Memphis Showboats Defensive Coordinator Carnell Lake looking at a strong defensive output

Carnell Lake, Defensive Coordinator, Memphis Showboats
Carnell Lake, Defensive Coordinator, Memphis Showboats

Former NFL player, safety and cornerback, and Pittsburgh Steelers safety and defensive backs coach, Carnell Lake, knows what a good defensive squad looks like. Now that he is entering a new season as defensive coordinator of the Memphis Showboats he claims he is looking at one.

When it comes to depth and strength of his defensive squad, Lake said it was the defensive front that set the tone last season. However, he sees strength across his entire defense this year.

“This year, I think we have depth at all levels, with talent,” Lake said.

Lake has a lot of returning players from last season combined with a few new faces acquired throughout the dispersal draft process when the XFL and USFL merged.

“In total there’s a lot of depth in many of the positions,” Lake said, and then detailed a litany of players he thought were the deepest at defensive positions. “We have the safety spot with Jarey Elder and Christian McFarland, and we have a young player, Lamont McPhatter. It’s been really interesting to see that dynamic. As an outside linebacker core we’ve got Greg Reaves , Jeff McCulloch, and Jordan Ferguson. Any of those guys can start for us on defense right now. Just to name a few inside linebackers, there’s great competition there, with Shaheed Salmon, Vontae Diggs, Anthony Butler, and TJ Neal. So we’ve got depth in pretty much every position up front.”

“The defensive line really looks strong,” Lake continued. “We run the three-fours, as you know, and we’ve got some pretty good nose guards to set the defense. So I’m looking forward to see what these guys can accomplish here in the next couple of weeks. Hopefully, it’ll all come together just like we’re planning it.”

Despite the short period of time available to get players to training camp and get everyone ready, it has not been as much as a challenge for Lake this season.

“In the last couple years the depth of the playbook has been dictated by the amount of time we’ve had in training camp,” Lake explained. “The first year, we only had 10 days with the guys in training camp. So there’s not a lot that we can honestly get done and get done well with detail. Last year it was two weeks. This year, we’ve had almost a month. So, we’ve been able to expand the playbook, which has been great.”

With final roster cuts coming soon, coach Lake feels some hard choices are coming. “There are going to be a really hard choices for us, especially on defense,” Lake said. “I think that whoever we have to let go could wind up playing on another team, very easily. That’s the kind of depth that we have.”

With the Memphis Showboats facing the Houston Roughnecks in their first game of the season, coach Lake has specific goals when it comes to preparing his defensive squad.

“We want to come out of the gate strong and focus on the fundamentals,” Lake said. “We’ve got to stop the run, obviously, and Houston last year had one of the top three running games in the USFL, and I don’t see that changing for them. They’ve always had a pretty strong offensive line and good running backs. It’s going to require us to really focus on that. And then obviously, you know, on the back end in the passing game, just to make sure that we keep the ball in front of us and be opportunistic when we can.”

Coach Lake has been preparing for this season for some time, and is familiar with the Roughnecks coaches. However, he has specifically spent time preparing to meet former XFL teams.

“We’ve been looking at video for quite a while now. Kind of looking at the XFL teams that made it over into the final cut for the league,” Lake revealed. “I probably started looking at some of these teams in September and putting some notes together then. It won’t be just, ‘hey, we got 10 days, we better hurry up and study these people.’ I’ve got some ideas already in place.”

Proper preparation seems important for an experienced coach like Carnell Lake.

The Memphis Showboats play their first game on Sunday, March 31 at 3:00 PM (ET) on the road against the Houston Roughnecks.

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