Aug. 9, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - As the UCF football team goes through preseason, players on the defense will constantly be asked about the losses to the secondary and the inexperience of that unit. While the graduation of four senior defensive backs, including NFL Draft pick Joe Burnett, is nothing to overlook, junior Darin Baldwin (Homestead, Fla.) and his teammates are quick remind people that they have experience.
While learning from the talented group in front of him for two seasons, Baldwin has found his way into 23 games as a Knight. The South Dade High School product had 14 tackles and an interception in 2007, and recorded 12 tackles and four pass breakups while playing in every UCF game as a sophomore. Baldwin looks excited about his opportunity to step out of the shadow of his predecessors and do his part to help UCF to a successful season.
Baldwin and his teammates will continue gearing up for its Sept. 5 season opener against Samford at Bright House Networks Stadium with another practice Sunday afternoon at 3:20 p.m. UCFAthletics.com recently caught up with Baldwin to get his thoughts on getting stronger, the upcoming season and the defensive unit's focus this season.
Order your tickets today to see Baldwin and the Knights play seven times this fall at Bright House Networks Stadium. For more information, call the UCF Ticket Office at (407) UCF-1000.
What was the highlight of your summer and where did you spend most of it?
"I spent it in the Wayne Densch Center in weight room. That was basically what I was doing. I only had one class for the summer so after that we were doing seven-on-seven in the indoor facility and lifting weights so that was basically my summer."
What are most looking forward to about the upcoming season and why?
Where do you think you improved on the most over the offseason as an individual?
"This year it is just us trying to win a championship and get to a bowl game. I think last year everyone went home after the season and watched the [bowl games] on TV. We were seeing teams that we played against and a few teams that we beat still getting to play in bowl games and you say to yourself, `I want to be like them, I don't want to be sitting at home.' This year I want to playing."
"I think this season I worked more on by backpedalling skills because I knew I was going to get moved to corner. As a safety I just filled holes and this season I will be covering receivers more so just working mostly on improving my footwork."
What do you think will be the biggest differences in the team this season compared to last season?
"I think the biggest difference is that we are more experienced. Last year was more of a learning year for the offense and now they have learned and have a year under their belt so now we are just one big team. They are going to be scoring and special teams is going to do everything they need to be doing so we are going to be one complete team this year."
What do you think the most important part of preseason practice is in preparing for the season and why?
"That is the time that you have by yourself and what you do with it. Everybody is going to be practicing as a team during the preseason, and what you have to is go out and do extra and do what you have to do to make the team better. Extra running, extra catching the ball, extra working out, extra lifting. That makes a big difference in the upcoming season."
What do you see as the keys to your team having success this season?
"Everybody being getting together as one like we are a train. The offense, defense and special teams all pulling their weight and doing their jobs. That is how you win games. Special teams is a big part of the games, and once it all connects it will be a good year."
What will be the key to replacing Joe Burnett and the rest of the secondary from last season?
"I wouldn't say we are going to replace him. We had good players behind Joe Burnett. I was behind him backing him and learning from him trying to do what he did. Now that I am trying to show people that I can do the things he could and let everyone know that we are not missing anything, we just had to rebuild. We watched the seniors play and learned. When Joe Burnett and those guys just got here, they just played. They didn't get a chance to learn and they played as freshman and sophomores. Now, we had time to learn the system and we can play fast instead of learning as we play."
For the defensive side of the ball and a whole and for your position group specifically, what will be the main focus or goal this season?
"Our main goal as a DB unit is everyone is talking about us as the inexperienced part of the defense, and we just want to show people that we are not inexperienced. We are going to hold our ground. We want the front seven to do what they do and we are going to hold the back end up and we are going to come out as the number defense in the conference."
What are your goals individually this season?
"I just want to stay healthy and do whatever I can do to help the team win and get to a bowl game."
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