2013 Texas State Preview - Defense

Posted May 31, 2013

CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Texas State Bobcats Defense

Texas State Bobcats

Preview 2013 - Defense

- 2013 Texas State Preview | 2013 Texas State Offense
- 2013 Texas State Defense | 2013 Texas State Depth Chart
What You Need To Know: The defense had a rough go under coordinator Craig Naivar, failing to generate any sort of a pass rush until the season finale and having a nightmare of a time getting off the field. The secondary was burned time and again, and the run defense failed to hold up against anyone who could generate a push. Fortunately, seven starters are back in the 4-2-5 alignment along with two phenomenal pickups in former TCU defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey and former Colorado State linebacker Michael Orakpo. A slew of JUCO transfers need to help out at safety, while the pass rush has to be manufactured from several spots.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Xavier Daniels, 66
Sacks: Blake McColloch, 2
Interceptions: Craig Mager, 4

Star of the defense: Senior DT D.J. Yendrey
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior DE Jamie Clavell-Head
Unsung star on the rise: Junior S Chad Moncure
Best pro prospect: Junior LB Mike Orakpo
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Yendrey, 2) Orakpo, 3) CB Xavier Daniels
Strength of the defense: Experience, Linebacker
Weakness of the defense: Pass Defense, Pass Rush

Defensive Line

The pass rush was fantastic two years ago and went bye-bye last season when end Joplo Bartu, the team's leading tackler and pass rusher, wasn't producing. 6-2, 250-pound senior Jordan Norfleet has been a regular starter for the last two seasons but he hasn't done much to get into the backfield making just three tackles for loss with no sacks and 24 tackles. He's quick and he packed on a few pounds, but he has to be stronger off the ball.

Trying to replace Bartu on the other side is senior Jamie Clavell-Head, a 6-3, 280-pound senior who started out his career as a defensive tackle but spent last year on the end in place of Bartu, who moved over to linebacker. Clavell-Head finished with 23 tackles and a surprising two picks, but he didn't do much to get to the quarterback. He's better against the run. Former JUCO transfer Michael O'Diari started out his career at West Texas A&M, and while he's not an elite pass rusher, he's quick. The 6-0, 240-pounder could grow into a specialist.

TXST has a veteran duo on the inside with 6-5, 290-pound senior Blake McColloch and 6-1, 275-pound senior Kamu Taulelei on the nose. McColloch put on 40 pounds and now is built better for the interior after making 32 tackles with two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. Able to hold up well, he might not be a true anchor, but he's good at swallowing things up inside. Taulelei was one of the team's top defensive recruits a few years ago, and he turned into a starter for most of last year at tackle making 28 tackles. He's supposed to be an interior pass rusher, but it hasn't happened yet.

With Tauleilei likely working as a backup on the nose behind McColloch, 6-3, 260-pound senior D.J. Yendrey will hold down a position after transferring over from TCU. An excellent performer for the Horned Frogs, he earned all-star honors in his first two seasons as a strong, tough force on the inside, but he was suspended from the team after off-the-field issues. The former tight end is very athletic and very fast – he was a sprinter on his high school track team. He'll be backed up by Darius Hood, a 6-0, 285-pound bowling ball who's built to hold up against the run. He made 12 tackles, but he's quick enough to start making plays in the backfield.

Watch Out For … JUCO transfer Marcus Dallas, a 6-5, 255-pounder out of Reedley CC in California where he was a decent-tackling end making 47 tackles for 6.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Extremely athletic, he could step in right away and become a specialist.
Strength: Tackle. McColloch and Tauleilei are a good pair returning to the interior, but the addition of Yendrey takes things to a whole other level. All of a sudden, the Bobcats have a good nucleus to hold up against the run.
Weakness: Pass rush. Bartu came up with 5.5 sacks. The rest of the defense registered 6.5, and on the year TXST had just six sacks before cranking up six in the season finale against New Mexico State. Norfleet and Clavell-Head failed to generate a sack all of last year, and now they have to start showing they can produce.
Outlook: The run defense had a rough time allowing close to 2,800 yards and 25 touchdowns. Everyone who could run the ball, did. The bigger problem was a pass rush that was non-existent for most of the season. Yendrey will help, but overall the line has to be stronger.
Unit Rating: 4.5


The linebacking corps has to find playmakers after the loss of Joplu Bartu, who started the second half of last year on the strong side. In his place is Michael Orakpo, the one-time star linebacker for Colorado State earning all-star honors with 87 tackles in 2011 before getting booted from the team after an ugly off-the-field incident. At 6-1 and 235 pounds the junior has great size for the strongside with terrific range and hitting ability. It originally looked like he was going to Baylor, but he'll now be one of TXST's top players. Behind him is a decent option in Damion McMiller, a 6-3, 230-pound pure tackler out of California who came up with 36 stops with two tackles for loss and a team-leading four quarterback hurries. A spot-starter in the middle the senior can play either linebacker spot.

Back in the middle is junior David Mayo, a good recruit from California with tremendous quickness and range making 41 tackles before getting knocked out for the season after just seven games. At 6-2 and 230 pounds he has good bulk and toughness in the interior, but he has to prove he can hold up. 6-0, 220-pound sophomore Jerrid Jeter-Gilmon is like a big safety on the inside, but he can hit making 36 tackles on the year with a pick and two tackles for loss. Ideally he'd be a weakside linebacker, but the Bobcats don't use much 4-3.

Watch Out For … Orakpo. It's been a long and ugly journey to get to San Marcos, but Orakpo is getting a final chance to resurrect his career. The off-the-field problems will always be a part of his story, but on the field he's a terror of a run stopper and should be one of the team's statistical stars.
Strength: The rotation. Because TXST only uses two linebackers on a regular basis, it has no problems with the rotation for the two spots. It wouldn't be a problem going to a 4-3, but the depth would quickly be spread thin.
Weakness: Toughness against the run. It's going to take a while before some of the younger players are ready to be a part of the rotation, but overall the idea is to hold up better against the stronger running teams with good size at linebacker. It didn't happen last season.
Outlook: The loss of Joplo Bartu and Brian Lilly would've been a big problem if it wasn't for Orakpo. His emergence should give TXST the toughness it needs, and now, all of a sudden, this might be the strength of the defense.
Unit Rating: 5

Defensive Backs

The secondary struggled against the high-octane passing teams, but it had its moments. Now the five-man defensive backfield has to be steadier, and it has to start on the corners where 5-11, 191-pound junior Craig Mager is back on the boundary side after coming up with 48 tackles and tying for the team lead with four picks with eight broken up passes. He cuts on a dime and is a nice hitter in the open field, and he has to use his physical style to bully more receivers. He'll be backed up by senior Phillip Benning, a 6-0, 175-pound spot starter and nickel back who can play anywhere in the secondary. Fast, he has excellent straight-line speed and can pop with 32 tackles and three broken up passes.

Returning on the field side is Xavier Daniels, a 6-0, 170-pound senior who was the team's leading tackler two years ago making 77 stops with three picks and five broken up passes working as a free safety, and followed it up with 66 stops with five broken up plays. A great tackler who's excellent at getting all over the field, he has the speed and range, but he has to be better locking down on the quicker targets.

At the team's fifth safety spot is 5-11, 200-pound senior Justin Iwuji, who spent time last season working as the weak safety but moved around where needed making 46 tackles with a pick and three tackles for loss. Versatile, he can play at any of the three safety positions and should be one of the team's leading tacklers. He'll be backed up by Brandon Jones, a 6-2, 210-pound JUCO transfer from Santa Rosa JC with great size and versatility.

6-3, 193-pound senior Aaron Mathews, who sat out last season after seeing time in 2011 making 60 tackles with two picks. Very big and very athletic with great range, he'll shine at free safety now that he's back in the mix and ready to make a huge impact again. Also ready to be back in the mix as one of the team's better all-around playmakers is 6-0, 200-pound junior Chad Moncure, a great special teamer and spot-starter who came up with 23 tackles with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. The transfer from UTEP has a nose for the ball and should shine with a bigger role.

Watch Out For … the JUCO transfers. Along with Jones, Donta Clanton, Trey Garrett and Demetrius Woodard are all coming in from the JUCO ranks to provide immediate depth, at worst. The 5-10, 195-pound Clanton comes in from California and could play corner if needed. The 6-0, 200-pound Garrett is the best of the new lot with big hitting ability and blazing speed – he'll push for a starting safety spot. At 6-2 and 200 pounds, Woodard is another very big, tough tackler with a world of upside.
Strength: Size. This is a very, very big secondary. Almost all the key parts of the puzzle are 6-0 or bigger, and most of the new guys are large and built to pop. There shouldn't be any problems for this group being physical.
Weakness: The pass rush. In a trickle-down effect, there wasn't any pass rush, and the secondary got ripped apart because of it allowing 200 yards or more in ten of the 12 games. Everyone who could throw – other than Houston – had no problems.
Outlook: Out of all the areas the team struggled in the move up to the next level, no place struggled more than the secondary. The stats would've been far, far worse if the Bobcats didn't face New Mexico and Navy, who combined to throw the ball 11 times. The five defensive back secondary has to make far more plays on the ball and have to come up with a stop at some point. There's experience and size, but there's also lots and lots of work to do.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Special Teams

Junior Will Johnson struggled in his first year hitting just 13-of-24 field goals in his true freshman season, but he came back to connect on 12-of-17 shots last year nailing a 54-yarder against New Mexico State. Two of his misses came from 52 and 56 yards out, but he has the leg to hit them. He'll also combine with sophomore Zach Robinson to handle the punting duties after a huge year. Robinson was fantastic averaging 46.2 yards per try putting 13 inside the 20, while Johnson averaged 41 yards per attempt with nine put inside the 20. Neither of them put the ball into the end zone.

Receiver Andy Erickson was special on punt returns averaging 16.7 yards per try while Craig Mager's 79-yarder for a score helped the Bobcats finish second in the nation. Jafus Gaines is back after a whopper of a year returning kicks averaging 29.9 yards per try.

Watch Out For … the punter rotation. TXST came up with a huge year with the punters no matter who was kicking, and now the coaching staff will once again go with the hot leg.
Strength: Punt returns. The kickoff returns will be fantastic again and the kicking will come around, but Erickson is special on punt returns.
Weakness: Kickoff coverage. It's not that big a problem allowing 21.6 yards per try, but the Bobcats didn't get gouged too often. The punt coverage team could stand to be a wee bit tighter allowing 8.8 yards per try with a score.
Outlook: Fantastic. Erickson is one of the nation's top punt returners and Gaines is a dangerous kickoff returner who needs to be avoided. Johnson is a good all-around kicker, but he has to be more consistent on midrange field goals. Robinson came up with a whopper of a season and should be one of the Sun Belt's best punters.
Unit Rating: 9

- 2013 Texas State Preview | 2013 Texas State Offense
- 2013 Texas State Defense | 2013 Texas State Depth Chart