With the start of the season right around the corner, I'm excited about a number of things heading into the season and I oftentimes think about what I'm most excited to see this year. These are the things I'm excited to see this year and absolutely will love to see what you're excited to see. The topics that I'll cover are the offense in general, the defense in general, the special teams, the newcomers and the veterans.
How the 4-2-5 Will Literally Work
I've written extensively about the 4-2-5 and I think as a result of that, we're all better off having taken a look at the various principles of the 4-2-5. The one thing that I haven't even touched is exactly how it's all going to work. I'm excited to know that the actual implementation of the defense only takes three days, that it's a relatively simple scheme to understand and that part of the simplicity is that the defense is able to make calls that are independent of various position groups. But most importantly, I'm most excited to see how this works. I really want to re-watch the spring game to see if I can pin-point any of those things that I saw and make sense of what I think Glasgow is trying to do. Not only that, with only having a couple of weeks worth of practice, I'm excited to see what Glasgow can do with more time to actually teach the various stunts, twists and blitzes that can make this defense difficult for offenses to stop and unpredictable. Bottom line, I want to see it happen on the field. My only concern, and granted I shouldn't be writing about concerns in a post where I'm supposed to be writing about things I'm excited about, is whether or not this defense will be hampered by having to play three different defensive schemes in three years. Still, I think that the defensive players are young enough to simply put last year behind them and chalk last year's 3-4 experiment what it was. Just not the right personnel to do what was asked of them.
The Maturation of
I think Tre' Porter gets overlooked. As a true freshman last year, playing both safety and cornerback, he was 3rd on the team in tackles with 76, 1 interception, 4.0 tackles for a loss, and 6 passes broken up. The only other transition that may be more difficult than cornerback is probably quarterback and for Porter to make that big of an impact so early in his career makes me think that a permanent move to cornerback is only going to help. Additionally, Porter may be the best athlete on the team (apologizes to all other players that may take offense to that) and for the coaching staff to feel that he can be burdened last year as a true freshman with the task of learning two positions plus the staff thinking that as a true freshman he had no fear in hitting opposing player and playing safety. The cornerback position was ravaged last year and I think there's tremendous value in having a player of Porter's caliber settling in one position is going to pay off in a big way for this team.
More, after the jump.
A Deep and Talented Defensive Line
The depth at defensive line is almost completely unproven, but there are a lot of players that have the potential to contribute and be part of a rotation of defensive linemen that all play and all hopefully wear down opponents. I keep thinking that with all of the injuries last year, it afforded a handful of players the opportunity to receive some snaps that will pay off this year and into the future.
Just for reference purposes, here's a list of the defensive tackles and nose guards:
Chris Perry SR (6-4/309)
Coby Coleman RS FR (6-2/317)
Pearlie Graves SO (6-2/286)
Donald Langley SR (6-2/274)
Kerry Hyder SO (6-2/265)
Lawrence Rumph SR (6-3/284)
Dennell Wesley JR (6-3/315)
Delvon Simmons FR (6-5/265)
Donte Phillips FR (6-3/260)
And defensive ends:
Aundrey Barr SO (6-2/230)
Dartwan Bush SO (6-1/248)
Christopher Knighton SO (6-1/250)
Jackson Richards RS FR (6-3/248)
Scott Smith SR (6-6/266)
Leon Mackey JR (6-5/260)
Kindred Evans FR (6-5/215)
Branden Jackson FR (6-6/220)
Cooper Washington FR (6-4/225)
This assumes that Sam Fehoko doesn't play at defensive end, which he might, but I still say he's better suited to play linebacker.
So what does all of this mean, well, there are nine defensive tackles or nose guards for just two spots and nine defensive ends for two spots. They all can't play at the same time, and to have 18 scholarship spots for just two positions probably tells you how much this staff values the defensive line position. I like that.
In all honesty, I think that of the nine available defensive tackles and nose guards, you probably will not see Phillips or Coleman this year. I still think that Coleman could use an additional year to lay low until Langley and Rumph graduate. That still gives Glasgow and Prunty seven players to rotate in and out of that rotation.
At defensive end, I think we've all figured out that Smith will be suspended for the first four games and realistically speaking, I think that Evans, Jackson and Washington will all redshirt this year. Even without Smith, this still leaves a rotation of Barr, Bush, and Richards, with Mackey being the wildcard. I think Mackey is going to shine, and when Smith becomes eligible, you can have both of them on the field at the same time, or you can them rotate throughout the game. And we haven't even talked about Bush, who may be the best natural pass-rusher amongst the bunch and Richards, who has yet to take a snap.
[Note by Seth C, 07/27/11 10:28 AM CDT ] Sorry, I wrote this over the weekend and forgot to revise it this morning. Please ignore references to Coleman and Rumph.
Now it's your turn. Tell me what you're excited to see on defense this year.