Confidence. It’s an attribute that walks a tight line in the world of sports.
A player who is confident can be taken one of two ways, either as an ultimate competitor looking to strike certain fear in the eyes of an opponent, or as an overzealous player who does more work with his words than he does his ability.
For LSU sophomore cornerbacks Tre’Davious White and Rashard Robinson, the category in which they fall under has yet to be decided, but one thing is certain: they are a confident duo.
After a 2013 season that has left many people wondering whether or not the title of Defensive Back University is still a deserving one for the Tigers, it has been the goals of both White and Robinson to restore what they believe is rightfully theirs.
The self-proclaimed brothers have been working together ever since their first meeting at the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships where they exchanged numbers and kept in constant contact, and since then the relationship has only gotten stronger.
“We came to LSU camp in July of my senior year [in high school], and it was like clockwork on the field,” Robinson said.
They ultimately decided to both commit to LSU in hopes of showcasing their ability under the lights at Tiger Stadium.
Both Robinson and White came into their freshman seasons with expectations to make an impact in the Tigers secondary, and they followed suit.
White played in all 13 games as a true freshman, starting 11 and finishing the season with 55 tackles and 2 interceptions. Robinson appeared in 12 games, starting the last two contests for the Tigers and finishing with three pass breakups and a pick.
With one season under their belt the duo will try to revive a secondary that struggled by LSU’s lofty standards last season.
On average in 2013, the Tiger secondary surrendered 229 yards passing per Southeastern Conference game, which is the worst since 2010.
The Tiger secondary descende from the cream of the crop to middle of the pack the last two SEC seasons. LSU gave up on average 219 passing yards per conference game in 2012, numbers, that paired with 2013, don’t even come close to the 141 yards per conference game that they held conference foes to in their undefeated 2011 conference regular season.
The 2010 and 2011 secondary’s stacked with players from Morris Claiborne to Patrick Peterson to Tyrann Mathieu earned LSU the title ‘DBU,’ but after the struggles in the secondary the past two seasons, fans and critics alike are left questioning just how true that title remains.
And with the significant peak in passing yards per game, it’s a cause for concern. But the talk of an end of an era may have just awoken a sleeping giant.
The confident duo of White and Robinson refuse to bow down to the notion that they are no longer ‘DBU.’ In fact, it’s just bulletin board material for the two.
“You know hearing those things, things like that, it lights a fire under me,” White said. “It lights a fire under all of us as a whole, as a DB unit, to bring back that ‘DBU’ swagger.”
During the off season White went back and watched every single play that he was in and took notes of everything that he felt he needed to work on in order to make himself a better player for the team.
White’s work ethic and talent has been noticed thus far, as he was named to the 2014 Jim Thorpe Watch List, an award given to the top defensive back in the country each season that Peterson won in 2010 and Claiborne took home in 2011.
White is hungry to bring it back, and so is his counterpart Robinson.
While Robinson may not be as closely watched under the national eye as White, his talent certainly can’t be ignored. His first start was against Texas A&M where he was paired with former Aggies first team All-SEC reciever Mike Evans. Robinson held Evans to only four catches for 51 yards to go along with an interception of former Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, earning Robinson SEC Co-Freshman of the Week honors.
Robinson doesn’t want to just settle with his past accomplishments though, he, like White, strives to continue to become better.
“We probably didn’t have the best season that we wanted to have,” Robinson said. “But you know the way we have been working in the off season and stuff like that we’re going to show everybody that we’re still ‘DBU.’”
White and Robinson not only want to bring ‘DBU’ back, but they want to establish a name for themselves. White, wearing number 16, and Robinson, wearing number 21, have dubbed themselves “37 Problems.”
The nickname was an idea brought up by the two during the spring that has stuck with them since. The title “37 Problems” symbolizes that as long as they are on the field together, opposing offenses will have more than enough problems trying to get the ball past them.
White said the defensive back position is all about confidence, and with the talk and hype that they have created around them, there’s no lack of confidence coming from this duo.
Confidence can only get you so far though, and while their legacy among the defensive back groups of the past is far from being determined, Robinson is confident they can be better than the All-Americans that have played before them.
“We’re trying to be better than them,” Robinson said. “No disrespect or anything, we just want to be legendary … We’re really just trying to be the best defensive back corp in the country.”