Defensive backs man last line of defense

Defending the unfriendly skies Defensive back Terry Grimmett gives a pep talk to the defense as they take on Missouri Western in a nationally televised game. Washburn’s defense has only allowed 1,288 passing yards in seven games and has 10 interceptions on the year.

Michael Vander Linden / Washburn Review

 

Typically, the defensive linemen are lined up across from the ball, with the defensive linebackers right behind them. However, it is the defensive backs that start 5-10 yards back from the football.

According to Marty Pfannenstiel, senior linebacker for the Washburn Ichabods, it is defensive backs’ job to defend the pass first and then come up to help stop the run once they see it.

“This actually may be the hardest part about our job–learning to keep the pass from happening, but still able to make a play on a running back that is running at top speed before he gets to you,” said Pfannenstiel.

It is actually the difference in passing priority that splits the defensive backs into two groups—cornerbacks and safeties.

The cornerbacks have the job of not getting beat for a long throw by the wide receivers. The two starting cornerbacks for this year’s team are sophomore Devon Connors and freshman Calvin Kenney

“These players won’t make a lot of plays on the running backs, but they always have to focus on the pass,” said Pfannenstiel.

Pfannenstiel is an example of a safety, along with sophomore Willie Williams. Although they still focus on the pass first, they are lined up in position to see ball carriers and are the last chance at making tackles on run plays.

“Safeties get the most fun job in getting to run up and hit running backs without even getting blocked,” said Pfannenstiel. “I mean, at least for me.”

Many times this season, these defensive backs have made interceptions and big plays to help set the rest of the team up to be successful.

“When we make big play, it’s a huge momentum swing,” said Pfannenstiel. “It gets our defense off to rest and gives our offense a better chance to score.”