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BYU football cornerbacks coach Jernaro Gilford wants more from his unit, players seek to improve

March 31, 2019

Since a college football coach is always trying to find ways to help the players improve, can he ever truly be satisfied with the progress of his guys?

Take, for example, BYU cornerbacks coach Jernaro Gilford, who because of injuries and recuperation has been working with a relatively young group during spring camp.

So how did they do during the 15 Cougar practices?

“The young guys are getting a lot of reps and getting better,” Gilford said. “That’s a positive thing but we’ve got to get guys healthy. It’s great to have young guys get reps so if their number is called at least they will have a lot of experience in practice. Last year we got to Corners No. 6 and No. 7. They had half the reps that these guys are getting now.”

But even so, Gilford wants more.

“They’ve been getting better every day, but I do kind of get on them because I feel like they should all be a step further than we are now,” Gilford said. “It’s about the small things. Maybe we felt like we arrived because we had a fairly decent year. I want to continue to build. I’m pushing them to be great. I tell them to not be satisfied with being good. It’s about getting better every single day.”

BYU freshman cornerback Isaiah Herron said he understood where Gilford was coming from with his comments.

“We definitely still have work to do because we have a young corps,” Herron said. “I feel like as time goes on we will pick it up and get way better. I feel like the sky is the limit when fall comes around.”

One of the problems for young players is translating the lessons from just understanding concepts to applying them on the field.

“We work certain drills every day, but it gets live action and all of a sudden they forget everything,” Gilford said. “Stuff goes right out the window. We’ll be in meetings, a guy will be like, ‘Coach, I don’t know what I was thinking. That’s an easy play I should’ve made. It won’t happen again.’ Then we go out in live action and the same thing happens.”

Gilford said that is simply part of the learning process.

“It’s fun to see guys grow,” he said. “They’ll get it right. Over the next couple months, they get it corrected.”

Herron said he feels like the cornerbacks made the necessary effort in spring to get things going in the right direction.

“I feel like we have been putting in a lot of work, working on our craft and learning the playbook,” Herron said. “We are working on getting a lot of turnovers.”

The freshman cornerback is in a somewhat unique situation, since he was able to compete in four games (finishing with four total tackles) while still having it be his redshirt year. He said that immersion was invaluable.

“I’ve learned a lot,” Herron said. “My mind has done a 360 when it comes to football. I see things I didn’t see before. I react different and football is a lot slower than last year when I was playing as a freshman. Being on the field made a big difference because I was able to feel it and be out there with older guys.”

He said he felt the difference when he got on the field with the team in March.

“Somewhere around the beginning of spring camp where I was moving around and breaking on the ball, I was understanding how certain techniques work and where I’m supposed to be at,” Herron said. “That has put me in position to make more plays than I did last fall.”

Herron believes that the next few months will be big for the cornerbacks as they look to get the most out of the player run practices.

“We need to work on our technique, understand certain plays and do everything Coach G (Gilford) taught us,” Herron said. “We need to really put that to use every single day and make sure we are getting better day by day to get to the point where he wants us to be at.”