Fiu, Cirminiello, Mitchell on TV - Campus Insiders | Buy College Football Tickets

2013 ULM Preview – Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 19, 2013


CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - ULM Warhawk Defense


ULM Warhawks

Preview 2013 - Defense


- 2013 ULM Preview | 2013 ULM Offense
- 2013 ULM Defense | 2013 ULM Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: Experience isn’t going to be an issue for Troy Reffett’s defense, but will the production follow after allowing 418 yards and 29 points per game? The ULM 3-3-5 system was statistically solid against the run, but that’s mostly because everyone spent so much time bombing away. The secondary has to be far stronger, and while everyone can hit – including the corners – there have to be more big stops and there can’t be so many deep passes allowed. The front three has an excellent rotation that should be one of the team’s bigger strengths, while the linebacking corps has size and should hold up well against the run.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Cordero Smith, 71
Sacks: Gerrand Johnson, 4
Interceptions: Isaiah Newsome, 4

Star of the defense: Senior S Isaiah Newsome
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior LB Austin Moss
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore DT Gerrand Johnson
Best pro prospect: Newsome
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Newsome, 2) LB Cameron Blakes, 3) LB Ray Stovall
Strength of the defense: Experience, Tackling Defensive Backs
Weakness of the defense: Pass Defense, Pass Rush

Defensive Line

The defensive front three was excellent against the run, at least statistically, and now there should be a fantastic rotation starting in the middle where 6-2, 276-pound senior Kentarius Caldwell is bulked up and solid after missing most of last year hurt. Over 20 pounds heavier than he was two seasons ago, he should be able to hold up better, while 6-0, 283-pound sophomore Gerrand Johnson is back after filling in and starting most of last year making 51 tackles with a team-leading four sacks and six tackles for loss. With a great base and excellent quickness off the ball, he could be an ideal 4-3 tackle but will be a great part of the rotation on the nose.

6-3, 254-pound junior Darius Lively was a key backup throughout most of last season making nine tackles and 1.5 sacks with a pick, but now he’s getting a long, long look at a starting spot. Extremely quick off the ball, he might not be big or bulky, but he could be the pass rusher the line is looking for on the outside. He’ll work in combination of 6-1, 275-pound junior Malcolm Edmond, a starter for most of last year making 45 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. With his bulk, he’s sized right for the 3-3-5 but could work as a traditional 4-3 tackle without a problem.

Junior Joey Gautney started every game making 37 tackles with 1.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. Built more like a big linebacker at 6-1 and 255 pounds, he’s great at getting off the ball in a hurry and he has the potential to do more as a pass rusher. Strong against the run, he holds up well for his size, but he’d be better as a true 4-3 end. 6-3, 292-pound senior Emanuel Jefferies is built better for the scheme and should provide some nice strength and size for the interior after making nine tackles with 1.5 sacks in his spot starting role.

Watch Out For … David Elias, Jr.. ULM didn’t go heavily after defensive linemen in the recruiting class, but Elias might be among the team’s best new prospects. The 6-3, 263-pounder was a superstar on the track in the shot put, and he was dominant on the defensive front. He might be tried out at tackle, but he’ll be an end.
Strength: The rotation. The team would be stretched a bit thin in a 4-3 scheme, but there’s a fantastic rotation for all three spots in ULM’s design. Keeping everyone fresh shouldn’t be a problem.
Weakness: A steady pass rush. The D generated a push from just about everywhere, but the line didn’t quite do enough to hit quarterbacks on a regular basis. It’s the job of the linemen to hold up against the run, but getting into the backfield is a must.
Outlook: The line should be a plus. There twos are almost as good as the ones, giving the coaching staff plenty of options and lots of room to get creative. The size is good, the experience better, and if there’s a decent push from time to time, everything will work out well.
Unit Rating: 5.5

Linebackers

The linebacking corps needs to do a little work, but it has a good one to build around. Junior Ray Stovall started for most of last season getting the call in ten games making 63 stops with three sacks and a team-leading 13.5 tackles for loss. Built more like a big linebacker at 6-2 and 232 pounds, he occasionally works like a defensive end on the outside. If he was bigger, he would’ve been snapped up by one of the big Oklahoma schools as an end, but the Tulsa native should be even more of a disruptive force for the Warhawks. He’ll be backed up by 6-0, 216-pound sophomore Cody Robinson, a safety-like defender who moves well and should be used as a specialist after making 13 tackles as a reserve.

Taking over in the middle is 6-1, 241-pound senior Cameron Blakes, a superstar prep prospect who was out of the mix for most of last season getting hurt with a leg injury and being able to play in just three games. Fortunately, he got bigger and stronger over the time off, and now the former 218-pounder is build for the job. With his tremendous motor and hitting ability, he should be a statistical star now that he’s back and healthy. On the plus side, he got a medical redshirt. If he’s not right, veteran backup Hunter Kissinger can step in after making 20 tackles with two sacks, but the 6-2, 229-pound sophomore isn’t as big or as tough against the run.

6-2, 230-pound Austin Moss spent last season as a special teamer and part-time linebacker making five tackles with a sack. With good size, the senior and former JUCO transfer has the bulk and the hitting ability to put up big numbers on the outside. A natural tackler, he’ll shine with the bigger role, while 6-1, 221-pound sophomore Michael Johnson is an experienced backup who saw time in every game making 19 tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss. The speed should make him more of a pass rusher in the rotation.

Watch Out For … Sterling Doss, a 6-0, 223-pound freshman and the only linebacker recruit in the current class. A big hitter, he came up with 228 tackles in his last two seasons and showed nice quickness as a pass defender. Extremely strong, he should be fine inside or out.
Strength: Size. Stovall, Blakes and Moss all check in over 230 pounds and should do a nice job of holding up against the run. All three are pure tacklers.
Weakness: Size among the backups. The twos are quick, but they’re not bulky. There’s a huge size discrepancy between the starters and the reserves.
Outlook: If Blakes can be back to being Blakes, all of a sudden the defense could take on a different tone. Stovall is a good one and Moss should grow into a star with his starting role. The linebackers don’t have to do everything, but they’ll clean things up.
The secondary that had big problems in shootouts gets everyone back, but will that mean a big improvement? Senior Isaiah Newsome took over a starting safety job two years ago and hasn’t given it up, earning Second Team All-Sun Belt honors last season after coming up with 57 tackles with four picks and nine broken up passes. At 5-11 and 200 pounds he has good size and packs a pop. The former running back has excellent speed and nice range. He’ll be joined once again at safety by junior Cordero Smith, a 5-11, 193-pound run stopper who finished second on the team with 71 tackles. Smart and tough, he’s always around the ball, but he has to do more to come up with big plays on deep passes.

At the H position is sophomore Mitch Lane, who started out hot – highlighted by his nine-tackle game against Baylor - before getting hurt and missing a bulk of time before coming back for the bowl game to finish with 40 tackles with a pick. At 6-0 and 212 pounds he’s like an extra linebacker against the run, but he’s at his best at getting to receivers in the open field.

5-8, 160-pound senior Vincent Eddie isn’t big and has a problem with bigger receivers, but he can move. The cousin of NFL legend and former Heisman winner Tim Brown is a plucky, feisty tackler who came up with 68 stops. However, he only made one pick. He’ll once again be joined at corner by 5-10, 178-pound junior Rob’Donovan Lewis, a nice tackler who made 69 stops with two picks and ten broken up passes. While he had his share of problems, he’s big, quick and hangs well with the stronger targets. Now he has to come up with more picks.

Watch Out For … Grant Dotsy, a versatile defensive back who’s destined to start at corner someday. At 5-10 and 175 pounds, he’s not small and he can tackle. With good ball-hawking skills, he could see time right away in nickel or dime packages, but he’ll start out behind Eddie.
Strength: Experience and tackling corners. All five starters are back helped mostly by sure-tackling veterans on the outside. The corners might give up too many passes and big plays, but they can hit.
Weakness: The corners give up too many big plays. The pass defense didn’t improve as last season went on and gave up 200 yards or more against everyone but Auburn and Tulane. The D has to do a better job of getting off the field.
Outlook: The pass defense has to be better, and it should with all the returning experience. However, the second half of the season was a nightmare giving up 300 yards or more in five of the last seven games and 18 scores over the span.
Unit Rating: 5

Defensive Backs

The secondary that had big problems in shootouts gets everyone back, but will that mean a big improvement? Senior Isaiah Newsome took over a starting safety job two years ago and hasn’t given it up, earning Second Team All-Sun Belt honors last season after coming up with 57 tackles with four picks and nine broken up passes. At 5-11 and 200 pounds he has good size and packs a pop. The former running back has excellent speed and nice range. He’ll be joined once again at safety by junior Cordero Smith, a 5-11, 193-pound run stopper who finished second on the team with 71 tackles. Smart and tough, he’s always around the ball, but he has to do more to come up with big plays on deep passes.

At the H position is sophomore Mitch Lane, who started out hot – highlighted by his nine-tackle game against Baylor - before getting hurt and missing a bulk of time before coming back for the bowl game to finish with 40 tackles with a pick. At 6-0 and 212 pounds he’s like an extra linebacker against the run, but he’s at his best at getting to receivers in the open field.

5-8, 160-pound senior Vincent Eddie isn’t big and has a problem with bigger receivers, but he can move. The cousin of NFL legend and former Heisman winner Tim Brown is a plucky, feisty tackler who came up with 68 stops. However, he only made one pick. He’ll once again be joined at corner by 5-10, 178-pound junior Rob’Donovan Lewis, a nice tackler who made 69 stops with two picks and ten broken up passes. While he had his share of problems, he’s big, quick and hangs well with the stronger targets. Now he has to come up with more picks.

Watch Out For … Grant Dotsy, a versatile defensive back who’s destined to start at corner someday. At 5-10 and 175 pounds, he’s not small and he can tackle. With good ball-hawking skills, he could see time right away in nickel or dime packages, but he’ll start out behind Eddie.
Strength: Experience and tackling corners. All five starters are back helped mostly by sure-tackling veterans on the outside. The corners might give up too many passes and big plays, but they can hit.
Weakness: The corners give up too many big plays. The pass defense didn’t improve as last season went on and gave up 200 yards or more against everyone but Auburn and Tulane. The D has to do a better job of getting off the field.
Outlook: The pass defense has to be better, and it should with all the returning experience. However, the second half of the season was a nightmare giving up 300 yards or more in five of the last seven games and 18 scores over the span.
Unit Rating: 5

Special Teams

Junior Justin Manton had a better season than it might have seemed with three of his four missed field goals coming from blocks – they weren’t all his fault. He has a decent leg from beyond 40 yards, but he has to get the deep shots up quicker. He needs more blast as a punter, averaging just 39.8 yards per try, but he put 19 inside the 20 and only allowed 6.7 yards per return.

Cortney Davis is back as the main kickoff returner after averaging a decent 22 yards per try. He only broke off a few big ones, but he was serviceable. Rashon Ceaser will take over for Brent Leonard as the main punt returner. Leonard average 8.2 yards per shot, but he was hardly irreplaceable.

Watch Out For … Ceaser. He didn’t go anywhere on his only return – getting knocked back for -2 yards – but he has the first-step quickness to become a dangerous punt returner who adds more pop.
Strength: Experience. Manton should be better after a decent year of doing a little of everything, while Davis is a proven kickoff returner who’ll come up with positive yards.
Weakness: Big punts. Manton didn’t blast away by design, working well with the coverage team, but he averaged under 40 yards per pop. He needs to get the average up and push teams deeper.
Outlook: The special teams won’t be amazing, but they’ll be solid enough to get by. Manton will be good, but he needs more time to operate. The return game needs more sizzle, but the coverage teams should fine.
Unit Rating: 6

- 2013 ULM Preview | 2013 ULM Offense
- 2013 ULM Defense | 2013 ULM Depth Chart