Miami University Preview 2006 - Defense
Posted Aug 7, 2006

Miami RedHawks Preview 2006 - Miami University Defense

What you need to know ... Only two starters return from last year's solid D with the biggest concern at linebacker where finding starters is a big enough problem without worrying about reserves. The secondary should be fine with great looking prospects like CB Frank Wiwo and SS Robbie Wilson ready to play more prominent roles, and getting to the quarterback won't be a problem for the line. With the problems at linebacker and the smallish tackles (other than 306-pound Otto Linwood), stopping the run will be the primary problem early on.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Joey Card, 67
Sacks: Craig Mester, 5.5
Interceptions: Frank Wiwo, 4

Star of the defense: Senior FS Joey Card
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore MLBs Joe Hudson and Brad Goatley
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore SS Robbie Wilson
Best pro prospect: Junior DT Otto Linwood
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Card, 2) DE Craig Mester, 3) Linwood
Strength of the defense: Pass rush
Weakness of the defense:

Defensive Line
Even with the return of only one starter and hurt by the loss of star end Marcus Johnson, getting to the quarterback won't be an issue with speed and athleticism on the outside and the potential for a fantastic rotation led by veteran Craig Mester and top pass rushers Joe Coniglio and Tranaine Sills. Run defense could be another story with only one tackle-sized tackle, Otto Linwood, and a bunch of quick, undersized, inexperienced players looking to find a spot in the middle.
The key to the unit: Find tackles who can play alongside Otto Linwood.

Defensive Line Rating: 5.5

Projected Starters
- DE Joe Coniglio, Soph. - 14 tackles, 4 sacks, 8 TFL, 3 recovered fumbles
The former linebacker didn't do much against the run last season even though he showed tremendous upside as a pass rusher with four sacks in a part-time role. He's only 233 pounds, but he's quick off the ball and should be a terror in the backfield.

- DT Otto Linwood, Jr. - 13 tackles, 3 sacks, 4.5 TFL
As the only 300-pounder on the line, 306 to be exact, Linwood has to be the main presence in the middle. He'll get the start on the left side where he'll be asked to be the anchor of the run defense. While he's not all that quick, he's not bad at getting into the backfield.

- DT Seth Painter, Sr. - 18 tackles, 2 TFL
At only 254 pounds, Painter is used for his quickness at right tackle. He's a former defensive end who was a key reserve last season, and now he'll rotate with Kevin Samy to stay fresh on the inside.

- DE Craig Mester, Jr. - 27 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL
Mester is the line's only returning starter and has to play a huge role this season. He's a good pass rusher with excellent speed and a good-sized 6-5, 243-pound frame to try to throw over.

Top Backups
- DE Tranaine Sills, Jr.
Injuries have been an issue for Sills, but his talent isn't a question as the team's best pure pass rusher. At 254 pounds, he's a bigger option than Joe Coniglio at left end.
- DE Travis Craven, RFr.
An interesting prospect, Craven is only 220 pounds, but he's 6-4 and a blur getting into the backfield. He knows how to get to the quarterback and was a strong scout teamer last season. Now he'll combine with Craig Mester on the right side.
- DT Ben Huddle, Soph. - 2 tackles
At 265 pounds, Huddle is one of the team's biggest tackles. He'll play behind Otto Linwood on the left side, but he might see time on the right to beef up the run defense.

If you want to play linebacker, Miami will give you a shot. The senior dominated corps of last year is gone meaning all the spots are up for grabs with walk-ons sure to play a key role. Dontae Wright will be a player on the outside, but the other outside spot and the middle are going to be major concerns up until the opener. Forget about depth, this group has to find starters.
The key to the unit: Quickly find out who can stop the run and quickly develop enough players for a decent rotation.
Linebacker Rating: 4.5

Projected Starters
- Dontae Wright, Sr. - 21 tackles, 1 TFL
A good reserve last year on the outside, the 6-3, 222-pound senior is expected to be one of the new stars of the D. He bulked up and doesn't look like a glorified safety, yet still has to be as athletic as he was before.

- Joe Hudson, Soph. - 12 tackles
Hudson can play any of the linebacking spots, but he appears destined to take over in the middle. He sat out last year when the linebacking corps was full, but now he'll be thrown into the starting role. He's not all that big and he's not all that fast, but he's a player.

- Clayton Mullins, Jr. - 4 tackles
Mullins was banged up last year and didn't do much, but now he'll be one of the key starters on the outside. He hit the weights over the last year going from a safety sized 206 pounds to 219.

Top Backups
- Brad Goatley, Soph. - 3 tackles
While Joel Hudson is listed as the starter in the middle, don't be shocked if Goatley quickly takes over. He looked like he'd be a strong contributor last season before getting knocked out with an injury, and now he counts as the most experienced backup at linebacker the RedHawks have.
- Chris Shula, Soph. - 1 tackle
Mostly a special teamer, the 5-11, 216-pounder will push for time on the outside behind Clayton Mullins.

Defensive backs
The secondary wasn't nearly as good as it should've been last year, and it won't fall off the map like it might be expected to this season. Tall Frank Wiwo will grow into an excellent cover-corner, while strong safety Robbie Wilson is a great looking prospect. The return of strong safety Joey Card at free safety will be a big help. Considering the secondary needs to replace three starters, the depth isn't all that bad, especially at corner.
The key to the unit: Get steady play from the corners and hope for Robbie Wilson and Sean Kavanaugh to come through at strong safety.
Secondary Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- CB Frank Wiwo, Sr. - 12 tackles, 2 TFL, 4 INT, 5 broken up passes
At 6-3, Wiwo is a great sized corner who has a nose for the ball leading the team in interceptions last year. He's only 179 pounds but he can pop. Even though he was a nickel back last year, he should shine in the role of full-time coverman and should ease the loss of Darrell Hunter.

- FS Joey Card, Sr. - 67 tackles, 1 sack, 4 TFL, 3 INT, 3 broken up passes
One of only two returning starters on defense. Card has to be a leader and top playmaker yet again. He finished second on the team in tackles last year and turned out to be fantastic in pass coverage. He's not all that huge at only 6-0 and 198 pounds, but he doesn't make mistakes. It's vital that he stays healthy.

- SS Robbie Wilson, Soph. - 9 tackles, 1 interception
Wilson has all the potential to be the team's best defensive back with good size at 209 pounds and some of the best wheels on the team. He's more than fast enough to be a top corner, but his future is at safety where he should be a mainstay for the next three years.

- CB Bryan Roland, Soph. - 10 tackles
Mostly a special teamer so far, Roland will try to hold down one of the starting corner jobs. Can he handle himself on defense? He came to Miami after being a star high school running back, and he ha to prove he can hold up for a full season.

Top Backups
- CB Jarrid Gaines, Jr.
Gaines has to be in the cornerback mix with his sub-4.4 speed. He redshirted last year and has a lot of traffic to contend with on the depth chart, but he should be a regular on one side battling with Bryan Roland.
- FS Tersee Nande, Jr.
The former wide receiver is still trying to find his way at defensive back. He's the biggest safety on the team at 6-2 and 210 pounds, and speed isn't an issue. He has to be a good backup behind Joey Card.
- SS Sean Kavanaugh, Soph. - 6 tackles, 1 broken up pass. 1 forced fumble
Kavanaugh saw enough time as a true freshman to be considered a veteran defender behind Robbie Wilson. He's a good, fluid athlete who can hit..

Special Teams
If Nathan Parseghian can be a reliable placekicker, special teams will be one of Miami's strengths. Jacob Richardson needs to boost up his average, but that'll come in time. Ryne Robinson is one of the nation's best punt returners who could finish his career as the best in college football history yardage-wise. Speedy Sean McVay is a dangerous kickoff returner.
The key to the unit: Hope for steady placekicking and get better in punt coverage.
Special Teams Rating: 8

Projected Starters
- PK Nathan Parseghian, Soph.
Parseghian spent all of last season working on his range and should be a decent replacement for All-MAC PK Todd Soderquist. Can he hit 18 of 21 inside of the 40 like Soderquist did?
- P Jacob Richardson, Soph. - 46 punts, 1,766 yards, 38.4 average, 10 inside the 20
Richardson has to up his net. He has a good leg and even showed a little bit of accuracy in his freshman year, but he only averaged 38.4 yards per kick. He has the potential to be an All-MAC performer with a little more time.

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