2013 Nevada Preview - Defense

Posted Jun 20, 2013

CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Nevada Wolf Pack Defense

Nevada Wolf Pack

Preview 2013 - Defense

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

What You Need To Know: Defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton has to try to improve a defense that finished 110th in the nation against the run and allowed 442 yards and 34 points per game. The defensive front needs to be the centerpiece to work around with all four starters returning and two dangerous ends in Brock Hekking and Lenny Jones the stars. However, the run defense has to be far stronger and the pass rush has to come from other spots. The back seven has to undergo a massive makeover, but it's a great-sized, athletic lot of prospects who look the part and have to play like it.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Brock Hekking, 75
Sacks: Brock Hekking, 8
Interceptions: Charles Garrett, Bryson Keeton, 1

Star of the defense: Junior DE Brock Hekking
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore LB Jordan Dobrich
Unsung star on the rise: Junior SS Charles Garrett
Best pro prospect: Hekking
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Hekking, 2) DE Lenny Jones, 3) Garrett
Strength of the defense: D Line Experience, Players Who Look The Part
Weakness of the defense: Run Defense, Back Seven Experience

Defensive Line

The defensive front had an awful time getting into the backfield or stopping the run, but don't blame Brock Hekking, the 6-4, 255-pound junior who bulked up last year and continued to keep his foot on the gas play after play finishing tied for third on the team with 75 tackles with eight sacks and ten tackles for loss. Extremely fast off the ball and with a motor that never quits, he turned into a terror. While teams figured him out as a pass rusher after he ripped off seven sacks in the first seven games, he was always active against the run highlighted by a two game stretch with ten tackles against Air Force and 12 against Fresno State.

Needing to benefit on the other side from all the attention paid to Hekking is sophomore Lenny Jones, a 6-3, 255-pound speed end who did his part as a specialist ripping off five sacks with 37 tackles. A flash off the ball, he came up with two sacks against Wyoming and showed he could handle the workload. However, he disappeared for stretches and seemed like he wore down late in the year. Former JUCO transfer Jake Peppard will be the main backup again after coming up with just four tackles in his limited time late last year. The former Cerritos College star hasn't been able to break out, but at 6-3 and 255 pounds he has the size.

The Wolf Pack must get stronger and tougher in the middle, and that means 6-3, 280-pound senior Jack Reynoso has to hold up at tackle. The former offensive lineman has seen enough time over the last two seasons on the defensive side to be more productive, and while he came up with 44 stops, he didn't do enough to get into the backfield. 6-2, 270-pound sophomore Rykeem Yates was able to come up with a sack and 16 tackles in his time as a reserve, but his real worth will be as a very, very strong anchor against the run. He has the power and he has the explosion off the ball, but he needs to put it all together.

Junior Jordan Hanson will serve as a true nose tackle, and while he's not massive at 6-2 and 280 pounds, he should be able to do it. Quick and with good lateral movement, he has the athleticism, but he has to be stronger against the run after making 40 stops with two tackles for loss.

Watch Out For … Dupree Roberts-Jordan, a JUCO transfer from Golden West College with terrific pass rushing skills for a 6-0, 270-pound tackle. While he's not built quite right and he doesn't look the part, he's always working and he finds ways to hit quarterbacks.
Strength: Experience. All four starters are back with Hekking and Jones a potential dominant force to the quarterback. The rest of Nevada might not get to the passer, but those two will.
Weakness: Production against the run. Too many teams were able to rip Nevada up at will on the ground, and while there's experience and size up front, this group allows way too many runs into the second level.
Outlook: What was a concern going into last season turned out to be a big, big problem for a defense that struggled to generate tackles for loss and didn't stop the run. Hekking and Jones can't be the only ones who get behind the line, and everyone has to do more against all types of ground games.
Unit Rating: 5.5


Leading tackler Albert Rosette is gone from the middle after making 135 tackles, and now it'll be up to 6-2, 235-pound sophomore Jordan Dobrich to take over the job. He's smart, quick and built to hold up on the inside, and he should be a statistical machine after getting his feet wet making nine tackles with a fumble recovery against Fresno State. Adding a bit more bulk inside is 6-1, 240-pound sophomore Reggie Coates, a nice-looking prospect who got on the field as a special teamer and saw a little time on defense making three tackles with a broken up pass.

Replacing Jeremiah Green on the strongside is 6-4, 210-pound sophomore Bryan Lane Jr., who spent last season as a part of the rotation making 17 stops. While he's fast, he's not all that big and needs to add some bulk to his frame to hold up against run. He'll get to the ball, but he has to deliver a wallop. 6-3, 225-pound sophomore Burton De Koning was the top recruit two years ago after getting feelers from LSU and Oregon, but he's still fighting for time and a starting job after making two stops in his first year.

Starting on the weakside is 6-1, 235-pound junior Jonathan McNeal, a former JUCO transfer from Santa Monica CC with great athleticism and outstanding range. He didn't get on the field last season, but he's built to be a big tackler. He'll be a huge hitter, while 6-2, 215-pound redshirt freshman Alex Bertrando, a speedster with track wheels, he could be a pass rushing specialist.

Watch Out For … Ian Seau, the nephew of the legendary Junior Seau, who's coming in from Grossmont College where he was a dominant pass rusher with great range and hitting ability able to play inside or out. While he'll be expected to be a part of the mix right away, true freshman Beau Hershberger will be one of the team's leading tacklers in the near future. If the 6-2, 230-pounder gets a little bigger, he could become a defensive end.
Strength: Athleticism. All three starters can move and the reserves have decent wheels, too. Swarming around the ball shouldn't be a problem, but holding up against the run should be a question mark.
Weakness: Experience. Rosette made 135 tackles, DeAndre Boughton came up with 75 stops and Jeremiah Green made 68 tackles. They came up with a ton of tackles, but the run defense still stunk.
Outlook: On the downside, there's a wholesale change being made. On the positive, last year's starters didn't exactly do anything. The call has gone out to be more aggressive and come up with bigger stops, but just keeping the second-level yards to a minimum will be enough.
Unit Rating: 5

Defensive Backs

The secondary wasn't too bad last season, but it needs to find some key replacements. Duke Williams turned in a huge year at strong safety, and now it'll be up to 5-11, 205-pound junior Charles Garrett to move over from corner to handle the job. With experience as a nickel and dime defender before coming up with 35 tackles with ten broken up passes and a pick, he has to prove he can hold up against the run.

With Garrett moving, junior Evan Favors will get the call at one corner after mostly serving as a special teamer. He saw time in the defensive backfield making eight tackles with a broken up pass, but now he needs to use his 6-0, 185-pound size and practice time logged in to be a shutdown defender. Taking over for Khalid Wooten on the other side is 6-1, 195-pound senior Markus Smith, a former JUCO transfer from Riverside CC who got on the field right away and came up with 16 tackles with a broken up pass. Tall for a corner, he not only has great size, but he's a mauler when he gets his hands on a receiver.

6-2, 190-pound sophomore Bryson Keeton will take over at free safety after making four tackles with a pick and two broken up passes in just six games of action. A nice athlete, he could be moved outside to corner if needed, but he'll have to show off great range against the pass and needs to be prepared to fight through inevitable mistakes.

Battling for playing time at one corner is 6-1, 205-pound redshirt freshman Randy Uzoma, an intriguing blend of size and speed with tremendous smart and leadership skills. He has an extremely bright future beyond anything on the football field. Also very fast and very big is 6-0, 200-pound redshirt freshman L.J. Jackson, a Nevada state champion high hurdler with phenomenal athleticism. He can be a dangerous nickel and dime back if he doesn't see time as a corner.

Watch Out For … Tere Calloway. Nevada is used to getting very big, very athletic defensive backs, but Calloway breaks the mold a bit as a 5-10, 176-pound safety. Part running back and part defensive back, the Seattle native can move and has great quickness, but he's not huge.
Strength: Size. This is a big, BIG secondary. Just about everyone is around 6-0 or taller and about 200 pounds or bigger. Nevada always seems to find large, fast defensive backs.
Weakness: Interceptions. Where were they? The defense came up with just six picks on the season and there are just two interceptions returning.
Outlook: This could be a dangerous area for a team that's been hit-or-miss in the defensive backfield over the years. There's a massive personnel turnover from a secondary that was fine against the run – because it had to be – and there weren't enough big plays when the ball was in the air. This might be the team's biggest concern.
Unit Rating: 5

Special Teams

Junior Colin Ditsworth only attempted three kicks last season and missed two of them, whiffing from 29 and 38 yards out. He'll have to replace Allen Hardison, who nailed 9-of-10 field goals, and he'll have to show some semblance of range and consistency.

The punting game wasn't bad with senior Chase Tenpenny blasting away for a 43.3-yard average putting 12 inside the 20. At 6-4 and 250 pounds he's a big, strong kicker with experience, but he needs to pin more punts deep.

The kickoff return game was solid with Kendall Brock averaging 23.4 yards per try, and now he has to rock as a punt returner in place of Khalid Wooten, who averaged a terrific 15.1 yards per try. Extremely quick and with home run hitting skills, he'll be dangerous whenever he gets the ball in his hands.

Watch Out For … the kicking game. It's going to be a big, big question mark with Ditsworth hardly a sure thing to take the job and with an open casting call for other options. Three games last year were decided by one point each – the placekicking will be a concern.
Strength: Brock. Nevada finished fourth in the nation in punt returns thanks to Wooten, and Brock should be able to continue to the trend. He'll be solid for the kickoff return game.
Weakness: The coverage teams. There are plenty of problems, but the coverage teams should be the biggest after giving up a whopping 23.1 yards per kickoff return and 12.1 yards per punt return.
Outlook: Uh oh. Brock will be fine and Tenpenny will be good enough to get by, but the placekicking is a huge X factor and the coverage teams have to be far stronger. Nevada could lose a game or three because of the special teams.
Unit Rating: 4.5

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