2011 Preview: Defensive Line
Who we lose: Sean Murnane
Key returners: Kenny McClendon, Steve Winston, John Williams, Caesar Rodriguez, Kashawn Fraser, Daniel Jackson and Darryl Stinson
2010 Red Shirts: Leterrius Walton and Andy Phillips
Could skip red shirt?: Shafer Johnson or Matt Losiniecki
Sean Murnane was a force and will be sorely missed next season but Coach Tumpkin was able to get some good game experience to some younger pieces—particularly at the DE position. And despite Murnane’s departure, this group can only get better as they struggled mightily to stop the run and pressure the QB in 2011. The defensive line is extremely deep and if nothing, should stay fresh most games.
Among those given early time is returning Sophomore, Kenny McClendon. Although McClendon did not have eye popping stats in 2010, his play was solid and will be ready to rotate with Fraser.
Another young piece that looked impressive was DE, Caesar Rodriguez. Caesar appeared in 10 of the Chippewas games last year and really had an endless motor while on the field. In the Chippewas debut game vs. Hampton, Rodriguez recorded 2 sacks but failed to record another all season. The Chippewas need strong, consistent play from Caesar in 2011 if they hope to pressure the QB.
Kashon Fraser is one the most talented and experienced defensive linemen on the team but has had a string of run ins with local police. He remains on the team and will be a huge help if he can stay the course and be the leader the Chippewa defense sorely needs.
An important piece of the defensive line is returning DT, John Williams. Williams appeared in all 12 games last season and led the DL in total tackles. Expect another solid season from this team leader.
The Chippewas rotated a slew of capable defensive tackles throughout the game in 2011 but did not have the luxury of swapping in Leterrius Walton. Walton was a red shirt last season and it must have taken every bit of will power for Coach Enos to keep him on the bench because everything out of Mt. Pleasant last year indicated Walton was ready. Walton has an unstoppable motor and is incredibly athletic—expect him to play both DT and stunt to the DE.
It’s all riding on…
…stopping the run. Football can sometimes be summed up by the ability to do two things: run the football and stop the run. In 2010, the Chippewas did neither—anyone watching the Bowling Green game knows exactly what I’m talking about. The 2011 season gives the Chippewa defensive line a chance to wipe the slate clean and get back to the way football was meant to be played. A successful 2011 starts with stuffing the run.
…the ability to rush the QB. This sounds simple enough, but in recent seasons the Chippewas defense has been gashed countless times by athletic QBs who burn the defense to the edge. If the Chippewa’s DL can pressure the QB and finish the job, 2011 could be a much different season from the doom and gloom of the ’10 season. The interior linemen are young and plentiful and should do a decent job of engaging the middle of the OL while the defensive ends do some quarterback hunting on the edges. If the DL can can put pressure on the QB, the turnover margin is bound to turn around and the Chippewas will be winning the close heartbreakers they lost all of 2010.
Despite the lack of immediate high hopes for this group, Dan Enos has made it a top priority to recruit talented defensive linemen and guys that can be shaped into gamers. If 2011 isn’t the Chippewas season for mashing QBs, it is definitely coming with a little patience.