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The Cardinal Countdown: 6 Days Until Kickoff

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#6 Shaq Wiggins

Class: Junior

Ht/Wt: 5-10/172

Position: Cornerback

Hometown: Tyrone, GA

Twitter: @ShaqWiggins6

Thoughts: Without question the offseason buzz surrounding Shaq has been his absence from the first team defense. Why is the guy who started all 13 games last year in that spot no longer there? We first saw it back in the spring and people scratched their heads a little, but Petrino wrote it off fairly quickly saying that Shaq just hadn’t had the opportunity to get many reps in the scrimmage leading up to the Spring game. Okay, question answered.

Then the fall camp started to roll closer and Jaire was still running with the ones…then another day passed, then a week passed…and then we saw the fall depth chart released and there was Jaire, still the starter alongside Tru. So, what’s wrong with Shaq? The honest answer, which I think the coaches have all but said at this point is…nothing. There is nothing wrong with Shaq or his play other than the fact that as of right now, Jaire is simply better. You can go back and read my post on Day 10 about Jaire if you like, but the Cliff Note’s version is that he is an extremely talented corner who has worked his way into a starting role. Period. So how does that move impact the defense moving forward? Not very much, in my opinion. Just as Petrino said in the Spring and Grantham and Heyward have both said this Fall, Wiggins is still a very big piece of the defense and he, along with Ronald Walker and Zykiesis Cannon will be a part of the ‘carousel of cornerbacks’™ (I got that ish trademarked) that rotate in and out based upon the down/distance, injuries, matchups, etc. In addition, if Grantham does go with more and more nickel and dime looks (as he’s said he would) you’ll likely see Shaq or Walker on the field more frequently anyway.

Shaq played well last year, and even earned an honorable mention for the All-ACC squad. He lead the team in passes broken up (11) and had a couple picks on the year, you could even tell in certain games the offense seemed to avoid his side of the field at times and wanted to pick on the younger Washington and Alexander. I know in the offseason some things get blown out of proportion just to provide some type of football discussion in the dog days of summer (this coming from a guy who writes 100 posts about football in June/July/August) and I think the Shaq/Jaire discussion falls into that category. Jaire may get the starts (ala Wayne) but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Shaq out there in a pressure situation where we need a big stop towards the end of the game (Luke).

As much as I love our secondary we need them to not only remain on par with what they brought last year, but get better. Yes, we fielded a Top 20 defense overall, but the passing defense was just outside the Top 50 giving up an average of 212 passing yds/game and 23 passing TDs. I know there is some ‘risk/reward’ Grantham philosophy factored into those numbers as well considering we finished Top 15 in interceptions (17) but with a less experienced defensive line taking on that rushing attack we may need the corners and safeties to make a few extra plays to help get us off the field. With leadership and experience from Shaq and Trumaine and the younger guys getting a better feel for the system…I like our chances of doing just that.

P.S. Wiggins still wears the crown as the biggest ‘trash talker’ and ‘funniest guy on the team’ according to his teammates this offseason. Never change Shaq.

Sweet Tweet:

Let us not forgot that Shaq felt that Burgess heat just as much as that poor A&M receiver. So much so that he not only missed a good portion of the bowl game but was still working through some kinks in the Spring.

So once again, Burgess was out, Shaq was gone for extended period and Trevon Young was out the majority of the game…but keep yapping about how A&M was using their third string QB. [smh]

Take your ‘L’ and move on, son.