“When you go into the lion’s den, you don’t tippy-toe. You carry a spear, go in screaming like a banshee and say ‘Where’s the son of a gun?’” — former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick
If Tuesday’s media availability in Ruston was any indication, consider Louisiana Tech Bulldogs safety L’Jarius Sneed an advocate of heading into the lion’s den with a spear and a banshee yell — in a little more than four days, Sneed and the Bulldogs will kick off against the No. 10 Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
So Sneed is working on screaming like a banshee when he comes face to face with a talented and experienced Texas wide receiver corps that he perceives to have a major weakness:
#LATech safety @jay__sneed on #Texas WRs: They can't handle press. We need to press them.— Cory Diaz (@CoryDiaz_TNS) August 27, 2019
Other than wondering why Sneed would want to publicly challenge the Longhorns wide receivers, the operative question is why he believes that — a study of the Cotton Bowl last season, for instance, would reveal a group that physically dominated the Sooners defensive backs on man-beater routes. Hardly the profile of wide receivers that are worth pressing.
Perhaps some of the calculation is that Lil’Jordan Humphrey is now off to the NFL and playing press coverage could help reduce short passes without fear of giving up explosive plays after Texas notably failed to produce any play of 50 yards or more last season.
The thing is, senior Collin Johnson at the X position is now excellent at beating press coverage, having grown tremendously with his releases since the new coaching staff arrived in Austin. Outside, track star John Burt will get the start at Z, while new slot receiver Devin Duvernay may be even faster and has improved his agility under strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight. Duvernay is also tremendously strong and possesses flypaper hands — good luck pressing him.
Rest assured, as well, that this bulletin board material will make it onto bulletin boards in the Texas wide receivers room — position coach Drew Mehringer has already liked the tweet.
So Sneed better make sure that spear is capable of doing its intended job, because he just guaranteed that the lions will be awake on Saturday night when he steps into their den.
Update [9/27 5:40 p.m. Central]: Here’s the full story from the reporter who posted the quote from L’Jarius Sneed, with some more context around it.