, Port Arthur, Texas

August 30, 2011

Intelligent Augustine diagnoses Titans foes

David Coleman
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — If senior outside linebacker Jereem Augustine had any thoughts of switching positions this season, they quickly got erased on one play against Central last Friday. Augustine intercepted Central quarterback Robert Mitchell on a pass near the home team’s side line. When Augustine started returning the interception, he had a bunch of open turf in front of him and few Central players between him and the end zone.

“We told him afterwards if he had made that one guy miss, we’d move him to tailback,” Memorial head coach Kenny Harrison said. “He didn’t, though, which is why he’s still at linebacker.”

When asked about it, Augustine said it wasn’t a matter of juking the defender. He had other things on his mind than a score.

“I’d wanted to run over the quarterback more than I wanted to take it to the house,” Augustine said.

That’s the kind of attitude which makes the senior such a good fit for his position. Augustine has the athleticism to play on the outside, dropping back into coverage or rushing the passer. He’s also tough enough to play inside linebacker, which he did last season as a backup on varsity.

“He plays the run pretty well,” Harrison said. “He’s tough enough to play inside, but he’s athletic enough to play outside. We can really move him around on that defense if we needed to, but we like what he brings on the outside.”

His biggest asset, according to Harrison, is his intellect and football I.Q.

“He’s one of the smartest kids on the team,” Harrison said. “He really understands the game as well as any player on the team. He knows what he needs to do and how to read what the other team is doing. Those are the kinds of things that make him the kind of player I enjoy coaching.”

Talking to Augustine about his interception against Central certainly confirms this. The senior broke down what he saw almost as well as the offensive coordinator who drew the play up.

“Our motto is, ‘You don’t cover dead grass,’” Augustine said. “I saw no one go to the flats. The No. 1 receiver went on a go. The 2 receiver went on the curl, so I kept backpedaling and got the ball.”

In Memorial’s 4-4 defense, Augustine is a little more free to make plays than an outside linebacker in a 3-4 might be. That’s because there is an extra defensive lineman clogging up an offensive lineman and letting Augustine and his fellow linebackers make plays.

His responsibilities don’t shift much, however, as he’s got just as much to do in covering the pass and stopping the run.

“I do a little of both,” Augustine said. “I start off over the receivers, but we have plays where I do blitz. I’m a multitasker. When I’m blitzing, I have to cover hard. In a Cover 3 look, I’ve got to cover the flats. In a Cover 2, I’ve got the curl route. You just have to play assignment football.”

As athletic a playmaker as Augustine can be, he said his favorite part of playing the position isn’t rushing the passer or getting interceptions. It’s stopping the run.

“I would have to say I like playing the run the best,” Augustine said. “Yeah, I really like getting in there and shutting down their running game. I used to play running back before I got into organized football in seventh and eighth grade. It’s a lot more fun to hit people at linebacker than getting hit as a running back.”

That, too, is the kind of trait that makes Harrison enjoy coaching him, but he’s certainly going to hold Augustine to that this Friday.

“I’m going to remind him of that,” Harrison said, laughing. “Especially against Ozen, since they like running the ball with that tailback of theirs so much. I’m going to make sure he remembers saying that.”

TITAN TIDBITS: The Titans got some bad news on the injury front this week. Cornerback Devin Cockrell hurt his knee on a play down the sideline on a kick return. Tests this week confirmed he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and will miss the rest of the season. He had gotten the start against Central over Jaylon Howard, making a couple nice open field tackles on the edge before the injury. ... Memorial did get good news about defensive end Justin Martin’s knee. Harrison originally thought Martin would miss three weeks with the injury, but after the swelling in the joint subsided, it revealed the injury was not that severe. In fact, Martin was able to dress for the game against Central and played about 15 snaps against the Jaguars.