Unit Analysis: Defensive line

Posted: July 21, 2014 in Football

The defensive line was a major strength of the team last season, but heading into the 2014 season there are a lot of questions up front. The Bulls will have to replace 4 defensive ends that had extensive playing time last year and the defense is shifting more to a 3-4 look as well, adding more factors to go over heading into the fall.

Here is the 2013 roster:

Julius Forte – 6’2″ 253 lbs. – Redshirt senior

Ryne Giddins – 6’3″ 253 lbs. – Redshirt senior

Mike Love – 6’4″ 213 lbs. – Freshman

James Hamilton – 6’4″ 308 lbs. – Sophomore

Anthony Hill – 6’4″ 281 lbs. – Redshirt senior

Eric Lee – 6’3″ 230 lbs. – Sophomore

Aaron Lynch – 6’6″ 244 lbs. – Redshirt sophomore

Tevin Mims – 6’3″ 246 lbs. – Senior

Clavion Nelson – 6’3″ 289 lbs. – Redshirt sophomore

Daniel Perry – 6’7″ 248 lbs. – Redshirt freshman

Elkino Watson – 6’2″ 286 lbs. – Junior

Derrick Calloway – 6’2″ 328 lbs. – Freshman

Todd Chandler – 6′ 317 lbs. – Redshirt junior

Luke Sager – 6’3″ 275 lbs. – Redshirt senior

Deadrin Senat – 6’1″ 318 lbs. – Freshman

Demi Thompson – 6’1″ 287 lbs. – Redshirt senior

The Bulls had a great defensive line last year with seniors at the defensive end spots (Giddins, Mims, and Forte) and up the middle with Sager among others that were able to rotate in throughout the year. With depth and veteran leadership, the defensive line became a major strength under first year defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan. At the end of the year though, several players left, leaving a big time void in experience, especially at the end spots. Here are the players that left at the end of the year.

Julius Forte – Graduated

Ryne Giddins – Graduated

Anthony Hill – Graduated

Aaron Lynch – NFL

Tevin Mims – Graduated

Luke Sager – Graduated

Demi Thompson – Graduated

Here is how the 2013 depth chart looked at the end of the year:

DE: Aaron Lynch/Rynne Giddins

DT: Luke Sager/James Hamilton

DT: Elkino Watson/Todd Chandler

DE: Tevin Mims/Julius Forte

The Bulls lost 4 defensive ends that played the majority of snaps in 2014 and a key starter at defensive tackle. That’s a lot to replace. The Bulls could be playing a lot more of a 3-4 style in 2014 which could help with the lack of experience at the end spot, but they will still have some 4-3 sets when necessary.  With that said, here is the returning roster for the 2014 season.

Daniel Awoleke – 6’5″ 250 lbs. – Junior

Demetrius Hill – 6’3″ 255 lbs. – Junior (part of the 2014 recruiting class)

Mike Love – 6’4″ 242 lbs. – Redshirt freshman

Eric Lee – 6’3″ 257 lbs. – Junior

Clavion Nelson – 6’3″ 297 lbs. – Junior

Daniel Perry – 6’7″ 261 lbs. – Sophomore

Elkino Watson – 6’2″ 289 lbs. – Senior

Derrick Calloway – 6’2″ 296 lbs. – Sophomore

Todd Chandler – 6′ 320 lbs. – Senior

James Hamilton – 6’2″ 311 lbs. – Junior

Bruce Hector – 6’2″ 289 lbs. – Redshirt freshman

Kieran Pettus – 6’3″ 239 lbs. – Sophomore

Deadrin Senat – 6’1″ 318 lbs. – Redshirt freshman

Here are the incoming players in the 2014 class:

Rohan Blackwood – 6’5″ 220 lbs. – 3-stars

Eric Mayes – 6’5″ 270 lbs. – 3-stars (not eligible to play this year)

The first thing that jumps off with the returning roster is the lack of experience at the defensive end position. Players like Daniel Perry, Eric Lee, and newcomer Demetrius Hill will all have plenty of snaps this fall and will all be pushing for a starting job. However, with the lack of depth at the end spot and the number of big and athletic linebackers the Bulls have, a 3-4 set-up could become the norm throughout the year, which means players like Elkino Watson, who might regularly be defensive tackles, could be at the end spot with a linebacker standing up for a blitz. The Bulls aren’t lacking as much at the defensive tackle position and have several talented players that will be pushing for starting jobs and a lot of playing time. James Hamilton and Todd Chandler will be pushing for starting jobs, but several young players like Derrick Calloway (saw some time last year), Deadrin Senat and Bruce Hector will all be pushing for depth chart spots in the fall.

Here is a projected 4-3 depth chart on how the Bulls could line up:

DE: Hill/Perry

DT: James Hamilton/Derrick Calloway

DT: Elkino Watson/Todd Chandler

DE: Lee/Love

Here is what they could look like in the 3-4. Again, this is just a best guess at the depth chart at this stage.

DT: Todd Chandler/Derrick Calloway

NT: James Hamilton/Deadrin Senat

DE: Elkino Watson/Demetrius Hill

Grade: B-. The grade is all pending on how the youth on the roster can develop for the Bulls. The defensive end spot continues to worry me without any real proven depth their. The defensive tackle spot has a lot of talent but again, while they have more experience than the ends, they are still rather young in the two-deep. How will the team look and operate in the 3-4 set? Will new comers like Vincent Jackson have a chance to play at the end spot or will someone like Watson have the chance to line up at the edge to play in the 3-4? There are just a lot of questions for  this unit moving forward, leading to the lower grade.

Again, this is a best guess at a depth chart before the fall camp begins. I would like to hear people’s opinions on the matter but if you claim I’m 100% wrong and know better, please feel free to grace us with your 100% accurate roster (waiting for trolls already). These are at best educated guesses, no one knows how the depth chart will unfold in the fall, so put the pitch forks down, it’s just a way to start discussion.




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