2013 South Alabama Preview – Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 12, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - South Alabama Jaguar Defense


South Alabama Jaguars

Preview 2013 - Defense


- 2013 South Alabama Preview | 2013 South Alabama Offense
- 2013 South Alabama Defense | 2013 South Alabama Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: After a great 2011, the hope was for the defense to surprise and be sneaky-good. Instead, the Jaguars had too many problems coming up with key stops and didn’t find much that worked outside of a decent pass rush. Defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer has enough talent to work with to expect more consistency. The line has edge rushers in hybrid Pat Moore and end Alex Page, and Enrique Williams should be one of the Sun Belt’s top tacklers, but everyone has to be more disruptive and the secondary has to be stronger. Tyrell Pearson is a good ball-hawking corner, but all the JUCO transfers signed on over the last few years have to be steadier. All 11 projected starters are seniors; everyone should know what they're doing.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Enrique Williams, 105
Sacks: Alex Page, 6
Interceptions: Tyrell Pearson, 4

Star of the defense: Senior DE Alex Page
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior NT Randon Carnathan
Unsung star on the rise: Senior DE/LB Pat Moore
Best pro prospect: Senior LB Enrique Williams
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Page, 2) Williams, 3) CB Tyrell Pearson
Strength of the defense: Seniors, Veterans
Weakness of the defense: Big Plays, Consistent Run Defense

Defensive Line

The pass rush turned into a positive early, but it disappeared a bit late. Senior Alex Page was the team’s best pass rusher finishing with six sacks with 11.5 tackles for loss and 64 stops. The 6-1, 245-pounder is built more like a tough inside linebacker, but he has a nice burst behind the line coming up with two sacks against NC State and four over the first five games. Decent against the run he put up ten tackles against both FAU and Middle Tennessee, and he’s active enough to be strong against the better ground games. Backup Will Thompson is a 6-1, 260-pound junior who stepped up when needed making 16 tackles with a sack working in the rotation. He could play at either end position.

6-3, 240-pound senior Pat Moore will work at the Jack position, a hybrid of outside linebacker and end coming in from Northeast Mississippi CC as a ready-made pass rusher. Very quick and very physical, he made 30 tackles with 4.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss being almost exactly what USA needed. While he’ll be blocked by the stronger tackles, he can get around the edge well.

Moving in on the nose is senior Randon Carnathan, a 6-1, 295-pound bowling ball who’s great at getting behind the line with five quarterback hurries to go along with 17 tackles. A pass rusher no matter where he lines up, he works his way into plays when he’s healthy, missing four games last season. 5-10, 270-pound junior Jesse Kelley is a small, compact nose tackle who can step in from time to time and hold his own, making 22 tackles with a sack and four tackles for loss.

Senior Romelle Jones is back at tackle, but he needs to do more making 18 tackles and to tackles for loss. At 6-2 and 275 pounds, he has decent size and has the quickness to do more, making seven tackles for loss two seasons ago. He can play anywhere on the line, while 6-4, 265-pound senior Byron Sneed will bring even more athleticism inside.

Watch Out For … all the JUCO transfers. And here comes the depth. They’re all around the same size, but they do different things with DeMarion Harper, Theo Rich and Jerome McClain likely to work at tackle and Akeem Lewis to see time on the end. They’re all around 6-3 and 270, and they can all move.
Strength: Stopping the run. The front four did a nice job for the most part against the run. Giving up 229 yards to Hawaii was inexcusable, and the 21 touchdowns allowed were a problem, but it was an active group that was terrific at getting behind the line making 85 tackles for loss.
Weakness: Consistent pass rush. Ten of the 24 sacks came in two early games and 20 of them came before the final four games. Not generating sacks over a two game span against North Texas and Middle Tennessee late in the year showed that things didn’t get better or improve.
Outlook: It’s a good-sized line that did could make a nice improvement overall with just enough size to get by and decent quickness from all four spots. Page is a pure pass rusher and Moore should be excellent in his final year, and now the backups have to come through in the rotation.
Unit Rating: 5

Linebackers

Gone is Jake Johnson from the middle after making a whopping 131 tackles with 15 tackles for loss, and now it’ll be up to second-leading tackler Enrique Williams to step into the position after making 105 tackles with six tackles for loss on the weakside. At 6-0 and 235 pounds he has the size and the hitting ability to come up with a big year on the inside, and he should be an even bigger stat-sheet filler with fantastic range and pop. If he goes back to the outside, junior Demond LaVelle should be able to fill in without a problem. At 5-11 and 240 pounds, the JUCO transfer was a strong recruit a few years ago – he could’ve gone to Michigan – and now he’s finally able to be a part of the USA defense.

6-3, 220-pound senior Clifton Crews turned into a nice all-around defender on the strongside making 49 tackles with two sacks and five tackles for loss, and while he’s not huge, he’s active and aggressive at getting to the ball. Backup Maleki Harris is a safety-sized 6-1, 200-pound junior who saw time throughout the year making 20 tackles with two recovered fumbles. He could move to the secondary and play in nickel situations if needed.

Senior Bryson James is a good-sized 6-2, 230-pound veteran who has had problems with his back over the years, but was able to stay on the field last year backing up Williams on the weakside making 35 tackles with a pick. A sure tackler, he’ll be fine with the bigger role and more responsibility.

Watch Out For … Jalen Wells, one of the team’s best recruits and a sure-thing to someday be the team’s leading pass rusher. At 6-5 and 230 pounds, he has the build of a defensive end, and could move there, but he’s an outside linebacker and brilliant playmaker behind the line.
Strength: Size. This is a surprisingly good-sized group, headlined by the 235-pound Williams. Getting physical shouldn’t be a problem considering the bulk among the reserves as well as the starters. Even Crews has decent size for an outside linebacker.
Weakness: Quick quarterbacks. There were problems time and again with the speedier, craftier quarterbacks, and while the linebackers made more than their share of plays, the also made way too many tackles down the field.
Outlook: This was supposed to be one of the team’s biggest strengths going into last season, and for the most part, it was. Losing Johnson’s leadership and production is a problem, but Williams will pick up the slack and James will do far more in his new job.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Defensive Backs

The secondary rarely came up with the big pick and was beaten up from time to time, but it gets back most of the key part including both starting corners. 5-8, 150-pound senior Tyrell Pearson is small, wiry and gets shoved a bit too often, but he’s a solid tackler making 40 stops on the year, and he came up bigger than his size against the pass with a team-leading four picks and 11 broken up passes. A great athlete, he makes up for his lack of bulk with quickness and leaping ability.

Back on the others side of Pearson is 5-10, 170-pound senior Darrius Morrow, a former JUCO transfer who saw time at Hutchinson CC and El Camino CC before finally settling in at USA. Wanted by several BCS schools, he showed why at times making 43 tackles with seven broken up passes. While he’s not all that big, he can move.

There’s some work to do at safety, but 6-1, 190-pound senior Charles Harris is back at free safety after missing all of last year hurt. The former JUCO star has excellent size and big hitting ability, coming up with 81 tackles with a pick and three forced fumbles at strong safety two years ago. If he’s out again, 6-0, 190-pound junior Terrell Brigham will step in again after finishing fourth on the team with 71 tackles with two picks and five broken up passes. Versatile enough to play either safety spot, he’s an excellent open field hitter with nice range.

6-1, 200-pound senior Charles Watson got time in the rotation at free safety making 31 tackles with a pick, but he’ll move over to strong safety where he can do more against the run. A natural corner, the former JUCO transfer can play anywhere in the secondary. Also playing a big role will be junior Qudarius Ford at the nickel. At 5-7 and 170 pounds he’s not all that huge, but he packs a wallop and is extremely quick when he sees time at corner. He ended up missing all of last year, but he should put up huge stats now that he’s able to roam free and make plays.

Watch Out For … the JUCO transfers. USA lives off of them, and three good ones are coming in. Brothers Steffon Fuller and Steven Fuller are each 6-4 and around 200 pound coming in from East Central CC in Mississippi. Steffon is the better of the two with better hitting ability and more athleticism, while Steven could be moved to receiver if he doesn’t step in at safety. Corner Montell Garner from Navarro JC in Texas is a big 6-1, 185-pound pass defender and a sure tackler in the open field.
Strength: Corner. With Pearson and Morrow, the Jaguars have a nice tandem to work around. These two have to keep the big plays to a minimum after getting beaten deep a bit too often, but they know what they’re doing.
Weakness: The decent passing teams. USA gave up 200 yards or more against everyone by Nicholls State, FIU, North Texas and Hawaii, and the 11 picks came in bunches getting three against Troy and two against Nicholls State and Hawaii. Basically, this group has to start making more plays.
Outlook: This was supposed to be a major strength last season, and it wasn’t. The corners did a decent job in their first seasons at the helm, and the safeties were okay, but the results were overwhelming. With the defensive front firing off into the backfield and lots of chances being taken, this group has to hold up better.
Unit Rating: 5

Special Teams

The Jaguars have to replace Michael Chapuseaux, who nailed 20-of-27 field goals and showed of a terrific leg connecting on shots from 50 and 53 yards. Redshirt freshman Aleem Sunanon doesn’t have the biggest leg, but he should be accurate, while kickoff specialist Logan Gunn could get the call on the bigger blasts.

Senior punter Scott Garber improved his accuracy, but he only averaged 39.6 yards per try. He worked well with the coverage team putting 15 inside the 20 and forcing 15 fair catches.

Star receiver Jereme Jones has to add more on kickoff returns after averaging just 18.3 yards per try, while T.J. Glover cranked out 23.8 yards per pop. Glover will handle the punt return duties after averaging 8.8 yards per try.

Watch Out For … true freshman Brandon McKee. Don’t count out the new guy in the placekicking race, and he could end up growing into the punter in 2014. Extremely accurate with a great leg, there’s a chance he could eventually become a dual-threat.
Strength: Punt coverage. The Jaguars did a nice job working with Garber to keep the big plays to a minimum. He only put two kicks in the end zone and he was great at hanging it up and letting the gunners make plays.
Weakness: Kickoff coverage. The return game could stand to be better, but the bigger issue was a kickoff coverage team that was ripped up for over 23 yards per try. There are enough kicking options to expect more blasts through the back of the end zone.
Outlook: There’s room for improvement overall, and the biggest plus, Chapuseaux, is gone. It’s going to be a fight for the kicking job, and the punting needs to be better, but the special teams won’t be a major liability.
Unit Rating: 5

- 2013 South Alabama Preview | 2013 South Alabama Offense
- 2013 South Alabama Defense | 2013 South Alabama Depth Chart