15.Aug.2010 Discussion: Defense
With less than three weeks to go, it's time to analyze the most important component of any football team: the defense.
The one thing that concerns me at DE is depth. Beaver fans should have faith in both starters. Henry was a force last year and should have received more playing time than he did. Miller is equally adapt. Both should have breakout years and put pressure on the QB in passing downs. Neither is particularly stout against the run. Henry could wind up being a (very good) third down specialist.
When you're talking Andrew Seumalo as the number one backup that's flat out scary. Glover and his 4-star rating look good on paper, and I do think he'll be a player by the time all is said and done, but right now in camp he is unproductive. Glover's size will help immediately on running downs, and as I note below, the Beavers are going to need that. Devon Kell is a guy to keep an eye on.
Again, much like DE, the starters are excellent. Brennan "the clown" Olander and Paea are as good as it gets. Behind them are Masaniai and Frahm. Not only is that a scary backup situation for this year, but next year we're looking at a bottom of the conference finish unless we find some help or one of the scrubs emerges.
To me, this group is the weakest on paper. For a school that dubs itself "Linebacker U, west coast" they sure have a lot of problems at the linebacker position. Dwight Roberson is the only solid starter whom you can count on to make routine tackles. Pankey flails and misses tackles constantly. As a senior, he is still undersized for his position. Based on pictures, Reuben Robinson appears to be undersized and have scoliosis (look at the arch in his lower back). Tony Wilson looks out of shape and by all accounts cannot shed blocks. I think the Beavers are going to have a very bad year on defense, and this group is the reason why. Teams are going to lineup and pound the ball at the Beavers and tackles will be made 10-15 yards down field by the safeties. Kevin Unga is the play at MLB, and if he starts bump the unit up to a C. The under classmen are extremely talented but won't get any time.
Hardin and Poyer are quite the players. Dockery is what he is: a batted pass here, a blown coverage there. If Poyer were allowed to overtake Doc, this unit would be so solid, but as it will play out…
Moving the oversized-for-his-position Cameron Collins to MLB would have been the proper strategy this off-season. Collins is way too bulky to be chasing down and/or covering WRs and TEs. He'll be good in run-support if he's able to get to the spot in time. Tuimaunei is making a push this fall because Collins isn't getting it done. That's a scary thought, isn't it? Even after the debacle in the Rose Bowl, Mitchell is the number one play-maker in the secondary. LaGrone and Dilbeck are backups who can get the job done.
With the plethora of safeties, young LBs, and wide receivers, this unit should once again be excellent defending kickoffs.
As fall camp progresses, it's becoming clear what type of team this will be. On offense they will be able to move the ball, yet turnovers will be their detriment. On defense, they won't be able to stop the run. This is a fairly deadly combination. We can blame the MLB (#45) for leaving the team, but at the end of the day it's the head coach's responsibility to recruit capable backups and have them properly developed. Like I said, moving Cameron Collins to MLB would have been a good play for many reasons. I'd like a reason as to why it didn't happen, but it's unlikely the media is going to ask that question. Anyway, you heard it here first: the run defense is going to be the achilles heal. Order your toupees now, beavlettes, because you're going to pull your hair out versus TCU's excellent ground attack.