2012 South Alabama Preview – Defense
South Alabama LB Enrique Williams
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - South Alabama Jaguar Defense
South Alabama Jaguars
Preview 2012 - Defense
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What You Need To Know: The defense was the real deal last season, keeping NC State from blowing up and doing a decent job against Kent State. However, despite allowing just 310 yards per game, there wasn't enough of a pass rush and the better running teams were able to blast away. The hybrid 3-4 scheme is full of veterans and talent with former Virginia Tech linebacker Jake Johnson certain to be among the best defenders in the Sun Belt, while former Alabama star recruit B.J. Scott will be a key part of a solid secondary. There has to be more of a pass rush coming from all three spots in the front three and from the hybrid Jack position. Several players will combine on the outside to get to the quarterback.
Star of the defense: Senior LB Jake Johnson
Tackles: Jake Johnson, 83
Sacks: Alex Page, 2.5
Interceptions: Gabe Loper, 2
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior NT Andy Dalglseish
Unsung star on the rise: Junior DE/LB Pat Moore
Best pro prospect: Johnson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Johnson, 2) S Charles Harris, 3) S B.J. Scott
Strength of the defense: Veterans, Linebacker
Weakness of the defense: Pass Rush, Takeaways
The line in the 3-4 needs production out of the main in the middle, and while 6-2, 265-pound junior Montavious Williams isn't huge, he has held up as the starter for the last 20 games and as a key piece of the puzzle as a true freshman. He's quick and active making 26 tackles with half a sack and five tackles for loss. He'll work in a rotation with Andy Dalgleish isn't huge at 6-2 and 275 pounds, he has the build to hold his own. Staying healthy is an issue after starting out last season banged up, but he still ended up making 25 tackles with four tackles for loss as a reserve.
6-1, 280-pound junior Randon Carnathan is part end and part tackle in the formation. He's going to be asked to be more of a pass rusher after failing to generate a sack despite starting in every game and finishing with 20 tackles with two tackles for loss. He'll be at his best as more of a true tackle who gets to stop the run, while 6-5, 260-pound junior Ceasare Johnson came over from the JUCO ranks and was supposed to play a big role right away. Instead he's supposed to step up this year and be a big stat-sheet filler with great quickness and pass rushing potential.
6-2, 275-pound junior Romelle Jones started the final five games of last season on the end finishing with 23 tackles, two sacks and a team-high seven tackles for loss. While he was expected to work on the nose or at tackle, he turned into a quick and athletic option at end. He's one of the team's most disruptive forces up front, while backup Alex Page returns after leading the team in sacks. He only came up with 2.5 sacks, but that was good enough to lead the way to go along with 29 tackles and four tackles for loss. At 6-1 and 235 pounds he's more like an outside linebacker than a pure end, but he should be a speed rushing specialist.
Watch Out For … Page. While the Jaguars use the Jack position when they want to look like a 4-3, there's a chance Page sees more time as a true end after starting the first five games last season. He has the speed and ability to be the team's best pass rushing force.
Strength: Run defense. USA was able to hold Georgia State's pure rushing attack to 220 yards, but lost. It also gave up 229 yards and four touchdowns in the season finale against Cal Poly. Kent State ran for three touchdowns, too. In the other seven games the Jaguars allowed just four touchdown runs and no one came up with more than 200 yards.
Weakness: Pass rush. There's potential and athleticism up front, but this group didn't do enough to get to the quarterback. The 15 sacks from the defense weren't enough.
Outlook: There's experience and depth to hope for another good season against the run. More plays in the backfield would be nice, but the combination of Williams and Dalgleish on the nose and with Carnathan and Jones back should mean another good season against the run.
Unit Rating: 4.5
The run defense might have been terrific but there has to be more of a pass rush from the outside. 6-3, 235-pound junior Pat Moore will have to be the main man working in the Jack position as an end and outside linebacker. The former JUCO transfer was a tackling machine for Northeast Mississippi CC, but he wasn't a big-time pass rusher. He has the quickness to be a factor, but he now he has to step in and show it. 6-3, 225-pound senior Anthony Taylor started 17 games in two seasons on the end but he was a backup last season making 15 tackles with a sack and a pick. He's experienced and very, very quick, while 6-0, 220-pound junior Logan Bennett could be a specialist after making 23 tackles with half a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss as a reserve.
Back to lead the way in the middle is Jack Johnson after coming up with a team-best 83 tackles with two sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. Built to hold things down against the run at 6-1 and 230 pounds, he's an active veteran who started out his career at Virginia Tech where he made 55 tackles in 2009. He'll be the star of the defense, but junior Ben Giles will see plenty of time on the inside in both the middle and at the Sam. He's not huge at 6-0 and 220 pounds, but he can hit making 25 tackles in nine games of work. The ULM transfer will also see time as a special teamer.
Returning to a starting spot working on the weakside will be 6-0, 235-pound junior Enrique Williams after finishing third on the team making 62 tackles with 1.5 sacks, 4.5 tackles for loss, a pick and with two recovered fumbles. Getting the work as a true freshman, he has been a big part of the defense over the last three years and he should be a stat-sheet filler once again. 5-11, 230-pound sophomore Desmond LaVelle is a smallish, quick defender who got work as a true freshman making 24 tackles with two tackles for loss and a pick. A strong recruit two seasons ago, he'll be a starter at some point.
6-3, 220-pound junior Clifton Crews made 35 tackles with 1.5 sacks and five tackles for loss as a ten-game starter. Built like a safety and with the speed to do even more in the backfield, he's a great hitter with nice range. He'll work on the strongside but has the playmaking ability in pass coverage to be a weakside defender.
Watch Out For … Moore. The Jack position, in a perfect world, becomes the glamour spot of the defense. Moore will be turned loose into the backfield, but Taylor and Bennett will also be a part of the rotation. All three players will get to the quarterback.
Strength: Experience and options. Johnson and Williams will pack a 1-2 punch, while Crews is an excellent all-around playmaker who should put up big numbers. With a good line up front, the linebackers should come up with a good year.
Weakness: The quicker rushing teams. Against the mediocre ground games the linebackers weren't bad, but the teams that ran the spread well were able to rumble. There have to be more plays into the backfield.
Outlook: There are plenty of experienced areas on the team, but with the depth and talent at all four spots, the linebackers should be terrific and could be the stars. Johnson will be an All-Sun Belt performer, while Williams will be in the mix.
Unit Rating: 5
The secondary that came up with such a strong season should be fantastic at safety with both key starters returning. 6-1, 200-pound senior Charles Harris finished second on the team with 81 tackles with a pick and three forced fumbles at strong safety. The former JUCO star has excellent size and big hitting ability. A playmaker, he has the potential to be an all-star if he's as strong against the run as he was last season.
Also back is former Alabama defender B.J. Scott, who got a little bit of time for the Tide before getting hurt. A tremendous recruit, he started out his career as a receiver but moved over to the defensive side, and he's a pure free safety for USA making 48 tackles with four broken up passes. Finally healthy, with his speed and 5-11, 205-pound size he's about to show off what he can do.
5-7, 165-pound sophomore Qudarius Ford isn't big, but he's extremely quick at one corner. He got his feet wet as a true freshman making six tackles, but he didn't do anything against the pass. Now he'll get the call on the weakside, while 6-2, 185-pound senior Jonathan Cameron will add more size to the position. The former JUCO transfer started six times in 2010 making 21 tackles, but he didn't get on the field last season after being declared academically ineligible. He can play any position in the secondary.
Junior Darius Morrow is coming in from Hutchinson CC where he was a decent after his time at El Camino CC was cut short because of injury. Wanted by several BCS schools, he'll play on the boundary side for the Jaguars. At 5-10 and 170 pounds he's not all that big, but he can move.
6-2, 190-pound senior Gabe Loper started six games at corner and came up with a strong year making 34 tackles with two picks and three broken up passes. While he was a tall, productive corner, he's far better suited for one of the safety spots where he'll start at the strong spot behind Harris.
Watch Out For … Scott. A superstar recruit in a class of superstars for Alabama, now he's ready to roll with the ankle problem well in his past. On pure talent he might be the best defensive back in the Sun Belt now that he's healthy.
Strength: Safety. Scott could become a special player after showing glimpses of his potential. Harris might not be as talented, but he was more productive last year and should be one of the league's top-tackling safeties.
Weakness: Interceptions. The Jaguars only came up with eight as a team with the corners needing to do even more. There weren't a ton of top passing teams on the slate, but taking the ball away more will be a must.
Outlook: If the corners can come through and hold their own, the secondary should be solid. The Jaguars are deep and talented at safety and can move on the outside, but all the defensive backs have to come up with more big plays. Unlike last year, the tests will start to come.
Unit Rating: 5
It'll be up to junior Michael Chapuseaux to go from being a kickoff specialist to the main man in place of Jordan Means, who nailed 13-of-15 kicks with both of his misses coming from beyond 40 yards. Chapuseaux has a great leg and won't have any problems connecting from deep, but he has to show he can be consistent.
Sophomore Scott Garber averaged 41.7 yards per punt, but he only put ten inside the 20 and came up with six touchbacks. He has a decent leg, but he's not a blaster. Even so, he'll be doing his job if he can hang around 42 yards per kick.
The return game should be phenomenal. Receiver Jereme Jones is back after averaging 8.6 yards per punt return and 23.9 yards per kickoff return, but T.J. Glover is back after missing all of last year. He averaged over 30 yards per kickoff return and 13.7 yards per punt return.
Watch Out For … Glover. Jones was a special return man last season, but Glover is a better option with the talent to move aside one of the Sun Belt's more dangerous players. They'll both get work.
Strength: The return game. The punt returns weren't bad last year, but Glover makes the situation better. The kickoff returners should be among the best in the league and could average around 25 yards per try.
Weakness: Kicking. Chapuseaux will be able to bomb away, but can he be as consistent and as solid as Means was? That's asking for way too much.
Outlook: The coverage teams were okay last season but could be better. However, the punting will be good and the return game should be dynamite. USA will have a real advantage at times if Chapuseaux is strong and if Garber can do a bit more.
Unit Rating: 6.5
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