2013 Miami Univ. Preview – Defense
llegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - Miami University RedHawk Defense
Preview 2013 - Defense
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What You Need To Know:
There's lots and lots of work to do. Defensive coordinator Jay Peterson has to come up with a pass rush, stronger play against the run, and more playmakers who can take the ball away. This was the second-worst run defense in the nation that came up with just two fumble recoveries and was ripped apart for close to 2,900 rushing yards and 35 scores. There's experience returning among the starters with the not-that-bad secondary the deepest area on the team, but it needs help from a pass rush that was non-existent for large stretches. The front four is full of linebacker-sized defenders and could use bulk against the run, meaning the linebacking corps has to do way too much.
Star of the defense: Senior CB Dayonne Nunley
Tackles: Chris Wade, 128
Sacks: Mwanza Wamulumba, Wes Williams, 2.5
Interceptions: Brison Burris, Dayonne Nunley, 2
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore DE Wesley Scott
Unsung star on the rise: Junior S Jarrell Jones
Best pro prospect: Nunley
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Nunley, 2) LB Chris Wade, 3) SS Brison Burris
Strength of the defense: Experienced Starters, Secondary
Weakness of the defense: Run Defense, Line Size
The defensive front has to find a way to get into the backfield from the outside, but 6-3, 264-pound senior Mwanza Wamulumba should bring the pressure from the interior after making 2.5 sacks, five tackles for loss and 39 stops. He might not exactly be a pass rushing terror, but he's the team's best player at getting into the backfield. Next to him is the undersized Wesley Scott, a 6-3, 245-pound sophomore who got four starts and finished with 23 tackles. A good, feisty defender, he's quick off the ball and should do more to get to the quarterback. 6-5, 255-pound sophomore Mitch Winters made three tackles last season as a true freshman and will rotate in at both spots, while 6-1, 278-pound sophomore David DeLeon will add more size coming off an 11 tackle season.
Finding the right mix on the outside will be a bigger challenge with Luke Kelly and Jason Semmes gone. 6-5, 213-pound sophomore Bryson Albright got his feet wet as a true freshman making 19 tackles with a sack, but he has the upside and ability to do far more with good quickness off the ball and enough athleticism to grow into a pass rusher. 6-2, 228-pound sophomore Tim Johnson didn't do much of anything last season behind Semmes, but he's a good athlete with nice upside once he gets a bigger role. Ready to do more is sophomore Jimmy Rousher, a very smart pass rusher who dominated as a special teamer. At the very least he'll be a big part of the rotation.
Watch Out For … Wes Williams. Where will he play? The former defensive end was moved to middle linebacker where he was a big force against the run, but he could be moved back to the left end to add more experience on the line.
Strength: Quickness. This is a smallish, athletic line with linebacker-sized defenders with good lateral movement. This group should be able to get around in a hurry, however …
Weakness: Making plays. There's no size and no pass rush, failing to use the quickness and athleticism to get into the backfield. The line got hammered against anyone who tried to run the ball, and there could be even more problems this year.
Outlook: There should be a decent rotation and the coaching staff will get creative, but after allowing 241 rushing yards per game and generating a pathetic 15 tackles, will there be any production? The lack of size is galling, but the dearth of playmakers is the bigger problem.
Unit Rating: 4
The MU run defense might have been a disaster, but senior Chris Wade did his part with a team-leading 128 tackles with eight tackles for loss. The 6-1, 226-pounder on the strongside isn't all that big, but he's extremely tough with tremendous strength and playmaking ability. He's like a guided missile to the ball and a sure-thing tackler making 14 stops against Akron and 13 against Buffalo. He'll do even more behind a leaky line.
Where will Wes Williams play? The defensive end was needed late last season in the middle, where he did a decent job finishing the year with 65 tackles with 2.5 sacks and six tackles for loss. At 6-3, and 244 pounds he brings some desperately needed size to the defensive front seven and is desperate needed in several spots.
If Williams moves back to the line, it'll likely be up to 6-1, 224-pound sophomore Kent Kern or 6-0, 201-pound Josh Dooley to slide over. Dooley came up with 29 tackles last season as a backup on the weakside, and while he's built for the position, he could work in several spots. Kern stepped up as a true freshman making 39 tackles with five tackles for loss in his time on the strongside, but with tremendous strength and toughness he could easily find a home for the middle. Senior Colin Boucher has been a career backup, but he's a veteran who has seen plenty of time over the last two seasons. He's not big at 6-2 and 221 pounds, and he only made 13 tackles, but he can play anywhere in the linebacking corps.
Watch Out For … Jake Giordano. Can he solve the problem? In a perfect world, the 6-0, 220-pound true freshman could be the answer in the middle and Williams could move back to the defensive line. A good tackler and smart playmaker, the Florida native has all the skills to quickly become one of the team's top tacklers.
Strength: Tacklers. There might be too many plays made down the field, but the MU linebackers all have range and they can all hit. They're going to be the ones to bail out the rest of the defense.
Weakness: Stopping the run. The linebackers can hit, but the plays usually come six yards past the line of scrimmage. This isn't a big group and it can be pushed around. There isn't enough playmaking ability behind the line.
Outlook: Call this a work in progress. It's going to take a little while to find the right combination, and it would be a godsend if the true freshmen could be productive right away. Wade and Dooley need to become bigger factors.
Unit Rating: 4.5
The secondary did what it could despite a lack of pass rush to help the cause, but it could turn into a plus with almost all of the key players returning. 5-10, 179-pound junior Brison Burris finished second on the team with 81 tackles with three picks and eight broken up passes. While he's undersized for the position, he'll stick his nose into any situation and isn't afraid to come up with the big stops. Better against the run than the pass, he plays much bigger than he is.
Also returning to a key role is corner Dayonne Nunley, a 5-8, 180-pound senior is trying to come back from missing the end of last season hurt. An all-star performer and lockdown defender, he did a nice job against the run making 63 stops to go along with three picks and 11 broken up passes. Extremely strong for his size, he a terrific all-around playmaker who can do a little of everything right.
Junior Christian Dupuy is one of the team's strongest players, he can handle himself well despite his 5-9, 175-pound size. A part-time starter with excellent skills, he came up with 17 tackles and two broken up passes, but now he could be used in place of D.J. Brown at one corner or as a whale of a nickel and dime defender.
Junior Jarrell Jones got a little bit of starting time at free safety but mostly worked in a rotation making 25 tackles with a broken up pass. A big hitter despite his 5-10, 174-pound size, he should fit the role without a problem. He and Burris will work in a rotation with 6-3, 191-pound senior Dante Taylor, a good-sized veteran who made six tackles last season as a part-time strong safety, and 6-4, 172-pound sophomore Marshall Taylor, who started part of the season at free safety as a true freshman making 40 tackles. He needs to be better when the ball is in the air, but he's smart and can hit.
Watch Out For … true freshman Airion Kosak, a kick returner and safety who's expected to be the top recruit in the latest class. The 5-11, 185-pounder is extremely quick with the potential to be used as a receiver as well as a special teamer and defender.
Strength: Experience. With Jones, Burris and Nunley, the RedHawks have a good group of veterans to start with, and unlike other areas on the defense there's good depth to work into the rotation.
Weakness: Good passing teams. There's a reason why the overall numbers weren't that bad; everyone was too busy running at will against the awful front seven. Boise State's Joe Southwick had no problems doing whatever he wanted, and Ohio and Akron were able to bomb away – however, MU won both of those games.
Outlook: This should easily be the defense's biggest strength with several interchangeable parts and lots of strong athletes who can hit, move and cover. The secondary gave up too many big plays and is hardly a rock, but if it gets a little help from the pass rush, it should be a plus.
Unit Rating: 5
Sophomore Kaleb Patterson came up with an excellent first season nailing 15-of-18 field goals including five of six from beyond 40 yards. He doesn't have huge range, topping out at around 45 yards, but he was solid over the second half of the season nailing 11 of his last 12 attempts. Senior Zac Murphy did a nice job averaging 40.5 yards per kick, but he only put 12 inside the 20. He has a good deep leg and can blast his way out of jams, but his directional abilities are merely average.
Corner Dayonne Nunley returns as the main punt returner, but he needs to do far more for a group that averaged a sad 3.2 yards per try on just six returns. The kick return game wasn't much better with Nunley and receiver Dawan Scott combining forces. Nunley was fine averaging 21.9 yards per try, but Scott averaged just 17.3 yards per attempt.
Watch Out For … Patterson. He missed a couple of chippies over the first half of the year, but he was outstanding over the second half of the season. Now he's going to start getting more work and more chances from deep.
Strength: Patterson. For a team that struggles too much on defense and has to fight to generate points, having a weapon like Patterson who can be a sure thing from 45 yards and in means everything.
Weakness: Punt returning. The RedHawks came up with just six punt returns on the season and did nothing with them. The kick return game finished 102nd in the nation, the punt returners finished 112th.
Outlook: The kicking game is good and the coverage teams are solid, but there needs to be more gamebreaking moments from the talented and athletic returners. Patterson and Murphy will give the RedHawks an advantage.
Unit Rating: 5.5
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