September 30, 2012 1:48:17 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Jamerson Love recognizes he's watching two of the best in defensive backs teach him how to play in the Southeastern Conference.
This week, the Mississippi State University football team has used its bye week to give newcomers like Love an opportunity to show the veterans what they've learned.
"This is a big week for the twos (one on the depth chart) and guys that are rotating 20 reps a game," MSU coach Dan Mullen said this week. "Guys like (senior defensive back and co-captain Johnthan) Banks are going to get minimum work when we go 11-on-11. I know what he can do, and he'll be ready. ... I'm not going to let him do a lot of 11-on-11 because I want to see the other guys have to step up and do that."
Love has played in three games for No. 21 MSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC), and had nine tackles against Troy University and the University of South Alabama. The sophomore from Aberdeen High School isn't concerned about playing time as he waits behind Banks and senior Darius Slay, who are two of the best in the league at the position.
"I do anything to make this team better, whether it's special teams or playing on defense a couple snaps," Love said Tuesday. "It's going out there and doing the best I can."
MSU leads the nation in interceptions (nine). Slay is one of three players in the Football Bowl Subdivision to have four, while Banks has three.
Love has watched all of the action, and he has reminded the upperclassmen to save some turnovers for the younger players.
"I tell them that all the time, (but) if you keep on working, they'll come our way, too," Love said. "They're talking a lot of trash in practice about how many picks they have and are going to get."
Love, who led Aberdeen to a 13-3 record and the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A championship game as a tailback, has embraced his new role in college. He shifted from offense to defense after playing safety in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game.
Love thinks his first pass breakup of the season against USA would've been a bigger play if he had more experience.
"I think they called a third-down (pass) and I felt like if I could have played my technique just a little bit better I probably would have been able to get a pick, but that's what practice is for," Love said.
Love will continue to watch film of Banks and Slay to learn the tendencies and techniques he needs to make plays. While he watches, waits, and learns, he hopes to develop the traits that will allow him to step in when needed.
"I see how (Banks) plays his technique because he stays square on the receiver as long as he can and he goes and gets the ball when it's in the air," Love said. "I need to learn to do that, too."