When you look through mock drafts and different all-american teams, you’re likely going to see Jamal Adams and Tre’Davious White on both. Adams is likely to be a top 10 pick in the upcoming draft as he will be the first or second safety taken. White is more of a fringe first-rounder, but some mocks have him sneaking into the end of the first round. Both, however, have seen their names on first and second team all-american lists.
Adams is the best safety in the country in my opinion and his abilities are elite. Adams can play in the box as an extra linebacker and he plays that role best. With 70 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss, it’s obvious that he doesn’t have any problem with making plays near the line and it also shows that Dave Aranda likes to use him in different ways. Adams isn’t outstanding in coverage, but he is much better than most big safeties of the same ilk. He also had a game against Arkansas that he would probably like to forget. He was run over twice by Hog running backs in the open field. That might be something to be on the lookout for with the Cards having bigger backs like the Hogs do.
White is a cover corner but he is really good at containing runners and making stops on the edge as well. Most guys are one or the other, but White is definitely a complete player and he really plays a big role in the run defense. White led the SEC in passes broken up this year with 13 and he had a pick six in the first game of the season. Throw in his 4 tackles for loss and you can see his complete game through the numbers. I only caught one bad play from White this season and it was when he fell asleep on a play when the receiver slowed down. Outside of that play, White practically took away his area of the field. Louisville hasn’t pushed the ball deep down the sidelines much lately but White could be more effective at taking away those shorter routes.
The other members of the secondary are no slouches either. Donte Jackson starts at the other corner spot over former 5-star Kevin Tolliver and he has done very well as an undersized guy. Jackson might be the fastest player on the team and his speed serves him well at corner. Multiple times this year, Jackson closed on a receiver quickly and made a play on the ball or kept a completion to a short gain instead of a long one. Louisville’s receivers have struggled to separate from coverage all year and Jackson will make that even harder to do.
The free safety spot is manned by the veteran John Battle. Battle isn’t going to do much to wow you on the field, but sometimes you want that out of your deep safety. LSU doesn’t give up a lot of big pass plays over the middle and Battle is a big part of that. He’s just a really solid player. Louisville will be a good test because they like to attack the middle of the field more than most. Dwayne Thomas is the third safety in the group and he plays the nickel spot. Thomas is a really overlooked guy that makes a lot of impact plays for the Tigers. Aranda will blitz him from different spots and he will put him in man coverage as well. Thomas might be utilized to match up with Cole Hikutini in an effort to put more speed on him. LSU plays man coverage almost exclusively and their talent level allows Aranda to gamble a bit. Louisville will have to exploit that to get the passing game going.