There is more ground to cover, playing strong safety as opposed to free. The angles? They're all different.
But Derron Smith is having none of that, at least in terms of using it as an excuse.
The Fresno State senior, who played free safety with Phillip Thomas at strong in 2012, who played free safety with Charles Washington at strong in 2013, and who was selected as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference this season for his body work at free safety, played his first full game at strong in a loss to Nebraska.
Some plays didn't quite work, some tackles were missed. But the position change, one of three made last week with Fresno State trying to sort through its issues in the secondary and pass defenses, didn't have anything to do with it, even though defensive coordinator Nick Toth knows that it did.
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"No," Smith said. "That's not an excuse."
It is a lesson, though, to be applied Saturday when Fresno State gets Southern Utah after struggling through blowout losses to Power 5 conference teams at USC, at Utah and to Nebraska. The following week, it's on into Mountain West Conference play.
Smith is a strong safety for the foreseeable future. Washington is a cornerback. Shannon Edwards, who worked his way up the depth chart as the next safety in, is the free safety.
The moves were made after a rough start against the pass — the Bulldogs are ranked 11th of 12 in the Mountain West in passing defense, allowing 324.7 yards per game, and have allowed 14 passing touchdowns while yet to intercept a pass.
Opposing quarterbacks have an efficiency rating of 201.11 — 35.46 points higher than any other team in the conference.
"It's got to be that way for a while," Toth said. "We have to have our best 11 on the field and have competition for jobs and right now we have our best 11 on the field. I think that's our best mix."
It is taking some adjustment, though.
Last season, when Washington was moved to corner the week of the conference championship game against Utah State because of injuries and ineffective play elsewhere in the defense, the Bulldogs kept Smith at free safety and inserted Dalen Jones at strong safety.
But with Edwards, strictly a free safety, outperforming Jones coming into the season the move and the adjustments to be made were with Smith. He got some reps there two weeks ago at Utah, then played there start to finish against Nebraska.
"The spacing is so much different being to the field with the ball on the hash and that I think is the biggest thing, him knowing where he can be and still make the plays he's trying to make," Toth said. "He's used to doing that to the boundary. Doing that to the field is a little bit different animal. That's the biggest thing. It's not an assignment thing, it's not an ability thing. It's more being comfortable with where he's aligning. It's not that he can't do it, it's more that he's not used to it. Instead of having 18½ yards of field, now he has 25 yards of field and that just takes a little time.
"He'll be fine. The thing for him, he has to play with more depth than he's used to playing. It took him a little time to get used to it, but I think he's getting over that hump."
Smith, who came into the season with 14 career interceptions including one from a sophomore season cut short by a broken arm suffered covering a kickoff in the third game of the season, had worked on improving his tackling angles over the summer.
They will be different now, playing closer to the line of scrimmage. But the fundamentals remain the same and then it's taking a good angle to the ball, knowing when to wrap up, when to take your shot, when to break down.
"We're working on it," Smith said. "It's not the most ideal situation, but you have to do what's best for the team and the way Shannon has been playing at free safety, it looks like we're going to stick with this rotation.
"We made a lot of improvement in this last game with it — the score might not say so, but after watching the film there was a lot of good things done. We just have to get used to it and keep rolling."