UL Monroe Preview 2006 - Defense

Posted Aug 8, 2006

UL Monroe Warhawks Preview 2006 - UL Monroe Defense

What you need to know ... This was hardly a rock of a defense last year, and now the 4-2-5 needs an infusion of talent among the front six. Ricky Williams is a nice tackle to build around, but star end Brandon Guillory is gone and there's not a pass rusher to immediately step in and take over. The secondary will be a major plus with four All-Sun Belt candidates and two superstars in corner Chaz Williams and safety Kevin Payne. Teams will try to run, run, and run some more to avoid this group.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Kevin Payne, 87
Sacks: Ricky Williams, 1.5
Interceptions: Chaz Williams, 5

Star of the defense: Senior FS Kevin Payne
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior DE Christiaan Cambridge
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LB Jeremy Moll
Best pro prospect: Payne
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Payne, 2) CB Chaz Williams, 3) DT Ricky Williams
Strength of the defense: Secondary
Weakness of the defense:
Run defense, proven pass rush

Defensive Line
Uh oh. ULM has to replace all four starters including do-it-all star Brandon Guillory. There's no one to immediately make up for his 9.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss, but the bigger concern will be stopping the run. Last year's group had a hard enough time allowing 191 yards per game, but this year's front four should have even more issues. Forget about any depth, starters needs to be established.
The key to the unit: Fight through the growing pains. This is a year for developing the young line in hopes that it grows into something decent over the next two seasons.
Defensive Line Rating: 4

Projected Starters
- DE Christiaan Cambridge, Sr. - 17 tackles, 1 TFL
A nice reserve over the last few years, Cambridge is a good-sized 262-pound senior on the end. He's not going to make many big plays in the backfield, and he hasn't been much of a pass rusher, but he should be good against the run.

- NG Ricky Williams, Jr. - 24 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3.5 TFL
A solid pass rusher on the inside, the 275-pound junior should be the team's most active lineman. It would be enough if he was strong against the run and could occupy blockers so the rest of the line could operate. With his experienced, he has to grow into the anchor.

- DT DeMarcus Carmouche, Soph. - 5 tackles
After seeing a little bit of time as a freshman, the 6-5, 290-pound Carmouche has the potential to be special. He's a great athlete as well as the biggest biggest player on the line. If he can progress a bit, he could grow into an All-Sun Belt performer; he has that sort of upside.

- DE Travis Eickman, Soph. - 5 tackles
While only 6-3 and 205 pounds, he's a speed rusher who needs to grow into a solid run stopper. He's a strong competitor who has to fill the void left by Brandon Guillory.

Top Backups
- DT David Cooper, Jr.
The JUCO transfer is one of the team's strongest defensive linemen. He's an athletic 265 pounds and should push for time right away behind DeMarcus Carmouche.
- DE Jameson Jordan, RFr.
The 6-4, 230-pound Jordan brings more size to the end than Travis Eickman, but he isn't the same athlete. Even so, he has the potetial to become a top pass rusher early on.

There's experience returning, but not a lot of talent or size. Josh Alexander, Jeremy Moll and Harry Bradley have been around long enough to be effective, but the two in the 4-2-5 won't sing unless JUCO transfer Matt Freeman and true freshman Josh Thomas become impact players out of the gate. Being strong against the run would be nice, but forcing more turnovers would be even better.
The key to the unit: More overall productivity. This group ahs to overcome the lack of size with more big plays.
Linebacker Rating: 4

Projected Starters
- Josh Alexander, Sr. - 24 tackles, 1 TFL
Ideally a middle linebacker, the 220-pound senior needs to use his experience to be a rock against the run. He has seen enough time to be able to handle himself well, but he has to prove he can make big plays as a pass rusher as well as in coverage.

- Jeremy Moll, Soph. - 39 tackles, 2.5 TFL
A sure, physical tackler for his size, the 203-pound Moll has to be a disruptive force if he's going to make a difference. While he's a willing hitter, he's simply too small against bigger linemen. With his quickness, he needs to be in the backfield on a regular basis.

Top Backups
- Harry Bradley, Sr. - 43 tackles, 2.5 TFL
Mostly a special teamer throughout his career, Bradley stepped up and become a decent but inconsistent defender. At only 224 pounds, he had problems against the run and didn't make many big plays. He could start if needed and allow the D to play a 4-3, but he'll begin the season behind Jeremy Moll.
- Ryan Roussel, Sr.
Purely a special teamer throughout his career, the 225-pound senior has been around the program long enough to finally make a contribution on defense. He'll play behind Josh Alexander, but he'll have to hold off JUCO transfer Matt Freeman.

Defensive Backs
If this isn't the Sun Belt's best secondary, it's a close number two with four possible all-conference stars. Safety Kevin Payne and corner Chaz Williams are two of the league's best players and will be in NFL camps soon, while corner Quintez Secka and rover Josh Thompson are growing into excellent all-around defenders. There's little to no developed depth, but there will still be an early rotation to get everyone involved.
The key to the unit: Be more supportive against the run. Stopping decent Sun Belt passing teams won't be a problem, but hanging around with the power offenses might be tough.
Secondary Rating: 6

Projected Starters
- CB Quintez Secka, Sr. - 36 tackles, 1 interception, 5 broken up passes
Last year's star JUCO transfer showed off the potential to be a lock-down corner. He has nice size and enough experience over the last few seasons both at ULM and Coffeyville CC in Kansas to be a potential all-star. Now he needs to make more plays with the ball is in the air.

- FS Kevin Payne, Sr. - 87 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 interceptions, 1 broken up pass
The former running back has grown into a whale of a defensive back. He got over a broken arm to use his speed and 6-1, 212-pound size to become the team's leading tackler. Now that he knows what he's doing, he should take the next step up and become a more dangerous all-around playmaker and should attract the eyes of the scouts.

- Rover Josh Thompson, Soph. - 40 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 interceptions, 3 broken up passes
Thompson had an excellent true freshman season showing off his ball-skills while not being afraid to mix it up against the run. He's a good hitting 210 pounds with cornerback moves; he'll be an All-Sun Belt performer soon.

- S Austin Willis, Sr. - 16 tackles
The JUCO transfer played a little bit of a role last year on special teams and as a reserve. He'll not step in as the third safety and has to show off range and toughness against the run. Quickness won't be a problem, but he's only 195 pounds and won't hold up if being asked to be a top run stopper.

- CB Chaz Williams, Jr. - 46 tackles, 5 interceptions, 5 broken up passes
Williams is a next-level corner prospect, and he plays like it. There's not a better tackling corner in the conference, and few more physical when going after the ball.  He's a playmaker when the ball is in his hands returning his five picks for 138 yards, but he likely won't see the ball come his way too often with teams sure to stay away from him.

Top Backups
- CB Eddie Webb, Jr. - 14 tackles, 1 broken up pass
Webb saw a little time last year, but the former high school running back hasn't been able to fully translate his speed and size to cornerback. It didn't help that he was beaten out for a job by Quintez Secka, but he's proven to be good enough to start if needed.
S James Wright, Jr.
The walk-on hasn't been able to see must time anywhere but on special teams, but he has the size at 6-2 and 206 pounds to step in and be a bigger option behind Austin Willis.

Special Teams
Safety Kevin Payne handle the punting job this spring, but that might not last too long with all he has to do on defense. Ragan Walters is a serviceable field goal kicker who needs to show off more range. The kickoff return game was the league's best averaging 21.8 yards per try. Payne averaged 28.8 yards per return, but Chaz Williams will get his share of tries. The nation's worst punt return game needs J.J. McCoy to average more than 2.9 yards per try.

The key to the unit: More range on field goals, better coverage, and consistent punting from Kevin Payne. Essentially, this ULM special teams need a lot of work.
Special Teams Rating: 4.5

Projected Starters
- PK Ragan Walters, Jr. - 6-10 FGs, 19-20 extra points
The veteran isn't bad from inside 40 yards, but his range and accuracy drops off in a hurry as he moves out. The coaching staff isn't afraid to led him try a few long kicks, he has the leg for it, but he has to start making them.
- P Kevin Payne, Sr.
Is he really going to be the team's punter? The star safety will hold down the fort until Chris Symmes appears ready to take over, but neither will be Joel Stelly, who averaged 44.6 yards per kick and put 13 inside the 20.

Related Stories
UL Monroe Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006
UL Monroe Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006
UL Monroe Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006

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