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2007 Kent State Preview - Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 18, 2007


Preview 2007 Kent State Golden Flash Defense

Kent State Golden Flashes

Preview 2007 - Defense


- 2007 Kent State Preview | 2007 KSU Offense Preview 
-
2007 KSU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Kent State Preview 

What you need to know: Somewhat quietly, Kent State had one of the MAC's best defenses last season getting into the backfield, and to the quarterback, on a regular basis, while getting a phenomenal statistical season out of the secondary. CB Jack Williams and SS Fritz Jacques are good defenders to build around, but the rest of the secondary is a question mark. The front seven, in KSU's 3-4, should be excellent led by tackle Colin Ferrell and the Buck, the hybrid of end and linebacker, Kevin Hogan, should be one of the MAC's top pass rushing terrors. The D won't be as good as last year, but it won't be bad.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Fritz Jacques & Steven Moss, 72
Sacks: Kevin Hogan, 7.5
Interceptions: Jack Williams, 4

Star of the defense: Senior CB Jack Williams
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior CB Danny Sadler
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore DT Aaron Hull
Best pro prospect: Williams
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Williams, 2) DT Colin Ferrell, 3) SS Fritz Jacques
Strength of the defense: Pass rush, ends
Weakness of the defense:
Second corner back, backup defensive back experience

Defensive Line

Projected Starters: The line should be one of the team's biggest strengths as long as everyone is healthy. It starts in the middle with the return of senior Colin Ferrell on the nose after making 45 tackles, two sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss. A great interior pass rusher over the last few years, he's more vital as the anchor of the defense. At 283 pounds, he's one of the team's biggest linemen, and one of the toughest players.

Next to him will be sophomore Aaron Hull, a 6-0, 265-pound bowling ball who made 11 tackles and four tackles for loss as a reserve. He'll be part of a rotation again and should be strong at getting into the backfield on a regular basis.

On the end will once against be junior Prishod Koonce, who made 14 tackles and a sack in just six games before suffering a knee injury that kept him out through spring ball. At 6-3 and 266 pounds, he's a big run stopper who can also get to the quarterback, but it remains to be seen how effective he'll be when he's back.

Projected Top Reserves: While Hull will get the start at tackle, sophomore Sam Frist will play a big part of the rotation. A tremendous pass rushing prospect, he has to be healthy to see time at both the end and, at 6-4 and 258 pounds, an undersized tackle.

With Koonce a question mark, 6-3, 236-pound junior David Filippi has to be ready to step in. He was a decent reserve making ten tackles and a sack, and now he has to be more of a pass rusher.

On the way is top JUCO transfer Darrius Carter, a 6-5, 245-pound playmaker on the end. He's a tremendous athlete who should see plenty of time at several spots up front.

Watch Out For ... a big rotation of players to keep everyone fresh. The bad: Ferrell, Koonce and Frist were out this spring trying to get healthy. The good: several players got a chance to develop. That'll help out down the road.
Strength: Ferrell. While he might not be the flashiest of defenders, he's a good veteran to revolve the line around. He's a do-it-all tackle with too much quickness for most interior offensive lineman and excellent toughness that sets the tone up front.
Weakness
:
Overall size. Considering KSU plays, for the most part, a 3-4, it would be nice is there was a monster 300-pound rock somewhere up front. While the line isn't small, there isn't a whole bunch of space-eating girth.
Outlook: While the front three can get to the quarterback, the main objective is to hold up while everyone else gets to run around and make plays. Ferrell and Koonce will do more than just hold their own, while Hull and Frist have to become rocks against the run. Bigger, better lines will push this group around, but it'll handle itself well in MAC play.
Rating:
5.5

Linebackers

Projected Starters: In the KSU system, there's a position called the Buck, which is a hybrid of defensive end and outside linebacker. Basically, the job is to wreak havoc and make lots and lots of big plays. Sophomore Kevin Hogan proved last year that he could do just that turning into a pass rushing terror with 7.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 35 overall stops.

While he's a safety-sized 6-2 and 210 pounds, he can move and is tough against the run. In the middle returns junior Stevon Moss, who finished tied for second on the team with 72 tackles to go along with three sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Always around the ball, the 230-pounder has good range and a nice speed burst into the backfield. Now he has to do more against the pass and use his experience to be more of a leader.

At the true outside linebacker positions, junior Jameson Konz is back on the strongside while junior Derek Burrell will take over on the weak. At 6-2 and 240 pounds, Burrell is a bigger-than-normal option on the weakside, and he has to prove he can be consistent in pass coverage along with being a rock against the run. The opposite is true for the 203-pound Konz, a smallish linebacker for his position who held up relatively well making 34 tackles and five tackles for loss.

Projected Top Reserves: First off the bench, and likely to see starting time somewhere, will be junior Cedrick Maxwell, who made 69 tackles and a sack last year in the rotation. Great at getting to the ball and helping to clean up plays against the run, he's a good veteran who could end up playing on the weakside after starting the year behind Konz.

An up-and-coming playmaker in the middle is sophomore Anthony Mirando, who got his feet wet last season making 11 tackles in the rotation as a true freshman.

At 6-2 and 207 pounds, sophomore Lester Troutman is undersized for the front seven, but he's extremely quick and has a defensive lineman's toughness. That makes him a perfect option for the Buck linebacker position where he'll back up Hogan.

Watch Out For ... Hogan. Statistical stars are made out of the Buck position, and after a year of learning how to handle the job, he should bloc up with a double-digit sack season.
Strength: Experience. With three starters returning from one of the MAC's best linebacking corps, the sky's the limit on how good this group can be. It's quick, active, and extremely tough against the run.
Weakness
:
Overall play against the pass. That's the secondary's job. The linebackers are there to make plays against the run and shake things up in the backfield, but it would be nice if the outside linebackers could do more in pass coverage.
Outlook: Assuming you're counting the Buck as a linebacker and not a defensive end, the Golden Flashes are loaded here. Stevon Moss should be one of the league's most active middle linebackers, while Konz and Burrell will be turned loose to do what they can do become disruptive forces. Hogan and Troutman will have one job: hit the quarterback.
Rating: 6


Defensive Backs

Projected Starters: The secondary starts with all-star corner Jack Williams, who despite only behind 5-9 and 180 pounds made 62 tackles last season with two interceptions and six broken up passes. Incredibly quick and tough as nails against the run, he has made 125 stops over the last two years and will be the one everyone stays away from in the passing game.

The other corner is a question mark with Danny Sadler likely to get the first look to replace Andre Kirkland. He's untested, making most of his plays so far on special teams, but he has some of the best wheels in the secondary.

Senior strong safety Fritz Jacques is back after finishing second on the team in tackles and making 147 over the last two seasons. Despite only behind 5-11 and 176 pounds, he packs a pop on his hits and it getting better in the passing game. He plays like an extra linebacker against the run and has the range of a free safety.

At free safety, trying to replace speedster Usama Young, will be Brian Lainhart, who needs seasoning but has the potential to become a solid pass defender. Young was a big hitter, and Lainhart has to prove he can deliver close to the same sort of punch.

Projected Top Reserves: Neck-and-neck with Lainhart for the starting free safety job is 6-1, 190-pound redshirt freshman Calvin Taylor and 6-2, 200-pound redshirt freshman Dan Hartman. Taylor is far more suited for the job, while Hartman, who played well throughout spring, can play either safety spot and will likely start out the year playing behind Jacques.

Fighting for playing time at corner will be redshirt freshman Kirk Belgrave, who was a standout at times in the spring session and will likely see action in nickel and dime packages.

Watch Out For ... a drop-off from last year. The Golden Flash secondary was tremendous, but that was with Young and Kirkland. Williams and Jacques are great players to build around, and the newcomers are solid, but there's still a concern over their consistency.
Strength: Williams. If he's not the MAC's premier corner, he's in the top three and the type of defender who can take away half the field, or the opposing team's number one. Having him allows the free safety to concentrate more on the other side.
Weakness
:
Veteran outside of the two returning starters. There's no appreciable playing experience outside of Williams and Jacques, so it might be trial by fire for at least the first few games.
Outlook: KSU finished fifth in the nation in pass efficiency defense and tenth in pass defense, allowing 159 yards per game. While those numbers are great no matter how you cut it, the fact is the secondary played almost no one who knew how to throw the forward pass. Having two veterans like Williams and Jacuqes should ensure that the overall production doesn't fall off the map, but it's going to take a little while before the secondary plays anywhere near last year's level.
Rating: 6

Special Teams

Projected Starters: There's hope for a big improvement as sophomore Nick Reed had a good spring after a miserable 2006. He hit just one of four kicks with all coming from within 40 yards. Sophomore Jake Kilroy also had an awful year averaging just 33 yards per kick, but he forced 15 fair catches and put nine inside the 20. Neither has a particularly big leg, but they should be better.

Watch Out For ... an overall improvement. Reed appears to be more consistent while Kilroy should be fine if he gets more help from his coverage unit.
Strength: Um, uh, uhhhhh ... it's a new year. Kent State might have had the worst special teams in America.
Weakness
:
Absolutely everything. The KSU special teams are starting from scratch with no range from the kickers, no pop from the return game, and awful coverage units.
Outlook: It's not like the Golden Flashes played in many tight games, so the poor production didn't prove to be all that costly, but there needs to be a night-and-day improvement. Things can't be any worse after finishing 116th in the nation in punting, 93rd in punt returns, 86th in kickoff returns, and getting just two of ten field goals out of the kickers. Expect things to be a bit better, especially in the kicking game.
Rating:
4.5

  

Related Stories
2007 Kent State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 18, 2007
2007 Kent State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 18, 2007
2007 Kent State Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 18, 2007








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