Penn State Football: Castro-Fields Targeting Healthier, More Consistent 2020
The unfortunate truth about coverage positions is that most everyone doesn't know enough about football to really tell you when a corner or a safety makes a mistake, who exactly was at fault and why.
Certainly there are exceptions to this rule, everyone can see someone fall down or get burnt by a faster player. You don't need to be Kirk Ciarrocca or Brent Pry to understand the basic principles of a guy making a play or giving up one.
All the same the lack of meaningful and accessible stats for defensive players, especially coverage specialists can leave a lot of guesswork for the majority of fans -and in a moment of transparency- the media as well.
Enter Penn State senior corner Tariq Castro-Field, a corner who has for the vast majority of his career been a reliable playmaker on defense both in coverage and occasionally in the pass rush as well.
Castro-Field started his 2019-20 seasons strong, his finished the year with 10 pass deflections, two interceptions and 52 total tackles. All three of these things were career-highs, all three of them meaningful contributions to an almost always stout defense.
But between an injury and whatever else might have been going on in Castro-Fields' life, he lost a step, or appeared to, and in turn the second half of the year was not his best. Suddenly all that promise felt more like bust than boom.
“His season last year was almost like two different seasons,” Penn State cornerback's coach Terry Smith said on Wednesday. “The first half of the season, he came out of the gate looking like a first-round draft pick. He played very well. And then he suffered an injury. And from that injury on, he was a different player, he wasn't as confident, he wasn't as sure of himself."
In Castro-Fields' defense you could probably say that about a lot of different parts of a Nittany Lion team that rolled to an 11-win mark that somehow managed to leave fans feeling let down. Penn State was good enough to beat nearly everyone on the schedule, but never quite looked like the team set on getting over the hump. A strange place to be when winning double-digit games in a year.
So much like his teammates Castro-Fields will look to do two things in the 2020-21 season: pick up where he left off, but make that next step.
Because much like the Nittany Lions, Castro-Fields, can be better, and by all rights ought to be.
“He knows and recognizes it,” Smith said. “We’ve talked about it. One of our offseason plans and goals for him is to make sure that he can be more consistent throughout the season. Obviously, in the first half of the season, he played exactly how we wanted him to play. Then in the second half, you know, football's a physical sport, injuries are going to come, the peaks and the valleys are going to come, but we have to remain consistent through all of that, and perform the same way play in and play out. So he understands that.”
Every season and career is full of ups and downs. Penn State's past few years have been evidence of that as much as anything. Mike Gesicki wasn't always Mike Gesicki, DaeSean Hamilton wasn't always DaeSean Hamilton.
So hope springs eternal for the likes of Castro-Fields, a player who knows what he can be, and simply has to find a way to become it.