2007 Kent State Preview - Defense
Kent State Golden Flash Defense
State Golden Flashes
Preview 2007 - Defense
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2006 CFN Kent State
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.
Tackles: Fritz Jacques
& Steven Moss,
Kevin Hogan, 7.5
Interceptions: Jack Williams, 4
Star of the defense: Senior CB Jack Williams
Second corner back, backup defensive back experience
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior CB
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.