Reviewing the units: Defensive line

Posted: December 11, 2014 in Football

The Bulls took a major shot to the depth chart at the end of the 2013 season as 4 defensive ends left. USF and the coaching staff decided to switch the defense to a 3-4 format, using a big nose tackle and two defensive ends, compared to the traditional 4-3 set they had run the year before. There were reasons for this that we will get into as we review the unit and its grade at the end of the year. 

Preseason grade: B-

The preseason grade was low for many reasons. One was the lack of returning depth on the roster. Losing 4 defensive ends with tons of experience was worrisome and just based on pure returning numbers, the unit was thin. Then there was the shift to the 3-4. The move to this front was partially out of necessity for Coach Bresnahan. I was a bit wary of only having one big tackle in the middle with such young linebackers behind him and inexperienced linemen on the edges. So, I had to give them a slightly lower grade entering the year due to the lack of experienced depth on the roster. It just seemed iffy on paper and I worried about teams both running the ball and how the front would generate pressure. Now, let’s see how each player did this season.

#93 Daniel Awoleke – 6’5″ 272 lbs. – Junior – Did not play this year

#99 Kevin Bronson – 6’4″ 265 lbs. – Freshman – Did not play this year

#9 Demetrius Hill – 6’3″ 270 lbs. – Junior – 25 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 FR

#15 Vincent Jackson Jr. – 6’2″ 246 lbs. – Freshman – Did not play this year

#91 Eric Lee – 6’3″ 248 lbs. – Junior – 28 tackles, 6 TFL

#98 Mike Love – 6’4″ 245 lbs. – Redshirt freshman – Appeared in 3 games, no stats

#97 Nicholas Munera – 6’5″ 220 lbs. – Freshman – Did not play this year

#65 Clavion Nelson – 6’3″ 302 lbs. – Junior – Did not play this year

#94 Daniel Perry – 6’7″ 260 lbs. – Sophomore – Appeared in 4 games, no stats

#53 Elkino Watson – 6’2″ 291 lbs. – Senior – 36 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 2 sacks

#8 Derrick Calloway – 6’2″ 285 lbs. – Sophomore – 30 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 sacks

#95 Todd Chandler – 6′ 321 lbs. – Senior – 37 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2 FR

#90 James Hamilton – 6’2″ 301 lbs. – Junior – 5 tackles, 1 TFL

#60 Bruce Hector – 6’2″ 296 lbs. – Appeared in 6 games, no stats

#61 Kieran Pettus – 6’3″ 239 lbs. – Sophomore – Did not play this year

#10 Deadrin Senat – 6’1″ 300 lbs. – Redshirt freshman – 18 tackles, .5 TFL

The unit simply struggled in 2014. They produced fewer sacks, fewer tackles for loss, allowed more rushing yardage than the year before, and just simply didn’t succeed in the new 3-4 scheme. There are a lot of factors into why this unit struggled. They lost a lot of experience at the end of last year for one and had to rely on the younger players to step up. They were forced to switch to the 3-4, a brand new system that was foreign to them and took time to get use to. There were also injuries (Todd Chandler) and suspension (Elkino Watson) that took regular players out of the mix throughout the year. Overall, the unit just didn’t produce and the unit in general took a step back in 2014.

Postseason grade: C-

One of the lowest grades for any unit, but when you are 4-8, bad grades are expected all around. There are a lot of circumstances that led to the down year, I get that. But in the end, when running backs could run up the middle for long gains, time after time. When quarterbacks could file their taxes and order Starbucks while dropping back and never facing pressure, the reality is the unit didn’t get it done, leading to a long year. Does the unit have talent? Yes, I truly believe so. Derrick Calloway, Deadrin Senat, and Demetrius Hill all have a lot of talent. Eric Lee is a reliable end. Young players like Kevin Bronson, Vincent Jackson, Bruce Hector, and Mike Love are all huge parts of the unit moving forward, but they didn’t change the fortunes of this unit in 2014. So, the grade is in and it isn’t good.

 

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