Over the course of fall camp, PowerMizzou.com is talking to Tiger assistant coaches to get the inside scoop on each position. Today, a chat with cornerbacks coach Cornell Ford.
PowerMizzou.com: E.J. Gaines has shown what he can do on the field. But he's a captain now. Where's he at in terms of being a leader and taking charge?
Cornell Ford: "E.J.'s more of a guy that leads by example. He's not really a rah-rah guy. It's not him. Although, this year, we're asking him to be more vocal and in his own way he's slowly doing that. I've heard him say some things to the team this year that he has never said before. He's just always been kind of, 'Well, watch me do it,' more so than standing up and beating his chest and saying it. But he's taken more of a role from a vocal standpoint this year."
PM.com: He's your constant. Behind him, how do you feel about some of the younger guys?
Ford: "I think we've got some talent, but we've still got a lot of work to do with those guys. All of them. E.J. and then Ponder's had a little bit of experience, but he's not been a starter other than our dime. So it's even for him, this is a new journey. Those other guys, we've got to get them caught up and get them ready."
PM.com: I know John Gibson is a guy you'd love to be able to get more of a look at than you're able to get right now. How much does the injury set back your ability to evaluate him?
Ford: "It does. At some point, we've got to get it going. We know he has ability. His deal is just from a maturity standpoint and learning the defense. He needs as many reps, needs as many game reps, as he can get to become a better football player."
PM.com: I guess the flip side is that gives a guy like Aarion Penton a chance to show what he can do in the scrimmage.
Ford: "Absolutely. For us right now all jobs are open and there's a lot of competition going on. We shuffled some guys around (Monday) since the scrimmage. We just want to see who wants the job and who wants to get it done."
PM.com: What did you see out of Aarion on Saturday?
Ford: "I saw a competitor. And I knew he was a competitor when we brought him here. Just a matter of, okay, can you learn it and can you physically handle the challenge? Now I think his biggest challenge is the physical side of the game. He kind of got pushed around a little bit, but he didn't back down. He knows what he's supposed to do. Now we just got to get him to do it without really thinking about it."
PM.com: He and Anthony Sherrils are both guys that could have played a number of spots. Did you do some lobbying to get them at your position?
Ford: "I sure did. I'm trying to hang on. When coach Hill was the wide receiver coach, he got all the guys. He got J-Mac and Danario Alexander and those guys. Just give me a couple. All I need's a couple. So now I've been able to keep two of them on our side. I think they're gonna be able to help us down the road."
PM.com: In the league you guys used to play in, it wasn't just you, but everybody seemed to put those guys at receiver. The SEC, they seem to put them on defense. Is that accurate?
Ford: "It's very true. They're good on both sides of the ball in this conference. But the corners and the DBs and safeties, if you can play in this conference at that position, you're going to play on the next level. You'll be playing on Sundays."
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