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2013 Eastern Michigan Preview – Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 10, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Eastern Michigan Eagle Defense


Eastern Michigan Eagles

Preview 2013 - Defense


- 2013 Eastern Michigan Preview | 2013 Eastern Michigan Offense
- 2013 Eastern Michigan Defense | 2013 Eastern Michigan Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: Just when it seemed like everything was going to be in place for a big year after finishing third in the MAC and 34th in the nation in total defense, everything went into the tank with no pass rush and a horrific year from the front line. The Eagles finished last in the nation against the run and was second-to-last in sacks, and now it’s time to try generating more pressure and come up with more big plays. The secondary should eventually be fine with several pieces to play around with, but it’s going to be a rough year unless Kalonji Kashama and the ends can hit a quarterback. Tackles Cy Maughmer and Travis Linser have to be far better, and while the entire starting linebacking corps has to be replaced, the new guys will be more athletic.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Donald Coleman, 88
Sacks: Kalonji Kashama, 3
Interceptions: Pudge Cotton, 2

Star of the defense: Senior S Donald Coleman
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore LB Hunter Matt
Unsung star on the rise: Junior S Pudge Cotton
Best pro prospect: Senior DE Kalonji Kashama
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Coleman, 2) Cotton, 3) CB Darius Scott
Strength of the defense: Secondary Options, Defensive Experience
Weakness of the defense: Stopping The Run, Pass Rush

Defensive Line

The defensive front has to start finding ways to get into the backfield on a regular basis with the rest of the gaps needing to be filled in around senior Kalonji Kashama, a 6-4, 270-pound veteran who was the only one who appeared able to get to the quarterback coming up with a team-leading three sacks with 30 tackles and two forced fumbles in just 11 games. Big for en end, he’d be ideal in a 3-4 scheme, but the Canadian is smart, strong, and good at working his way into the backfield. While he’s not quite good enough to carry a line, he should be one of the few linemen the team can rely on.

The nation’s worst run defense went through some growing pains, to be kind, and now it needs more from its junior tackles, 6-2, 278-pound Cy Maughmer on the nose and 6-4, 288-pound Travis Linser along side. Maughmer started every game and tried to hold up, making 31 tackles with two tackles for loss, but he had a hard time as an anchor while Linser made the starting job his making 21 tackles with a sack and 4.5 tackles for loss. Andy Malumba is back on the other side of Kashama, and now it’ll be up to sophomore Omar McFarlane and sophomore Pat O’Connor to try filling in at the rush end. O’Connor beefed up to get to 272 pounds coming off a 16-tackle season, while the 6-1, 250-pound McFarlane came up with just nine tackles, but came up with two forced fumbles.

Watch Out For … Sophomore Arron Pipkins, a squatty 6-1, 270-pound true sophomore who got his feet wet last season making ten tackles in seven games as a true freshman tackle. The Eagles need playmakers and some sort of an interior pass rush, and he could turn into a bit of a specialist.
Strength: Experience. Three starters are back to go along with decent depth to count on. Malumba made a ton of tackles and was one of the team leaders in tackles for loss, but he’s replaceable.
Weakness: Playing football. The run defense was non-existent and there wasn’t any semblance of a pass rush. The line generated just six sacks on the season.
Outlook: The line went from being a potential plus with lots of excitement to a complete and utter disasters. The sophomore tackles of last season have to become strong juniors, Kashama has to grow into more of a pass rusher, and some other playmakers have to emerge on the outside.
Unit Rating: 3.5

Linebackers

The linebacking corps that was supposed to be such a plus with three returning senior starters was a gigantic dud, but for good and bad, they’re all gone, including key backup Colin Weingrad. It’ll be up to two true sophomores to become instant factors on the outside with 6-1, 225-pound Hunter Matt needing to shine on the weakside and 6-1, 220-pound Ike Spearman taking over on the strongside. Spearman saw a little bit of time as a true freshman making three tackles in six games, but he has the size to hold up against the run, while Matt turned into a factor coming up with 28 tackles with a tackle for loss and two broken up passes.

Finding an answer in the middle will be the key to the defense, with true freshmen Nathan Adams and Lavonte Robinson each getting their chances, and 5-11, 224-pound senior Sean Kurtz trying to make a bigger impact at one of the three spots after working on the weakside making 17 tackles.

Watch Out For … the true freshmen. The 5-10, 225-pound Robinson is a tackling machine with good range, while the 6-2, 210-pound Adams is built more like a big safety, but he’s an all-around option and one of the best athletes in the linebacking corps.
Strength: Quickness. It’s a youth movement with little experience for all three spots, but everyone can move. The idea will be to get everyone into the backfield on a more regular basis.
Weakness: Experience. The linebackers didn’t do much of anything that mattered last seasons, but Blake Poole, Justin Cudworth and Bryan Pali were three of the team’s top four tacklers.
Outlook: With the lack of production across the board, the wholesale change isn’t going to be that big a deal. However, it might take a while for the new starters to be ready to roll – the defense can’t afford that. The line isn’t good enough for the linebacking corps to be mediocre, and this group will have to make up for several mistakes by flying around and using the athleticism to become more disruptive.
Unit Rating: 3.5

Defensive Backs

The secondary was the relative plus for the defense, mostly because everyone spent so much time running at will on the front seven. With all new starters at linebacker, there should be even more opportunities for senior free safety Donald Coleman, who started the first six games of last year before being replaced and working as a key part of the rotation and in nickel situations, finishing second on the team with 88 tackles with two tackles for loss. The 6-0, 205-pounder is terrific against the run, but he’s mediocre when the ball is in the air – he’s more like an extra linebacker than a safety.

Senior Mycal Swaim took over the starting free safety job but is more like a strong safety at 6-4 and 212 pounds. Like Coleman, he was more of a run stopper than a playmaker against the pass, making 20 tackles with a broken up pass in just eight games, but he has more range and should become a bigger factor. Needing to find a bigger role is Paris Cotton

On the outside, 5-8, 160-pound junior Darius Scott has to take a starting spot after rotating at left corner making 26 tackles with a pick and three broken up passes. He’s not big, but he’s extremely quick; now he has to be more consistent. 5-9, 177-pound sophomore Kirkland Bryant battled Scott all year for one of the starting spots, but he should take over a job all to himself after getting the call in the final two years on the left side making 24 tackles with four broken up passes.

Watch Out For … true freshman Jaleel Canty is one of the team’s top recruits coming in to become a shutdown corner. The 5-9, 191-pounder is a good ball hawk with a great burst to the ball. He’s not going to hit anyone, but he’ll eventually be the guy who gets the opposing No. 1.
Strength: Not allowing the big play. It’s not like the Eagles faced a bunch of bombers, but despite the lack of a steady pass rush the secondary did its job holding down teams from putting up huge numbers. The corners weren’t the problem.
Weakness: Consistency. The secondary never seemed to be able to find the right combination to shut down mediocre passing games cold. There was almost never the same lineup from one week to the next, and by the time the coaching staff settled on a starting four, the season was over. Coming up with a set lineup is a must from Day One.
Outlook: The secondary should be fine once the pieces fall into place. There are several young options ready to shine, but everyone needs help from the lousy front seven that doesn’t get to the quarterback. More interceptions would be nice, more third down stops is a must, and better overall play is the key for what should be the strength of the D.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Special Teams

The offense might not have had too much to rely on, but sophomore Dylan Mulder turned in a nice season hitting 10-of-11 field goals. While he only connected on 24-of-27 field goals, he was good enough and steady enough to be relied on to do more on deeper shots. The punting game was a major positive with Jay Karutz averaging close to 43 yards per kick, but he’s gone meaning senior Kody Fulkerson needs to show he can handle the work after getting in a few kicks as the backup placekicker. He’s not big and doesn’t have a cannon, but he’s a veteran who won’t be fazed by the promotion.

The return game has to be far stronger after receiver Demarius Reed averaged just 5.5 yards per punt return, but junior Tyler Allen did a nice job averaging 22.5 yards per kickoff return.

Watch Out For … Fulkerson. Used occasionally on PATs, he hit 4-of-5 shots and missed his only field goal attempt – it was blocked - but he should be able to shine as a punter, even if he’s not as good as Karutz.
Strength: Mulder. While he needs to prove himself in clutch situations, he showed a good leg nailing 3-of-3 field goals from 40-to-43 yards out. The coaching staff knows he can be used on a regular basis to bail out the offense.
Weakness: Kick coverage. The special teams had issues in a few areas, but the kickoff coverage team was the biggest issue allowing three scores and giving up 23 yards per try.
Outlook: The special teams have enough returning veterans to be fine. It’s not going to be a liability, and the field goal kicking could be a plus, but the coverage teams have to be better and the punting game is a question mark.
Unit Rating: 5.5

- 2013 Eastern Michigan Preview | 2013 Eastern Michigan Offense
- 2013 Eastern Michigan Defense | 2013 Eastern Michigan Depth Chart