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2011 ULM Preview – Defense
ULM DE Ken Dorsey
ULM DE Ken Dorsey
Posted Jul 25, 2011 2011 Preview - ULM Warhawk Defense

ULM Warhawks

Preview 2011 - Defense

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What You Need To Know: Defensive coordinator Troy Reffett’s 3-3-5 defense didn’t exactly dominate last year, but it got the job done finishing second in the Sun Belt in total defense and first against the run for the second year in a row. There was decent pressure on the quarterback from time to time, but there weren’t enough plays made in the backfield on a regular basis. That might change this year with ends Ken Dorsey and Troy Evans among the best in the league, while Cameron Blakes and Jason Edwards are tremendously disruptive linebackers who’ll have to be gameplanned for. The secondary isn’t special and there’s no size, but there’s decent experience and everyone can move. Safety Darius Prelow should be an all-star in the third safety spot, or the Hawk.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Jason Edwards, 75
Sacks: Cameron Blakes, 6
Interceptions: Darius Prelow, 2

Star of the defense: Junior LB Cameron Blakes
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore NT Kentarius Caldwell
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore S Isaiah Newsome
Best pro prospect: Senior DE Ken Dorsey
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Blakes, 2) Dorsey, 3) LB Jason Edwards
Strength of the defense: Ends, Linebacker
Weakness of the defense: Size, Defensive Tackle

Defensive Line

State of the Unit: The Warhawks run a 3-3-5 scheme that’s aggressive and great against the run. The defense has the talent on the ends to potentially lead the way to another season on top of the Sun Belt in run D. The key will be to develop a good rotation early on, but the depth is relatively inexperienced. To start, though, everything should be great at end, but iffy in the middle.

There was some concern about where the pass rush was going to come from when Aaron Morgan was done, and senior Ken Dorsey stepped up and came up with a great year making 52 tackles with five sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and a 56-yard interception return on the way to an All-Sun Belt season. The 6-0, 270-pounder is built like a tackle, but he’s quick off the ball and he’s well back to form after breaking his leg a few years ago. He might not be a big-time pass rusher, but he’s a playmaker.

Back on the other side is senior Troy Evans, a top talent who missed most of last year hurt, but came back in time to start the final two games of the season and finish with six tackles with a tackle for loss. A star in the making a few years ago, the 6-1, 250-pound veteran made 32 tackles with 6.5 sacks in 2009, and now he has to show the same burst and production.

The problem is in the middle with new playmakers on the nose needing to emerge. Too small, 6-2, 254-pound sophomore Kentarius Caldwell spent a little time last year on the end making six tackles. Quick, he needs to make up for his lack of bulk by getting off the ball in a hurry and being active. He’ll be a part of a rotation with 6-2, 266-pound sophomore Emmanuel Jefferies, a spot starter who got the call over the last four games of the season and finished with eight tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss. The former tight end isn’t really a true tackle, but he held up well and has good athleticism. The cousin of former Indiana basketball star, Jared Jefferies, can move.

Looking to make a big splash right away, after redshirting last year, is 6-1, 250-pound redshirt freshman Malcolm Edmond, the cousin of Chicago Bear RB Matt Forte. He has speed rusher potential, while 6-2, 219-pound redshirt freshman Darius Lively is like a safety playing end. He’ll be a situational pass rusher.

Watch Out For … The tackle rotation. The run defense got nice production out of everyone who manned the nose, and now it’ll be between Caldwell and Jefferies to be the anchor. Neither one has the bulk strength to hold up against the pounders, but they’re strong and quick.
Strength: The ends. Dorsey and Evans aren’t the typical defensive ends, but they’re good fits for the 3-3-5 alignment. Dorsey is one of the Sun Belt’s elite all-around ends, and Evans, when healthy, isn’t far off.
Weakness: Size. There are a few thick players like Dorsey, but there isn’t a ton of size. The D might have been No. 1 in the Sun Belt against the run, but offenses with mobile quarterbacks and good lines were able to fly around.
Outlook: As long as Evans and Dorsey can stay healthy, the line should be solid. The key to the front three is the rotation, and there needs to be a steady one in the middle. Even with three different players starting on the nose, and with a backup working on the end for most of the year, the line was fine. Now it should be far stronger.
Unit Rating: 5


State of the Unit: The linebackers did a strong job in the 3-3-5 alignment, and now there’s reason for excitement with proven producers and a few nice surprises from spring ball ready to shine through. The two top returning tacklers from last season are back, and they should be in the mix for all-star honors.

Senior Jason Edwards came up with a strong season in the middle, and while he wasn’t the star that Cardia Jackson was for several years, he was productive leading the way with 75 tackles with two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. He’s not huge at 5-10 and 230 pounds, but he’s a quick defender and a strong tackler who’s always around the ball. He’ll be backed by senior C.C. Carpenter, a smallish 5-11, 226-pound inside defender who has spend most of his time on special teams making seven tackles last season.

6-1, 218-pound junior Cameron Blakes turned out to be major factor as he started to live up to his tremendous prep hype. While he’s not all that big, he was a top recruit for the program and used his motor and athleticism as a dangerous all-around playmaker finishing second on the team with 74 tackles with a team-leading six sacks and 11 tackles for loss. A pure pass rusher, he gets into the background like he was shot out of a cannon. Sophomore Tristan Warren started out his career as a wide receiver and now will spend his time at linebacker. Physical enough to be considered a possible safety, he’s ready to add speed to the outside.

The new star of the lot could be senior Lincston Jones, a career special teamer who has done next to nothing until rocking in the offseason. At 6-0 and 244 pounds he’s the team’s biggest linebacker by far, and while he’ll be asked to be disruptive, his worth will be as a run stopper because of his size. 6-2, 216-pound sophomore Ray Stovall was a top defensive end prospect, and while he’s not all that big, he’s a pure pass rusher should grow into a statistical star in a little bit of time. He made five tackles last year, but he’ll be in the backfield on a regular basis.

Watch Out For … Jones. Is he really going to be as strong as he was in spring ball? The team needed someone to take one of the outside jobs by the horns, and Jones was able to do just that.
Strength: Edwards and Blakes. The Warhawks have two veteran tacklers who should be among the most sound, strong linebackers in the conference. Blakes is the better of the two, but as a tandem they should be a lock for 150 combined tackles and several plays behind the line. They’ll clean up plenty of messes.
Weakness: Speed. Considering the linebacking corps is full of good athletes, it was sort of shocking how there were so many problems against the faster ground attacks. Mobile quarterbacks rumbled against this group without a problem.
Outlook: This might not be the team’s biggest strength, but it’ll be a major positive with two tackling machines in Edwards and Blakes leading the way. If Jones is the real deal, and if the backups can make things happen behind the line when they get their chances, this should be a very, very strong group.
Unit Rating: 5

Defensive Backs

State of the Unit: The secondary underwent the team’s biggest change last year with five defensive backs being used. Adding an extra safety to the mix, the results were mixed with some decent games against the mediocre passing teams, while the more speed on the field helped the cause against the run. There’s a little bit of work to be done, but there’s just enough talent to get by if the pass rush from the front six is solid.

The best of the returning lot is senior Darius Prelow , a 6-0, 204-pounder who serves as sort of a Hawk/third safety and has the experience and toughness to be the leader to work around. Tied for second on the team with 74 tackles with two picks and seven broken up passes, he’s all over the field serving a variety of roles. A great hitter with a nose for the ball, he’s a great tackler with terrific range.

Senior Nate Brown is a veteran who has been moved around where needed. With 26 career starts at corner, he’s a speedy, smart defender, but he only made 29 tackles and didn’t pick off a pass last season after having problems staying healthy. At 5-9 and 181 pounds he’s not all that big, he’s aggressive and he isn’t afraid to tackle. The former wideout will move to safety where he should be all over the field. He’ll combine at one spot with junior Khairi Usher , a 5-9, 199-pound junior who made 29 tackles in six games of work. Physical against the run and with corner speed, the cousin of former NBA star Antoine Walker will put up nice numbers when he gets his chances.

Sophomore Isaiah Newsome took over a starting safety job late last year and finished with 37 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and five broken up passes. The 5-11, 187-pounder came to ULM as a running back, but he quickly showed that his skills translate to the other side of the ball with excellent speed and nice range. He’ll be backed up by wide receiver Tim Taylor , a fast 5-9, 179-pounder who made two catches for 19 yards. After making the switch this spring, he’ll try to close out his career with a bang.

Former wide receiver Otis Peterson was thrown to the wolves at one corner spot early on last year and he came through with a nice year. The 5-11, 163-pound sophomore is rail thin and isn’t going to bring a big pop, but he’s a speedster with great skills making 42 tackles with a pick and four tackles for loss. Watch out once he really figures out what he’s doing. Redshirt freshman Rob’Donovan Lewis will be the key backup after sitting out last season. The former Memphis Tiger is 5-10, 171 pounds, and fast with just enough hitting ability to work at free safety if needed.

5-8, 153-pound sophomore Vincent Eddie isn’t big and will have a nightmare of a time with the bigger more physical receivers, but he can move. The cousin of NFL legend and Notre Dame Heisman winner Tim Brown, Eddie is a feisty tackler who made 15 stops and broke up two passes in his limited role. 5-8, 188-pound redshirt freshman Justin Criswell is a former high school star receiver who also got the job done as a defensive back. Very quick and with great hands, he’ll be an interesting part of the equation.

Watch Out For … Peterson. He has all the skills, but he needed time logged in. With nine starts last year, he’s ready to grow into the team’s No. 1 corner spot.
Strength: Quickness. Everyone can tackle and no one’s afraid to get their nose dirty, but the key is the athleticism and speed to go along with the experience. Everyone will fly around the ball in a hurry.
Weakness: Interceptions. The team came up with just 12 picks, and only three came from the returning defensive backs. There isn’t a lot of size and there aren’t enough ball hawkers.
Outlook: This is an athletic group that likes to tackle, and with so many defensive backs being used there needs to be a good rotation. This isn’t going to be a lockdown secondary by any stretch, but it’ll be good enough to get by in the Sun Belt against the average passing teams.
Unit Rating: 5

Special Teams

State of the Unit: Senior Radi Jabour overcame a shaky sophomore season by hitting 8-of-10 field goals with one getting blocked. He doesn’t have much range with his longest connection from 42 yards, but he’s a veteran who’ll be solid from close.

The punting game was mediocre, but Aaron Munoz is a veteran with decent accuracy. The ultra-athletic senior – he has seen time at receiver and defensive back and is a backup quarterback – averaged just 38.6 yards per kick but put 15 inside the 20 and forced 16 fair catches. He put a mere two kicks into the end zone for touchbacks.

The punt return game was among the worst in the nation averaging 3.5 yards per try, and now it’ll be up to Brent Leonard to start doing far more after averaging just 2.4 yards on his five attempts. The kickoff return game should be fine with RB Jyruss Edwards back after averaging 24.3 yards per try and WR Luther Ambrose one of the fastest players in college football.

Watch Out For … Ambrose to get a little more work on kickoff returns. He got 20 tries and averaged a mediocre 19.8 yards per try, but he’s way too fast to not keep giving him a shot.
Strength: Experience. Everyone is back. The kicking game might not be spectacular, but it should be solid, while the returners know what they’re doing.
Weakness: Punt returns. Only six teams in America were worse at returning punts, and for an offense that could always use field position help, more pop would be nice.
Outlook: ULM special teams haven’t been a major strength over the years, but they weren’t too awful last year in any one area but punt returns, and with so much experience back, the expectations should be reasonably high to be decent.
Unit Rating: 6

- 2011 ULM Preview | 2011 ULM Offense
- 2011 ULM Defense | 2011 ULM Depth Chart
- ULM Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006