LAFAYETTE — There is obviously more than one reason why Trevence Patt is known as the best cover guy in the Louisiana-Lafayette secondary.
Patt, it seems, not only covers a lot of ground when the ball is in the air, but his versatility apparently allows him to have all of the defensive back positions covered.
Recruited as a cornerback out of Breaux Bridge High School in 2010, Patt, now a junior, became a starter at strong safety late last season. This spring, under first-year defensive coordinator James Willis, he was moved back to corner.
After preseason practice began, Patt once again became the starting strong safety. That is, until the third quarter of ULL’s season opener Saturday at Arkansas.
At halftime, Patt was summoned to play cornerback, and his performance probably determined his permanent position — at least until the end of this year.
With Arkansas moving the ball through the air as well as on the ground in the first half, the Razorbacks were easily attacking an inexperienced Cajuns secondary that had three first-time starters. To alleviate potential disaster, Willis said he knew Patt was the guy he needed at cornerback for the rest of the game as the Cajuns trailed by 13.
“(Patt) is the best cover guy we’ve got, and we knew that in the spring,” he said. “We’ve got to put the guy in who can cover those dudes.”
Patt proved that in the third quarter when he became entangled in a single coverage situation and afterward deflected a probable scoring pass.
“On that play, I saw the receiver release vertical and out, so I thought Arkansas was trying to hit the home run,” he said. “I turned up and got in the guy’s face. I put my body on him and my hands up. It was just me alone. If I don’t make that play, the (Arkansas) band would strike up, and I really didn’t want to hear that. I was tired of that and tired of everything.”
Patt’s pass breakup caught the attention of coach Mark Hudspeth, who thought it was one of the best defensive plays in the 34-14 loss.
Moving from cornerback to safety so many times since last year hasn’t been that traumatic of an experience, Patt said.
“It’s really not that much different,” he said, “because I know the whole defense and the things that all the defensive backs are supposed to do.”
Although he was successful at strong safety, starting five of last year’s final six games, Patt said he prefers cornerback.
“I would rather be that cover guy and help out with the deep balls,” he said. “With my height (6-foot), I can guard big receivers. I can put my hands on them and be physical with them.”
Willis said Patt’s physique is his top attribute, followed closely by his speed.
“(Patt) is long and he can run. He also doesn’t panic when the ball is in the air,” Willis said. “Right now we need more corners; we don’t need more safeties.”