2008 Kent State Preview - Defense
Kent State LB Derek Burrell
CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Kent State Golden Flash Defense
State Golden Flashes
Preview 2008 - Defense
2008 Kent State
2008 Kent State
2008 Kent State
2008 Kent State
2007 Kent State
2006 CFN Kent State
What you need to know: The defense
wasn't quite the killer it was in 2006, but it was above average
and was fantastic at getting into the backfield. Expect more of
the same with great pass rushers on the end, led by Kevin Hogan,
and the linebacking corps could be fantastic with hitting
machine Derek Burrell leading the way along with good run
stoppers Stevon Moss and Cedrick Maxwell. The secondary is
young, with four sophomores playing big roles, but everyone can
hit and CB Rico Murray is special.
Tackles: Derek Burrell,
Kevin Hogan, 5
Interceptions: Brian Lainhart, 2
Star of the defense: Senior LB Derek Burrell
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior NT
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore FS Will Johnson
Best pro prospect: Senior CB Rico Murray
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Burrell, 2) Murray, 3)
DE Kevin Hogan
Strength of the defense: Linebackers, tackling defensive
Weakness of the defense:
Steady run defense
Projected Starters: One of the defense's biggest
losses is tackle Colin Ferrell, who made 56 tackles and five sacks as
one of the MAC's premier interior pass rushers. 6-0, 280-pound junior
Aaron Hull will get his chance as a full-time starter after getting
the call in three games last year on the nose. A bowling ball of a
defender with good quickness, he made 17 tackles and 3.5 tackles for
Getting the call on the nose in place of Larry Brown will be junior
Sam Frist, who at 6-4 and 269 pounds is over 30 pounds lighter than
Brown but is promising. Set back by a knee injury a few years ago, he
returned to make 12 tackles and a sack. Athletic enough to play on the
end if needed, he'll use his quickness on the inside to try to get into
the backfield on a regular basis, but he has to prove he can hold up
against the run.
Junior Kevin Hogan has the talent and potential to thrive at the
Buck position, sort of a hybrid of an end and an outside linebacker, and
he built on a great freshman season with 56 tackles, five sacks and 16
tackles for loss as one of the team's top pass rushers. At 6-3 and 233
pounds, he's built like a linebacker and uses his quick first step to be
a disruptive force in a variety of ways. He'll be turned loose even more
6-3, 246-pound Senior David Filippi has been a decent reserve
making 19 tackles and three tackles for loss after coming up with ten
stops as a sophomore. He has a great motor and he'll get into the
backfield from time to time on sheer want-to, but he hasn't been able to
produce on a regular basis yet. Now he'll get his chance to shine with
more starting work on the outside.
Projected Top Reserves: If senior Darrius
Carter isn't the starter on the end, he'll be off the bench in a
real hurry. The 6-5, 245-pound former JUCO transfer made 21 tackles and
1.5 sacks in his first season, and with his quickness and burst off the
ball, he needs to be more of a consistent pass rusher.
Senior Prishod Koonce brings more bulk to the nose measuring in
over 25 pounds heavier than Sam Frist. He was a promising inside
defender before suffering a knee injury, but he spent time in the weight
room and got bigger. However, he only got on the field in four games and
made two tackles.
Working with Kevin Hogan at the Buck position will once again be
sophomore Monte Simmons, who made 19 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 5.5
tackles for loss in a reserve role. He got two starts at the end of his
true freshman season and showed tremendous promise. the 6-3, 220-pounder
is a speed rusher who could be a dominator in the backfield with more
playing time. He should be an All-MAC stat producer before his career is
Needing to play a big role inside is 6-3, 316-pound freshman
Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, who's very raw but has something the line
desperately needs: beef. At 6-3 and 316 pounds, he's a run-stuffer who
could see time behind Aaron Hull right away on short-yardage plays.
Watch Out For ... Monte Simmons and Darrius Carter.
Kevin Hogan is one of the MAC's best pass rushers, but Carter, a senior,
is due to break out and Simmons is about to blow up. These have too much
quickness to not be hitting quarterbacks on a regular basis.
Strength: Making plays in the backfield. The
Golden Flashes led the league, and were 19th in the nation, in tackles
for loss with 87 on the season. There could stand to be more sacks, but
there's plenty of pressure. Expect more this year.
Weakness: Bulk on the inside. Aaron Hull has beefed up, but he's
still a puffed up 280 pounds. Prishod Koonce and Ishmaa'ily Kitchen have
to have a role right away against the power running teams.
Outlook: Losing Colin Ferrell on the inside will
be a problem, but there's enough experience and enough talent to be one
of the league's best lines. Big O lines that can pound should have some
success, but the big-stodgy ones will have a major problem with all the
KSU quickness. The D plays a 4-3 that can be a 3-4 depending on what the
Buck position does, but wherever Kevin Hogan and Monte Simmons line up,
Projected Starters: The defense will revolve
around 6-2, 240-pound senior Derek Burrell after a 112-tackle,
five tackle for loss season. He's a big hitter for a weakside defender,
and while he doesn't do much against the pass, he's a major run stopper
who's terrific at getting in on every play. While he's not a pass
rusher, he could be used as more of one with his experience and
quickness. Bigger than some of KSU's defensive ends, he could by used as
a hybrid defender and put close to the line at times.
Senior Stevon Moss has been a fixture in the middle for the last
few seasons making 171 career tackles with 57 coming last year despite
missing the first four games. While he didn't do much to get into the
backfield last year, he was solid against the pass picking off a pass
against Northern Illinois and coming up with three broken up passes.
Beefing up to 230 pounds on a 5-11 frame, he was able to handle himself
better on the inside and should once again be a steady producer.
With Jameson Kunz moving to tight end, 5-10, 220-pound Cedrick
Maxwell will take over on the strongside after making 74 tackles in
the middle and on the weakside. While he's not huge, he's a big hitter
who's fantastic at getting to the ball and doesn't make too many
mistakes. He has 24 career starts and 31 games played under his belt
showing his versatility playing in all three spots.
Projected Top Reserves: 6-2, 239-pound junior
Anthony Mirando played a key backup role finishing with 22 tackles.
He didn't do much of anything against the pass, but he's a playmaker who
isn't a bad hitter on the weakside behind Derek Burrell. He's built big
enough to move to the strongside if needed.
6-1, 230-pound Cobrani Mixon is a talent in the middle who was
one of the team's top recruits a few years ago. He would've been off to
a bigger program out of high school, but he had a torn ACL, which he
played through. He'll have a hard time getting too much time playing
behind Stevon Moss, but he'll be a tackling machine whenever he's on the
Watch Out For ... Anthony Mirando and Cobrani Mixon.
The starting linebacking corps is all but set, but there will be a place
on the field for the team's two key backups. Mixon will eventually be a
star in the middle and Mirando should put up big stats when he gets on
Strength: Tackling. Derek Burrell doesn't miss a
stop, while Stevon Moss and Cedrick Maxwell are top playmakers. These
three have been around long enough to form one of the MAC's best
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: Even with the Buck position being more of
a defensive end than a linebacker, this is a great group with
experience, size, and big-hitting ability. Derek Burrell has been a
major factor over the last few years and is almost certain to hit the
100-tackle mark. Cedrick Maxwell and Stevon Moss, who's now healthy,
will also combine for over 150 stops. There's depth and talent waiting
in the wings.
Projected Starters: Step one is trying to replace
speedy corner Jack Williams, who was second on the team with 93 tackles
and led the way with three interceptions. Junior Kirk Belgrave
will now step in and be a regular starter making 24 tackles and two
broken up passes in a backup role. Phenomenally athletic with 6-1,
197-pound size, he should be a steady tackler. The key will be his play
when the ball is in the air; he needs to start picking off passes.
On the other side will be 6-0, 196-pound senior Rico Murray, who
has started 21 games over the course of his career seeing time at both
safety and corner. A great tackler, he finished third on the team with
75 stops and led the way with nine broken up passes. He has it all;
size, speed, and safety strength. Jack Williams might have been the star
of the secondary last year, and now it should be Murray as he's expected
to once again be one of the team's steadiest players.
6-2, 200-pound sophomore Dan Hartman
was one of the stars of spring ball last
year and came through with a nice years making 35 tackles in a part-time
role. He'll take over at strong safety for Fritz Jacques and he should
be one of the team's bigger hitters now that he has a full-time job. A
good athlete, he could play free safety if needed.
Will Johnson got four starts as a true freshman and finished with
27 tackles and two tackles for loss even though he missed a little time
with a concussion. The sophomore has good 6-0, 200-pound size and
excellent speed, but his real strength is his tackling ability. He
didn't miss much of anything in high school and showed great potential
last season. Now he should shine with an expanded role at free safety,
but he needs to prove he can make plays against the pass. If nothing
else, he's going to hit like a ton of bricks.
Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Brian
Lainhart was the starter for most of last year finishing fifth on
the team with 63 tackles and two interceptions with three broken up
passes, but he had problems with neck and shoulder injuries and missed a
little bit of time late in the year. The big question was whether or not
he could be consistent tackler and he answered that with a big yet. Good
against the pass, he's a good strong safety who'll combine with Dan
Hartman in the rotation.
Junior Greg Keys was supposed to be one of the team's star
rushing options early last year but was moved to his more natural safety
spot after injuries hit the secondary. At 6-1 and 215 pounds with
tremendous speed, he didn't see any time after getting just two carries.
He has the skills and athleticism to be a major player behind Will
Johnson at free safety.
Junior Danny Sadler is a serviceable corner who made 31 tackles
as a reserve. He's not a great pass defender, but he can be a spot
starter if needed and be a decent second corner. He's not a No. 1
coverman by any stretch, but he's a great backup for both corner spots.
Waiting in the wings is top recruit Josh Pleasant who was an
absolute steal for the Golden Flashes. A 5-10, 185-pound speed corner
who could see time as a kick returner, he's a good tackler who
could also be used on offense from time to time. He's a major-league
athlete who needs to get into the mix sooner than later.
Watch Out For ... the strong safety combination. Dan
Hartman and Brian Lainhart might each be good enough get on the field at
the same time, and at the very least they should each be fresh in a nice
Strength: Tackling. The entire secondary can pop
and all four spots will come up with the tackle as the last line of
defense against the run. The safeties can blow up receivers, and the
corners are big enough to be physical.
Weakness: Interceptions. Jack Williams came up with three of the
team's nine picks. The rest of the secondary didn't do much to take it
away, and for a team that needs positive momentum, especially on
offense, the defense has to be more active at attacking the ball when
it's in the air.
Outlook: There was a drop-off after a sensational
2006, but it's not like the secondary was too bad considering there were
a ton of injuries and plenty of young players getting their feet wet.
There's no replacing Jack Williams, but Rico Murray is a great corner
who should be a star and the sophomore safeties should grow into special
defenders over the next few years.
Projected Starters: Junior Nate Reed has
turned into a major weapon hitting 18 of 24 kicks showing off a great
leg with a 52-yard bomb against Central Michigan. He struggled a little
bit with his consistency missing five field goals inside the 40, but he
was 5-of-6 from beyond 40 with the one miss coming from 48.
The punting game was among the worst in America finishing second-to-last
with a net average of 30.54 yards per kick. Junior Jake Kilroy
averaged 36.6 yards per boot, and while he didn't show off that much of
a leg, he put 15 inside the 20 and forced 17 fair catches. This is his
third year as the punter, and he'll do more of the same.
A punt returner needs to be found to replace the mediocre Jon Drager
while more is needed from an average kickoff return game from Derek
McBryde and Alan Vanderink.
Watch Out For ... Reed to get more chances. He had
too many mid-range misses overall, but most of them came in the Central
Michigan loss. Even so, he's too good and has too much of a leg to not
get more deep shots.
Strength: Reed and kickoff returns. Reed's deep
leg is a godsend for an offense that doesn't have much of a passing
game, while Alan Vanderink averaged 22.3 yards per kickoff return last
Weakness: Punting average and punt returns. Considering KSU is a
running team and field position is a must, the punting game can't
average 30.54 yards per kick again and more than 5.96 yards per punt
return is a must.
Outlook: There are plenty of veterans returning,
but the special teams were among the worst in America for the second year
in a row and needs far more pop in the return game and more than just
good placement from punter Jake Kilroy. Fortunately, PK Nate Reed is one
of the team's biggest plusses.