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BYU football: First-year defensive back Robertson Daniel impresses as a tackler

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9 2013 1:19 a.m. MDT

Utah State Aggies running back Joey DeMartino (28) tries to get around Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Robertson Daniel (4) and Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Uani 'Unga (41) in the first half against BYU at Romney Stadium on Friday, October 4, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah State Aggies running back Joey DeMartino (28) tries to get around Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Robertson Daniel (4) and Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Uani 'Unga (41) in the first half against BYU at Romney Stadium on Friday, October 4, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

PROVO — BYU junior Robertson Daniel's natural position is safety. But Daniel has been playing as the Cougars’ starting field corner — and playing very well.

Daniel collected a career-high 10 tackles, including seven solo stops, in BYU’s 31-14 victory at Utah State last weekend.

“I’m naturally a safety,” he said. “So I feel very comfortable coming up and tackling. … Every time I get the opportunity, I’m going to stick my head in there.”

Daniel should have plenty of chances to stick his head in there Saturday, when the Cougars host Georgia Tech.

The Yellow Jackets run the triple option, which gives defensive backs an unusual assignment.

“You have to have good eyes and tackle. You have to watch the double moves,” he explained. “That’s about it. Not much you have to do with the triple option as a defensive back.”

Utah State Aggies running back Joey DeMartino (28) makes a cutback as Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Craig Bills (20) and Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Robertson Daniel (4) close in during a game at Romney Stadium on Friday, October 4, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News) Utah State Aggies running back Joey DeMartino (28) makes a cutback as Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Craig Bills (20) and Brigham Young Cougars defensive back Robertson Daniel (4) close in during a game at Romney Stadium on Friday, October 4, 2013. (Matt Gade, Deseret News)

However, he said, defensive backs need to be wary of being lulled to sleep by the run-heavy play-calling.

“It will be run, run, run, then play-action pass deep,” he said. “When you’re playing corner against the triple option, you’ve got to be focused all the way. They’ll give you six or seven runs in a row, then all of the sudden, it will be play-action deep. All they need is that one play to change the game.”

GOOD MEMORIES: Coach Paul Johnson’s Georgia Tech team was blasted at home by BYU, 41-17, last season in Atlanta.

But he has had success against the Cougars in the distant past.

Georgia Tech's coach Paul Johnson watches during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Miami on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) (J Pat Carter, ASSOCIATED PRESS) Georgia Tech's coach Paul Johnson watches during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Miami on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) (J Pat Carter, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Johnson was on the staff at Hawaii in 1990, when the Warriors bombed the Cougars, 56-14. It was the same night that BYU quarterback Ty Detmer won the Heisman Trophy.

Johnson remembers the game well.

“They were ranked third or fourth in the country. That one stands out,” Johnson recalled. “I remember we sacked (Detmer) like nine times in the game. But we had some great games with them. You know, 35 years starts to run together, but I think the one game I remember out there, we actually lost. It was either 39-36 or 36-33 or something. We had a 20-yard field-goal to win the game; the score was tied; and we had the ball on their 3-yard line, lined up to kick a 20-yard field goal; we hit the upright and they threw two passes and beat us in the last play of the game. Those are the ones you remember. You remember the losses more than the wins sometimes.”

TRADITION, SPIRIT, HONOR: BYU players will wear their Tradition, Spirit, Honor jerseys Saturday. Instead of their last names, the Cougars will wear those words —the program's motto — on the backs of their jerseys. The words have been assigned randomly.

On media day in August, the players showed up for photos in those jerseys, and BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said at that time the intention was for the players to wear them all year. But after meeting with the players, who wanted their last names on their jerseys, Mendenhall decided to scrap the idea.

However, senior linebacker Kyle Van Noy offered a compromise — to wear the Spirit, Tradition, Honor jerseys for one game this season. That will happen Saturday for homecoming.

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