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UNLV Preview 2006 - Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 7, 2006


UNLV Rebels Preview 2006 - UNLV Rebel Defense

What you need to know ... The defense was decent against the run and had problems against the pass, but that should quickly change with the addition of USC's Eric Wright, UCLA's Mil'Von James, and Oklahoma's Tony Cade to the secondary. The front three needs to find ends who can rush the passer with Howie Fuimaono sure to be on of the Mountain West's best anchors in the middle. The linebacking corps has Beau Bell and the hope for a few JUCO transfers to come through. Expect the schemes and formations to change wildly throughout the season depending on the emergence of all the new additions.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Beau Bell, 92
Sacks: Beau Bell, 3.5
Interceptions: Matt Pattison, 1

Star of the defense: Junior CB Eric Wright
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore DEs Jeremy Geathers and Jacob Hales
Unsung star on the rise: Freshman S Daryl Forte
Best pro prospect: Senior DT Howie Fuimaono
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Wright, 2) Fuimaono, 3) LB Beau Bell
Strength of the defense: Cornerback, athleticism
Weakness of the defense:
Defensive end, linebacker depth

Defensive Line
The line was an issue with no consistent pass rush and not nearly enough production against the run. Howie Fuimaono is the only returning starter up front, but he's a great one to work around. The ends are all very, very green and there's not a sure-thing pass rusher in the bunch. Jeremy Geathers and Jacob Hales will get the first looks on the outside with several incoming players led by Mike Roland and Tim High each getting every shot at a starting job.
The key to the unit: Find a pass rush and come up with ends that can play.
Defensive Line Rating: 4.5

Projected Starters
- DE Jeremy Geathers, Soph.
The speedy JUCO transfer has to be an immediate factor at end providing more of a pass rush than top sacker Leon Moore provided last season. While he's not all that big at 250 pounds, he can move.

- NG Howie Fuimaono, Sr. - 21 tackles, 4.5 TFL
The 6-0, 335-pound bowling ball of a guard is a next-level talent who is one of the league's premier run stoppers. Consistency is a bit of an issue and he won't get into the backfield all that much, but he should be even better after playing hurt with injured feet over the second half of last season. He's a perfect anchor to build around.

- DE Jacob Hales, Soph. - 7 tackles, 1 sack
Able to play tackle or end, the 280-pound sophomore will get a shot at the starting job. He's an older player coming into the season at 24 after serving an LDS mission and transferring from Southern Utah. While not expected to be a top pass rusher, he'll be strong against the run.

Top Backups
- DE Robert Travers, Soph. - 3 tackles
Travers is a pure pass rusher. At least he has to be playing behind Jeremy Geathers. At 255 pounds he's not small and has good quickness.
- NG Perry Eppenger, RFr.
Eppinger is a big 300-pound body to stuff things up inside behind Howie Fuimaono. He'll see plenty of action with big-time upside and pass rushing ability in the middle.
- DE Faauo Faga, Jr. - 5 tackles
The 270-pound junior is a big body on the end with linebacker athleticism. He'll have to battle with several incoming prospects for a number two job behind Jacob Hales.

Linebackers
Beau Bell is the only returning linebacker to a corps that loses Joe Miklos and Bobby Kelly. There's good potential if Matt Pattison can get over a foot injury and JUCO transfers Adrian Bradley and Bradley Niles turn out to be immediate playmakers. K.C. Asiodu and Jason Beauchamp are rising stars who'll be fixtures in the starting mix soon. At the very least, they need to provide some depth.
The key to the unit: Get all the great athletes to become top defenders while developing enough depth to have options at each position.
Linebacker Rating: 5

Projected Starters
- Matt Pattison, Sr. - 54 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 6.5 TFL, 1 interception
Pattison was on his way to a big season before becoming limited by a foot injury. He's still trying to get to 100%, but the former JUCO transfer should be ready to use his excellent speed on the outside come fall. He's a dangerous pass rusher and should finish among the team's top tacklers.

- Beau Bell, Jr. - 92 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL
The leader of the linebacking corps, Bell is back as the team's top returning tackler and on the verge of an All-Mountain West season. He's a tall, big defender with good range. He'll be moved around where needed between the middle and outside.

- Adrian Bradley, Jr.
The JUCO transfer is expected to see immediate action on the weakside. He's a strong 225 pounds who hit camp early after leaving NE Oklahoma A&M as one of the team's top tacklers. He'll have to work to keep the starting job, but he's too good an athlete not to see time somewhere in the mix.

Top Backups
- K.C. Asiodu, Soph. - 26 tackles, 1 sack, 3.5 TFL
The former safety is a cut 230 pounds with the wheels to become a disruptive force in the middle pushing for time behind Beau Bell. He's athletic enough to become a top player against the pass.
- Bradley Niles, Jr.
The JUCO transfer is the team's biggest linebacker coming over from Gavilan College. He'll be used as a strong run defender on the strongside trying to beat out Matt Pattison.

- Jason Beauchamp, RFr.
More of a safety than a linebacker at 6-3 and 210 pounds, Beauchamp will find is way on the field as the best athlete in the linebacking corps. He's not a blazer, but he can jump and has the instincts of a defensive back. He'll be used as a pass rusher.

Defensive Backs
Has any secondary in the nation made such an instant improvement? Injuries and inconsistencies were a major problem last season, especially at cornerback, when the Rebels were picked clean by any quarterback with an arm. Former USC starter Eric Wright and UCLA transfer Mil'Von James will be instant stars helping out the solid John Guice at corner. Jay Staggs is a great tackling safety who'll have to make more big plays, but he'll get plenty of help from former Oklahoma Sooner Tony Cade to add size and speed to the mix. 
The key to the unit: All the top transfers have to play as well as advertised.
Secondary Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- CB John Guice, Sr. - 55 tackles, 2 sacks, 4.5 TFL, 4 broken up passes
The team's best all-around corner last season despite playing through several injuries, Guice won't have the pressure of being the number one man with Eric Wright coming in on the other side. Guice isn't all that big and was beaten a little too often, but he's a tough veteran with years in the JUCO ranks to go along with his season of D-I starting experience.

- S Daryl Forte, Fr.
The greyshirt true freshman will get a strong look at one of the starting spots until Tony Cade is ready to take over. He's not nearly as big as Cade and has no experience whatsoever, but he can move.

- S Jay Staggs, Sr. - 62 tackles, 2 TFL, 4 broken up passes
It'll be up to the 225-pound Staggs to take over as the main safety with leading tackler Joe Miklos gone. He's a former wide receiver who finished fourth on the team in tackles with enough experience to be a tone-setting playmaker.

- NB Nate Kenion, Sr. - 26 tackles, 1 broken up pass
One of the team's faster players, the transfer from Saint Mary's College will be a key player as the nickel back unless transfers Mil'Von James and Tony Cade end up taking over. Kenion was a strong reserve last season against the run, but didn't do much against the pass.

- CB Eric Wright, Jr.
The transfer from USC instantly becomes the team's top defensive back. He has a national title ring from the Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma and has the speed and lock-down skills to be a dominant number one corner and an All-Mountain West performer. At least that's what the expectation will be.

Top Backups
- CB Mil'Von James, Jr.
The UCLA transfer will provide a bigger option than John Guice on the other side of Eric Wright. He's 6-0 and 205 pounds and hits like a safety. He left UCLA to be a cornerback and won't move to safety. However, he could turn into a nickel back to get on the field at the same time as Guice and Wright.
- S Tony Cade, Jr.
It'll be a shock if Cade doesn't find his way into the starting mix right away. The former Oklahoma Sooner and JUCO superstar at City College of San Francisco is one of the team's biggest safeties. He has the speed and talent to be an instant star.

Special Teams
The kicking game is in great shape with Sergio Aguayo one of the league's best kickers and Kip Facer a reliable punter. Now the team needs more from the return game after averaging 20.3 yards per kickoff return and only 6.5 yards on punt returns. John Guice will get the fist look at returning punts while Erick Jackson, Eric Wright and Mil'Von James will handle the kickoff returns. The coverage units were great last year and should be good again.
The key to the unit: A bit more consistency from the kicking game and a lot more production from the returners.
Offensive Line Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- PK Sergio Aguayo, Jr. - 12-16 FGs, 21-22 extra points
Aguayo had a rock solid season highlighted by a pair of 52-yard field goals against San Diego State. He has great range and should be in the mix for All-Conference honors if he can be a wee big more consistent.
- P Kip Facer, Sr. - 66 punts, 2,709 yds, 41-yard average, 8 inside the 20
Facer went from being a walk-on from the JUCO ranks to a solid starter helping lead the Rebels to the number two spot in the league in net punting. He's great at hanging the ball up in the air and has the experience to be a reliable weapon, but he'll have to battle with Brian Pacheco to keep the job.

Related Stories
UNLV Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
UNLV Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006
UNLV Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 7, 2006








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