2007 UL Monroe Preview - Defense

Posted May 16, 2007

Preview 2007 UL Monroe Warhawk Defense

UL Monroe Warhawks

Preview 2007 - Defense

- 2007 UL Monroe Preview | 2007 ULM Offense Preview  
2007 ULM Depth Chart | 2006 CFN UL Monroe Preview 

What you need to know:
The same problems ULM had last year appear to be the same issues going into this year with a questionable run defense and no proven pass rush, but the strength, the secondary, will be the same even without Kevin Payne and Chaz Williams. The 4-2-5 did its job against mediocre offenses, but got ripped apart by any offense with a pulse. Unless the line is better, the Warhawks will be pounded on by everyone in the Sun Belt.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Josh Thompson, 83
Sacks: Aaron Morgan, 4
Interceptions: Josh Thompson, 6

Star of the defense: Junior S Josh Thompson
Player that has to step up and become a star:
Senior DTs David Cooper and Kendall Mouton
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman S Alex Ibe

Best pro prospect: Thompson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Thompson, 2) CB Quintez Secka, 3) LB Cardia Jackson
Strength of the defense: Secondary
Weakness of the defense:
Run defense, proven pass rush

Defensive Line

Projected Starters: The line didn't do nearly enough to get into the backfield last year, and that means sophomore ends Alaric Coleman and Jameson Jordan have to boost the production. The 6-3, 250-pound Coleman played 12 games as a reserve making a sack and two tackles for loss among his nine tackles. He's a pure pass rusher who should be a big upgrade on one side, while Jordan, who made 25 tackles, has to do something, anything, to start making more big plays after registering just one tackles for loss. While he generated some pressure, he didn't close. He has a 6-5, 235-pound frame that's tough to throw over.

On the inside, ULM has excellent beef to anchor around. 315-pound senior Kendall Mouton is back on the nose after making 11 tackles as a reserve. The former JUCO transfer is too big and too experienced to not become more of a factor against the run.

273-pound senior David Cooper also came in from the JUCO ranks to make 19 tackles. While he isn't much of an interior pass rusher, he's one of the team's stronger players and should do more on the inside.

Projected Top Reserves: Hope for more of a pass rush comes from 6-5, 215-pound sophomore Aaron Morgan, who might look like a big wide receiver, but he's physical and very, very quick off the line. With just a little bit of work, he came up with a team-leading four sacks. Now he'll start out behind Coleman.

6-5, 293-pound DeMarcus Carmouche was decent in a reserve role making 15 tackles while coming up with two sacks. The junior has all the potential in the world to become a special player, but it hasn't kicked in yet. He has the size, the quickness, and the strength to be far better.

On the end, junior Travis Eickman, at 6-3, 230 pounds, is a smaller, quick option behind Jordan. While he has the drive and the speed to be a regular pass rusher, he only came up with one sack and 23 tackles last season.

Watch Out For ... more plays behind the line. 19 sacks and 47 tackles for loss aren't going to get it done for this group. It has to be a far more active front four.
Strength: Size in the middle. The tackles might not be all that quick, but they're big enough to clog things up against most Sun Belt teams. There will be a good rotation of beef at both spots.
A sure-thing pass rusher. Morgan is a sure-thing pass rusher, but he's not big enough to be a full-time end. Coleman and Jordan have to be more creative at getting to the quarterback.
Outlook: There's too much experience not to be better. It's a wonder the secondary was as good as it was without the benefit of a pass rush, but more importantly in the Sun Belt, the line has to get to the runner in a bigger hurry. 114th in the nation in tackles for loss isn't going to cut it. If Cooper and Mouton can be solid inside, there should be a good enough rotation on the ends for this to be a better year.
Rating: 4.5


Projected Starters: Junior Jeremy Moll is back after making just 19 tackles, but he was limited to just eight games of action. He has to do a far better job of stopping the run to hold on to the job going into the fall, when a slew of top prospects are coming in. While he bulked up to 220 pounds, he's still quick enough to be disruptive. Now he has to produce.

Next to Moll will be sophomore Cardia Jackson, the team's second leading returning tackler finishing fourth with 58 stops. While he was decent enough against the run, he didn't do enough to get into the backfield or make plays against the pass to secure him in a spot this fall.

Projected Top Reserves: The starting twosome will still be determined later this summer when top recruit Alvin Jordan hits campus. A tough high school running back as well as a tackling machine at linebacker, the 228 pounder will get every shot to win one of the starting jobs.

230-pound junior, Chance Payne, started out his career a quarterback completing 34 of 58 passes for 404 yards and two touchdowns with an interception as the backup behind Kinsmon Lancaster. Now he'll be a backup linebacker using his size, smarts and toughness to play behind Jackson.

Sophomore Josh Thomas walked on last season and made 18 tackle sand three tackles for loss in a reserve role. He's a smart player, but he'll likely just be a special teamer.

Everything will change this fall when Lincston Jones, Kenneth Dorsey, and Theo Smith come in. The strength of the recruiting class, these four could all take over the corps at some point this year.

Watch Out For ... all the freshmen. Moll, Jackson, and Thomas are just linebackers leaving open the possibility for others to quickly step in. Jordan might start from day one.
Strength: Potential. It's never a good thing to rely so heavily on true freshmen, but the defense only needs two of them in the 4-2-5 to stand out. Moll and Jackson are serviceable until the new guys get their feet wet.
Backups. It's asking a lot for a quarterback (Payne) to play a key role, and Thomas isn't top-starting material. If the freshmen play like freshmen and need seasoning, there will be big problems.
Outlook: This might be the team's wild-card. Everyone needs to be better against the run, and two linebackers have to emerge as major disruptive forces. Jackson is the best of the bunch and will likely hold down a starting job, but everyone's waiting to see what the baby 'backers can do.
Rating: 4

Defensive Backs

Projected Starters: Rover Josh Thompson stepped in as a true freshman and had a nice 40 tackle season, and then he blossomed as a sophomore finishing second on the team with 83 stops and six interceptions showing hitting skills and an ability to get to the ball like a corner. He has decent size at 215 pounds, terrific range, and the potential to be an All-Sun Belt star as the leader of the secondary.

The big issue will be at free safety, where sophomore James Truxillo will step in for now-Chicago Bear Kevin Payne. A strong reserve last year with 35 tackles, Truxillo will put up good stats, but he doesn't have the range or hitting ability of Payne.

At the third safety spot will be senior James Wright, a 6-2, 206-pound walk-on who came up with 26 tackles and an interception. He'll be used more like a linebacker than a safety.

The corners should be a strength with the return of seniors Quintez Secka and Darrius Battles. Secka has nice size and lock-down athleticism making ten tackles in three games before having issues with a hamstring injury. He's back and should be one of the best in the Sun Belt. Battles missed all of last year working on his studies. He made 29 stops in 2005 and picked off four passes and should be strong on the weakside. He'll be one of the team's leaders in picks.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Greg James was fantastic last season in place of Secka making 46 tackles and five interceptions. He's built like a safety with excellent ball skills, and while he'll play behind Secka, he'll see more than his share of time among the five starting defensive backs.

It'll be up to a slew of redshirt freshmen to fill in among the reserves with speedy Alex Blake working behind Battles on the weakside, 6-3, 197-pound Alex Ibe ready to provide a big hitting presence at rover behind Thompson, and Preston Fuller will find time behind Wright and could push for the starting job come fall.

Watch Out For ... the corners to be fantastic. It might seem like a concern with Secka coming off an injury and Battles out last year, but these two will be great against the mediocre Sun Belt receivers.
Strength: Hitting safeties. Losing Payne isn't a plus, but Thompson, Truxillo and Wright will all tackle well. They need to be rocks in run support with average linebackers in front of them.
Experienced reserves. There's talent among the strong secondary, but there's not a lot of veteran backups to rely on. James is a solid corner, but he's the extent of the experience behind the starters.

Outlook: Normally, Sun Belt teams don't quickly recover after losing NFL talents like Kevin Payne and Chaz Williams, but ULM should still have one of the league's best pass defenses. There are a lot of question marks, but the overall talent is goo denough to keep most passing games under 200 yards.
Rating: 5.5

Special Teams

Projected Starters: Punter Kevin Payne is off to the Chicago Bears (as a safety) after averaging 40.5 yards per punt. He wasn't great with his accuracy, but he could air it out. Taking over will be sophomore Scott Love, who got a little bit of work last year when Payne was hurt averaging 36.8 yards on five kick. The numbers are a bit skewed because of a shank, but he has a decent enough leg to average around 40 yards per try. However, consistency is going to be a big issue, and he has to learn to get more air under the ball.

Senior kicker Cole Wilson is back after hitting 14 of 15 field goal attempts, with the one miss coming from 50 yards; he's automatic

Watch Out For ... the return game to continue to be an issue. There wasn't anything from the punt returns last season averaging just 4.56 yards per try, and while Darrell McNeal has the speed and quickness, he needs more room to run.
Strength: Wilson will once again be among the best kickers in the country. He might not have much in the way of deep range, but topping out at around 45 yards is hardly anything to sneeze at.
Love. If spring ball was any indication, he has a lot of work to do to become a weapon of a punter. However, ULM was 101st in the nation in punting with Payne, so things can't be too much worse.
Outlook: Wilson will be the difference in at least two games, but the rest of the special teams will be mediocre. Calvin Dawson and Darrell McNeal will be fine on kickoff returns, but McNeal has to do more with punt returns and the coverage units have to be far, far better. Love will be the big issue needing to be consistent.
Rating: 5.5


Related Stories
2007 UL Monroe Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 16, 2007
2007 UL Monroe Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 16, 2007
2007 UL Monroe Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  May 16, 2007

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