2012 Bowling Green Preview – Defense
Bowling Green DT Chris Jones
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Bowling Green Defense
Preview 2012 - Defense
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What You Need To Know: The Bowling Green defense had to undergo a major rebuilding job a few years ago, and it all started to pay off last season with a solid year from the secondary and an improved season from the run defense. But that production shouldn't stop there with eight starters back and enough depth to play around with the rotation and the lineup in several spots. The secondary in the 4-2-5 should be terrific with five returning starters and plenty of versatility, but the group has to make more big plays and come up with more picks. The line should get into the backfield thanks to interior pass rushing terror Chris Jones, but it has to be far stronger against the run. Dwayne Woods is one of the most productive linebackers in the MAC and should be in the hunt for Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Star of the defense: Senior LB Dwayne Woods
Tackles: Dwayne Woods, 111
Sacks: Chris Jones, 8.5
Interceptions: BooBoo Gates, 2
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore S Brian Sutton
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore S Ryland Ward
Best pro prospect: Woods
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Woods, 2) DT Chris Jones, 3) S Jerry "BooBoo" Gates
Strength of the defense: Experience, Linebacker
Weakness of the defense: Run Defense, Interceptions
The defensive front struggled against the run but it showed improvement in the pass rush thanks to the continued strong play of Chris Jones, a 6-1, 295-pound defensive tackle who's been one of the best interior pass rushers in the MAC. He followed up a six-sack campaign with a first-team All-MAC season leading the team with 8.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and 47 tackles. Quick off the ball and always working, he's great at getting into the backfield and being disruptive, but he has to hold up better against the stronger running teams.
Working next to Jones on the inside is 6-5, 295-pound junior Jairus Campbell, a promising presence who filled out his frame and now has the potential to be a major factor against the run after making 20 tackles in the rotation. However, he hasn't been much of a pass rusher so far; that's for Jones to take care of.
Jones is the key to the interior, but 6-3, 273-pound junior Ted Ouellet is a proven starter who got the call six times last year and came up with 20 tackles with a sack. Banged up, he was fine when he got his chances and will be a key part of the rotation. When he's right, he can be a terrific interior pass rusher.
Back on the outside if 6-2, 240-pound junior Ronnie Goble, who came back from a shoulder injury that knocked him out in 2010 to make 20 tackles with a sack and four tackles for loss. He's quick and athletic, but he has to be able to get to the quarterback on a regular basis. Looking to make a push behind him is Shaq Hall, a 6-2, 237-pound redshirt freshman out of Naples, Florida, who could be a diamond in the rough. Very fast and athletic, he played just one year of high school football but that was enough to earn all-star honors and get him to Bowling Green. After beefing up a bit, he should make a big impact.
Looking to provide a push into the backfield at the other end is Zach Colvin, a 6-2, 271-pound sophomore who made 11 tackles with a sack in his limited time. With excellent size and a good burst, he could end up working as a quick interior pass rusher if he doesn't stick on the outside. He'll be backed up by Bryan Thomas, a promising backup who made two tackles and recovered two fumbles as a special teamer and on the end. The 6-2, 248-pound sophomore will play a bigger role.
Watch Out For … Hall. He's not going to take over a starting job just yet, but as he gets down the finer points of being a defensive end and a football player he could be a breakout dominator of a situational pass rusher.
Strength: The tackles. Jones isn't going anywhere, but the combination of Campbell and Ouellet gives the Falcons a solid second tackle and should be more productive as long as they can stay healthy. Colvin is big enough to be tried out on the inside on occasion.
Weakness: Run defense. It's been a problem over the last few years and it's probably not going to be that much better even with all the experience returning. There's decent size and the tackles should be solid, but this is more of a finesse line than a power one.
Outlook: Can this be the year when everything starts to come together? The talent is in place and the experience is there, but can the production follow after years of struggling against the run? The pass rush has to start coming from the outside and Jones needs more help in the interior, but the pieces are there to hope for a positive step forward.
Unit Rating: 5
The Falcons have one of the best players in the MAC in veteran linebacker Dwayne Woods, who followed up a 134-tackle sophomore season with 111 stops with two sacks and 14 tackles for loss. A 5-11, 227-pound guided missile of a middle linebacker he has unlimited range and manages to get in on every play. Great in the open field and tough when he has to get through the trash, the first-team All-MAC star is the Bowling Green defense and manages to set the tone, cleaning up everything the average defensive line doesn't get to. Fast, athletic, and smart, he knows exactly what he's doing and should be in the mix for MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors with yet another 100-tackle season.
Woods gets all the credit and all the attention, but 6-0, 226-pound junior Paul Swan proved that he can play a little, too, making 63 tackles with a sack. A strong recruit in the 2008 class, he started out as a decent backup before growing into his own and showing he could hold up against the better running teams. A high school track star who made 261 tackles in his final two years, he has the athleticism and hitting ability to be a statistical star.
6-1, 220-pound sophomore Gabe Martin will serve as the understudy behind Woods in the middle, but he should see plenty of time in the linebacking corps after making 25 tackles with a sack in his first year. A good hitter, he filled out his frame a bit and should be able to hold up better. Next year he'll be the team's leading tackler, while 5-11, 238-pound sophomore D.J. Lynch will play behind Swan after making 43 tackles with three sacks and five tackles for loss as a key backup. If the defense goes to a pure 4-3, he'll be on the field.
Watch Out For … more from Swan. He started to show off what he could do last year in his first season in a full-time role next to Woods. With great talent and excellent potential, he's a tackler who should be turned loose a bit more into the backfield.
Strength: Woods. He's exactly what the experienced defense needs. The consummate leader and playmaker, he's going to finish his career with over 350 tackles and is the glue for the rest of the defensive front.
Weakness: Holding up against the run. This is a tough group that's great in space and excellent at chasing things down, but they're not the most physical of linebackers when it comes to taking on runners at the point of attack. They'll all make the stop, but it'll probably come down the field.
Outlook: With great athleticism and enough experience to know what they're doing, the linebackers should be the defense's biggest strength. Woods is a special defender and Swan is getting there. The depth is strong enough to step in when needed to keep the starting twosome fresh.
Unit Rating: 5.5
All five starters are back from a good secondary with the key being the play of the part-safety, part linebacker rover position. After some shuffling, 5-11, 186-pound sophomore Brian Sutton will take over even though he's not one of the returning starters. Athletic and tough, he hits like he needs to for the position and should grow into the role after making eight tackles with a broken up pass in his first year in the secondary. He'll be backed up by redshirt freshman Dernard Turner, a quick, athletic option who's more physical than his 5-11, 177-pound size.
Moving over from rover to one of the safety jobs is veteran Jerry "Boo Boo" Gates, a 5-10, 209-pound junior who finished second on the team with 73 tackles with a sack and two interceptions. Ultra-quick, he's great at getting all over the field to make big things happen, but his style is better with more room to roam rather than closer to the line as a third linebacker.
5-9, 204-pound sophomore Ryland Ward took over a safety job early on and made it his with 69 tackles with a pick and three broken up passes. While he's short, he's tough and thick with great hitting ability. He could move to rover if needed and handle himself just fine, but he great into the team's strong safety role and should own it for the next few years.
Back at corner is sophomore DeVon McCoy, who came up big in his first season making 34 tackles with four broken up passes. The 5-10, 189-pounder has good athleticism and great upside, and now he has to start making more big plays and come up with a few picks. Back on the other side is junior Cameron Truss, a 5-10, 189-pound veteran who's smart, tough, and experienced making 52 tackles with a pick and eight broken up passes. He's the team's top cover-corner, but McCoy is quickly growing into a smothering playmaker.
Junior Aaron Foster spent last year starting ten games at safety finishing third on the team with 69 tackles, but he didn't come up with a pick and broke up three passes. At 5-10 and 202 pounds he has decent size, nice range, and the versatility to play any safety position. Also in the safety mix will be sophomore Jude Adjei-Barimah, who made 14 tackles in a limited role. He can start in any spot if needed.
5-8, 176-pound sophomore Darrell Hunter will be a key backup at corner after making 32 tackles with a pick and five broken up passes, starting seven times last year and ready to step in when needed on either side. He's not big, but he can move and he's feisty for his size. Also on the smallish side is 5-7, 168-pound redshirt freshman Johnny Joseph, who isn't big but he can move. He'll start out behind McKoy.
Watch Out For … Sutton. He's one of the biggest keys to the defense with potential to lock down the rover spot and allow Gates to play in a more natural spot. If he's great, the rest of the secondary will be loaded with depth and options.
Strength: Experience. Five starters are back with versatile veterans who can move around where needed. This was an experienced group last year, and now it really knows what it's doing. After a productive season, the secondary should be among the best in the MAC.
Weakness: Interceptions. There weren't enough big plays with a mere five picks coming from the secondary. The pass rush improved and there were five defensive backs almost always in the mix, but it didn't translate into enough game-changing plays.
Outlook: The Falcons improved by leaps and bounds finishing 38th in the nation in pass efficiency defense while giving up just 203 yards per game. However, the teams that could throw didn't have too many problems and the stats were a bit skewed. Even so, this is a good, veteran corps that should be consistent and productive. However, it needs to come up with more picks to be the best in the MAC.
Unit Rating: 5
The placekicking was a concern, and then senior Stephen Stein took over and came up with a solid season nailing 8-of-11 attempt. He doesn't have any range topping out at just 39 yards, but considering the Falcons didn't get anything from the kickers in 2010, he turned into a godsend.
Junior Brian Schmiedebusch came from out of nowhere and became one of the nation's best punters averaging 45.3 yards per kick finishing sixth in the nation. While he put eight kicks into the end zone, he also put 18 inside the 20 and forced 11 fair catches. Big and with a cannon for a leg, the first-team All-MAC star blasted an 81-yarder against Idaho and now should be in the mix for the Ray Guy Award.
The punt return team needs a lot more pop after averaging 5.8 yards per try. Speedy redshirt freshman Travis Green will try to take over for Eugene Cooper, while defensive back Jerry "BooBoo" Gates will once again be the main man on kickoff returns after averaging a terrific 25.8 yards per pop.
Watch Out For … Green. Cooper didn't get the job done on punt returns and Green should be able to break off a few more big plays. It's not hard to improve about a six-yard average.
Strength: Schiedebusch. The Falcons have a tremendous weapon who can bail the team out of jam after jam with a huge leg. He's a threat to blast away a 70-yarder at any time.
Weakness: Kicking range. Stein did a nice job and he'll be fine from inside the 40, but it would be nice if he could extend his range to beyond 40 yards. He'll have to hit a few big ones early to show he can.
Outlook: Disastrous at times under head coach Dave Clawson, the special teams took a big step forward last year and now should be solid thanks to Schmiedebusch and a more experienced Stein. At the very least the special teams won't be a liability in any way, and they could turn out to be fantastic.
Unit Rating: 6.5
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