obviously the defense has to match the offense. So much of what we do stems from that time there."