2011 Louisiana Tech Preview – Defense
Louisiana Tech DE Matt Broha
CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Louisiana Tech Bulldog Defense
Preview 2011 - Defense
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What You Need To Know: Defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler switched to a 4-2-5 look in 2010 in order to get more quickness on the field, but college football’s fifth-worst D will now spend most of its time with three linebackers. Part of the reason is to try to shake things up after finishing 117th in the nation against the pass, and part of the reason is to play to the team’s strength. The linebackers are terrific with Adrien Cole and Jay Dudley both on their way to all-star seasons, while there’s good depth and several options to play around with. The secondary has experience and a few nice players to build around in safety Chad Boyd and corner Ryan Williams, but the production has to be far, far better. The line will be fine with time, but the young tackles have to form a strong rotation right away. The ends, led by Matt Broha, are excellent.
Star of the defense: Senior DE Matt Broha
Tackles: Adrien Cole, 93
Sacks: Matt Broha, 9
Interceptions: Chad Boyd, 4
Player who has to step up and be a star:
Junior DT Jon’ai White
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore DT Shakeil Lucas
Best pro prospect: Senior LB Adrien Cole
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Broha, 2) Cole, 3) LB Jay Dudley
Strength of the defense: Linebackers, Ends
Weakness of the defense: Pass Defense, Tackle Experience
The defensive front has to replace both its starting tackles but gets both ends back. Now everyone has to be better. The run defense has to be stronger, the pass rush has to be more effective and consistent.
Stepping in at left tackle is junior Jon’al White, a 6-1, 300-pound possible anchor who is a smallish, stocky run stopper who spent two years at Jones College in Mississippi before signing with Tech. He’s not going to do too much to get into the backfield, but he’ll hold up well when needed against the run. Fighting for the job is
Adam Hymel, a smallish, quick 6-0, 265-pound veteran who made 18 tackles and forced two fumbles. Out for a time with a back injury, he has to prove he can hold up.
Sophomore Shakiel Lucas isn’t big at 6-2 and 280 pounds, but he showed good potential after bulking up from a 255-pound end. He can still move back to the outside and be a big end in the right situation, but now he has to find a way to become more of an interior pass rusher after starting three times and finishing with 25 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss. Also in the fight for the right tackle job is
Justin Ellis, a 6-2, 340-pound load who started out his career as a guard but moved to the defensive side early on. The sophomore took a while to get healthy and in shape, but he grew into part of the rotation finishing with four tackles.
6-4, 245-pound senior Matt Broha is the star of the defensive front and the team’s best pass rusher, coming up with nine sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and 44 tackles earning Second Team All-WAC honors. He’ll be the focal point of the defensive front and should provide steady pressure if he can get a little help from the other three spots, and as a beefed up linebacker playing end, he’s extremely athletic and very disruptive. 6-1, 240-pound sophomore
Kendrick James showed a little of what he could do with nine tackles with a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss, and he’ll be the understudy behind Broha.
Sophomore I.K. Enemkpali had a great first season, and now he should thrive with all the attention paid to Broha on the other side … maybe. He was suspended after an off-campus incident, but the 6-1, 255-pounder is expected to be a major factor on the line again after showing off tremendous athleticism after making 36 tackles with 2.5 sacks and six tackles for loss. If there are any concerns or problems, 6-5, 245-pound redshirt freshman
Andre Taylor should be a major factor with great speed and great-looking closing skills.
Watch Out For … Daniel Hayden. The JUCO sack artist will at the very least be a pass rush threat on third downs in the rotation with Enemkpali and Taylor. The coaching staff would love to find a steady rotation of consistent pass rushers.
Strength: Youth. Lucas and Ellis are really young, but promising, and the coaching staff is getting even more promising with several big freshmen in Dirk Tanner, Tyler Porter, and massive Malcolm Pichon coming in. If these young guys can get it together quickly, the coaching staff will finally have the depth inside that’s been lacking in the program for years.
Weakness: A second pass rusher to team with Broha. Enempkali has all the tools and put together a few good games in 2010, but he has to show he can get the job done. There are several decent prospects, but few sure things.
Outlook: The line has the potential to be decent, but it’ll count on several very young, very untested players. The inside isn’t going to be a problem, but it might take a little while for the right rotation to figure out what it’s doing. Broha is an all-star to work around, and there are athletes on the outside, but the consistent production has to be there from the backups when needed.
Unit Rating: 5.5
The potential is there for this to be the team’s biggest strength if everyone can stay healthy. There are two returning starters and promising options to form the depth and fill in the open spot, and this group should be able to clean up most of the messes left by the front line.
Senior Adrien Cole missed the last two games of the season and still finished tied for second on the team with 80 tackles. Not just great against the run, he came up with two sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss on the way to Second Team All-WAC honors. A long-time star, he took over as the team’s leading defensive star making 93 tackles with two sacks and four tackles for loss as a sophomore, and now he’s about to do even more. A huge hitter with nice range, he gets in on every stop and could be used even more to get into the backfield. With his toughness and his leadership, he’ll be one of the team’s top tacklers once again no matter where he plays.
Backing up Cole in the middle is Solomon Randle, who’s like a fourth starter. The 5-11, 235-pound junior started six times and had the job in the middle to start the year before Cole took over. Randle then started the final two games in Cole’s absence, finishing fourth on the team with 68 tackles. The team has a nice luxury of two leaders in the middle and they do not miss a beat when Randle steps in.
Also back after an all-star season, is Second Team All-WAC performer Jay Dudley, who led the team with 94 tackles with a sack and two tackles for loss. The 6-3, 225-pound senior is tremendous in the open field from the weakside and has the athleticism and speed to make things happen from sideline to sideline. The former star high school wide receiver moves extremely well and is versatile enough to play anywhere in the linebacking corps.
Stepping into a full-time role on the strongside is Dusty Rust, who’s quietly putting together a nice career. The 6-3, 225-pound senior has gotten better and better over the last few years and made 49 tackles with three tackles for loss as a spot starter, and he’s ready to come up with far more big plays. A solid tackler who doesn’t make mistakes, he’s a tough defender who produces whenever he’s on the field. However, he doesn’t get into the backfield and he doesn’t do much against the pass. A great motor and good tackling skills he should make him a big stat producer in his bigger role.
JUCO transfers Chip Hester and Antonio Mitchum were brought in to solidify the second unit and also build a bridge from the three senior starters to some of the younger linebackers on the team. The coaching staff was looking for one playmaker from the junior college ranks and found two. The 6-0, 230-pound Hester is a speedster who’s a great fit behind Dudley, while the 6-1, 245-pound Mitchum is a big, athletic defender who can play either in the middle or on the strongside.
6-1, 215-pound sophomore Rufus Porter moved up from the scout squad last year and made four tackles, working mostly on special teams, where he had a key blocked punt against Southern Miss. He’ll have to fight off several players for time, but at the very least he’ll be a star again on special teams or could see time as the third safety when Tech switches to the 4-2-5.
Watch Out For … Porter. With all of the veteran linebackers on the team, no one is expecting Porter to see a ton of playing time until next year. Tech’s top recruit in 2009, he might just force defensive coordinator Tommy Spangler to put him on the field somewhere.
Strength: Veterans. Cole and Dudley forms one of the best linebacking duos in the WAC, while Rust and Randle give the Bulldogs a fantastic top four. Throw in the JUCO transfers, and the Bulldogs are loaded with players who know what they’re doing.
Weakness: Pass defense. Tech struggles against the pass and it’s going to be up to the linebackers to help out. However, they’ll spend too much time dealing with the running game. It would be nice if the linebackers could get into the backfield a bit more.
Outlook: This is the strength of the defense, and possibly the team, with three of the team’s top four returning tacklers to count on. Cole and Dudley are terrific playmakers. There’s good depth, excellent athleticism, and the smarts and talent to clean up a lot of messes.
Unit Rating: 7
The secondary has to be better. It got torched for 290 yards per game and was 99th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. Everyone who could throw, did, with San Jose State throwing for 496 yards and five scores and Idaho bombing away for 513 yards and five touchdowns. Throw in the 532 yards put up by Hawaii, and there were plenty of ugly games. Three starters are back and the pass rush should be a bit better. Now the production has to follow.
Junior strong safety Chad Boyd tied for second on the team with 80 tackles and led the team with four interceptions on the way to Third Team All-WAC honors. The 5-10, 200-pound veteran is fantastic in run support and his four interceptions along with four broken up passes, and while he isn’t built like a big hitter, he’s a great tackler and can fly with tremendous range.
Working at one of the safety spots or as a nickel back is Javantay Crowe, a 5-11, 185-pound junior who had 58 tackles with a three broken up passes and a pick. While he’s not big, he’s known for his big hits, but he has to do more when the ball is in the air.
Starting again at free safety is 6-1, 200-pound Jamel Johnson, who made 11 tackles after coming over from Fort Scott Community College. He gives the defense a little more size at safety and started in place of the injured Crowe during spring football. Both Crowe and Johnson could see time on the field together when the D goes to a 4-2-5 alignment.
Back at his left corner spot is Ryan Williams, a 5-11, 185-pound senior who started out his career at Auburn and took over a starting gig last year making 43 tackles with two picks and five broken up passes. Fast, he can stay with any receiver in the WAC, but he isn’t built to be a huge hitter. His job is to be a lock-down cover corner, while junior
Dave Clark is a strong backup with 6-2, 190-pound size and good tackling skills. The former Tennessee Vol is getting over a knee injury, but he’s ready.
Working on the other side is senior DeMarcion Evans, who spend last year as a special teamer and didn’t come up with any stops, and at 5-8 and 175 pounds he doesn’t have a world of size. However, he’s extremely quick. He’ll be pushed by
Terry Carter, a 5-10, 190-pound senior with tremendous speed and decent experience making 45 tackles two years ago and 18 last year with a broken up pass. A speedster who can stay with any receiver in the WAC, he finished second in the 200 in the 2005 Louisiana state high school track championships and was part of the 2006 title winning 4x200 relay team.
When he’s not seeing time at corner, senior Justin Goodman will get a shot as the team’s nickel back and will be a key backup. The 5-10, 180-pound former JUCO transfer made 20 tackles and showing of good range.
Watch Out For … Clark. Williams has one starting job, and it’s an open casting call for the other spot. Evans will push for it, Carter has a shot, but it’s Carter who looked like the strongest of the lot this offseason.
Strength: Run Support. Boyd and Crowe bring the heat and will make opponents think twice about going over the middle of the field. Williams does a nice job against as well, and is one of the WAC’s most well-rounded cornerbacks.
Weakness: Inconsistency. Hawaii, Idaho, and San Jose State each had at least 496 yards passing against this defense a year ago. When teams wanted to bomb away, they did.
Outlook: Tech’s pass defense was a disaster, but there are too any options and too many athletes to be so miserable again. The talent is there, with Boyd, Crowe (when healthy), and Williams good players to work around. Now the defensive backfield has to prove it can produce.
Unit Rating: 5
Junior Matt Nelson is back after a strong second year, nailing 12-of-16 kicks after hitting was 10-of-14 shots as a freshman. He improved on his yards per kickoff by 4.5 yards over his freshman year to an average of 61.4 yards in 2010, and he connected on three of his five attempts from beyond 40 yards.
Junior Ryan Allen solidified the punting position after a lousy 2009, averaging 40.8 yards forcing 21 fair catches and putting a whopping 21 inside the 20.
RB/WR Lyle Fitte led the team with an average of 26.8 yards on kickoff returns.
Ryan Williams had an average of 23.5 yards and the two players combined for 22 kickoff returns, but the star was Phillip Livas, who carried the team averaging 15.5 yards per punt return and 24.6 yards per shot on kickoff returns. Williams will handle most of the punt return duties and Richie Casey will also get the first look on kickoffs.
Watch Out For … Levander Liggins. The true freshman was a human highlight reel in high school and he has the strength and durability to go along with his speed to be a viable option for Tech in the return game right away.
Strength: The kicking game. The Bulldogs struggled to put the ball in the end zone in 2010, but Nelson gives Coach Dykes a reliable option to put points on the board. Allen bailed the team out of several jams.
Weakness: Livas. Williams only averaged two yards per punt return last year, and someone has to emerge as that feared returner that keeps opposing kickers and punters on their toes. Livas was special.
Outlook: The return game will be solid, but the punting and kicking games will be outstanding. The coverage teams, especially the punt coverage team, should be excellent. If someone can step in and make a difference in the return game, Tech could have one of the best special teams units in the WAC.
Unit Rating: 8
- 2011 Louisiana Tech Preview |
Louisiana Tech Offense
2011 Louisiana Tech Defense |
Louisiana Tech Depth Chart