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2008 Miami University Preview - Defense
Miami LB Joey Hudson
CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Miami (OH) Redhawk Defense
Preview 2008 - Defense
2008 CFN Miami Preview
2008 Miami Offense
2008 Miami Defense
2008 Miami Depth
2007 CFN Miami Preview
2006 CFN Miami
What you need to know: If this isn't
the MAC's best defense, it'll be a close second with almost
everyone returning. Nine regular starters and two with starting
experience are back led by the dynamic linebacking trio of
Clayton Mullins, Joey Hudson and Caleb Bostic. Mullins is the
reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year while Hudson and
Bostic could be first-team all-stars. The defensive line has
size and is great at getting into the backfield, but it needs to
be a bit tighter against the run. The safety tandem of Robbie
Wilson and Jordan Gafford is excellent, while the corners are
just good enough to keep the MU pass defense among the best in
the league. The big key will be stopping the spread offense,
which it didn't do last year against Minnesota, Cincinnati or
Clayton Mullins, 143
Joe Coniglio, 6.5
Interceptions: Joey Hudson, Jeff Thompson, Robbie Wilson, 2
Star of the defense: Senior LB Clayton Mullins
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior NT
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore DT Sean Redwine
Best pro prospect: Senior SS Robbie Wilson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Mullins, 2) Wilson, 3)
LB Caleb Bostic
Strength of the defense: Overall experience, Linebacker
Weakness of the defense:
Run defense, picking off passes
Projected Starters: The tackles were the concern
last year but they came through fine. 6-0, 320-pound junior Martin
Channels has tremendous size on the inside, and while he's used
mainly to clog things up so everyone else can shine, he made several
plays himself with two sack and 5.5 tackles for loss to go along with 22
tackles. With his size he'll be a force to deal with once again on the
Next to Channels will once again be 6-4, 274-pound sophomore Sean
Redwine after making 21 tackles and a sack as a backup who got two
starts in the middle of the year. The former tight end is more of a big,
athletic end than a true tackle, but he's physical. While he'll be part
of a rotation, he'll be the main man from the start and should be a
dangerous threat to consistently get into the backfield.
Senior Joe Coniglio returns to his end spot after earning
all-star honors with 40 tackles with 6.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for
loss. Tackle-strong in a 6-2, 253-pound frame, he's a great all-around
defender who upped his game big time after a mediocre sophomore season.
The former linebacker has a burst off the ball and will be the one
everyone has to gameplan for.
The other end spot is going to be open, but 6-4, 261-pound junior
Travis Craven started eight games last year and had some strong
moments with with 21 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. While
not just a pass rushing specialist, he has the best skills and the most
potential to grow into a consistent presence in the backfield. With all
the attention paid to Coniglio, Craven will have plenty of chances
Projected Top Reserves: Able to provide even more
bulk on the inside is 6-0, 335-pound sophomore Alex Stewart, who
bulked up in a big way over the last year and can play either tackle
spot. He has a little bit of starting time getting the call four times
last season on the nose making 21 tackles and a sack, and now he'll
start out playing behind Redwine at left tackle.
Working on the nose behind Martin Channels will be 6-3, 272-pound junior
Mark Paun, who filled in from time to time and finished with
three tackles in a limited role. With good quickness he should be an
occasional factor in the backfield even though his job will be to hold
up in the middle.
Able to see time at either end spot is sophomore Jordan Stevens,
a promising all-around defender who made 22 tackles and two sacks. At
6-4 and 258 pounds, he's a big player against the run with just enough
athleticism to be a good pass rusher from time to time.
Looking to make more of an impact on the end is 6-2, 239-pound sophomore
Morris Council after making ten tackles, two sacks and 3.5
tackles for loss in his spare time in the rotation. A speed rusher,
he'll be the understudy behind Coniglio before likely taking over
the starting spot next year.
Watch Out For ... the sophomores. This is a veteran
line with three returning starters, and although the top backups are
second year players, they have a little bit of playing time. Stevens and Council could start without much of a hiccup, while
Stewart is a promising tackle who could be the one the line
revolves around in the near future.
Strength: Pass rush. An issue two years ago, it's
now the biggest strength after generating 32 sacks. The linebackers had
something to do with it, but the attacking play of all four line spots,
led by Coniglio on the end, was strong. This year's line should be
even better at getting into the backfield.
Weakness: Consistent run defense. Overall the was good on paper
against the run, but against teams that could move on the ground,
especially those with a spread attack like Central Michigan and
Minnesota, it got blown by.
Outlook: The line was night-and-day better after a
disastrous 2006 with the pass rush helping set the tone for the entire
defense and the interior much stronger than it had been in years. Now
the line has the potential to be dominant with three starters returning,
a fourth with starting experience, and plenty of good backups. It's a
big enough front four to be stronger against the run, while there's
enough athleticism on the outside to form one of the MAC's most fearsome
Projected Starters: The Miami linebacking corps is
loaded, and senior Clayton Mullins is the best of the all-star
trio. The reigning MAC Defensive Player of the Year made a whopping 143
tackles with four sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss from his spot on the
weakside after making 91 stops two years ago. Even though he bulked up
over the last few years, going from a 209-pound prospect to a tight,
quick 241-pound playmaker, he has gotten even better against the pass
breaking up six last season. The ultimate student, he's never out of
position and he's always doing something to make plays.
Even though senior Joey Hudson suffered a knee injury early on,
he gutted it out finishing third on the team with 99 tackles. All over
the place in the middle, he was terrific against the run and managed to
come up with two sacks, eight tackles for loss and two interceptions. At
a good-sized 6-2 and 240 pounds, he's a big presence as the quarterback
of the defense, and there's not a tougher leader in the MAC. Mullins is
the team's best player, but this is Hudson's
Also returning on the strongside will be 6-3, 235-pound junior Caleb
Bostic, who's built a little more like a weakside linebacker but is
great at stuffing the run and handling even the most physical tight
ends. The key will be his health after trying to get over a foot problem
this off-season, and considering his game is mostly about speed and
quickness, he needs to be 100%. He was second on the team with 103
tackles with a sack and 11 tackles for loss, and now he's expected to
blow up and become even more of a star. He knows what he's doing and he
should be more disruptive in the backfield.
Projected Top Reserves: Working behind Hudson
in the middle is 5-11, 230-pound senior Chris Shula, a hard-nosed
tackler who can play any position in the corps and has been a key
special teamer. Best suited for the middle, he'll find a place off the
bench somewhere after making 54 tackles, two sacks and four tackles for
Sophomore Ryan Kennedy made nine tackles and a sack in a limited
role thanks to knee problems, but he's expected to grow into a bigger
role behind Bostic on the strongside. While only 6-1 and 218
pounds, he's a good tackler with excellent athleticism.
6-1, 216-pound sophomore David Davis will see a little time on
the weakside after spending last year on special teams. He could be the
one weak link in the chain if injuries hit the starters early on, but
he'll get more work on defense this season to get him more ready for
next year. Undersized compared to Mullins, he's fast enough to
create his own niche.
Watch Out For ... Bostic. Mullins might be a
near-lock for MAC Defensive Player of the Year and Hudson is the one the
rest of the defense works around, but Bostic could be the one who makes
a great linebacking corps something phenomenal. He already came up with
103 tackles last season, but he could be just scratching the surface of
how good he could become.
Strength: The starting three. There are major BCS
schools who'd love to have Miami's starting trio. These three could play
for just about anyone.
Weakness: Spread offenses. The RedHawk linebacking corps made a
ton of tackles against everyone, but most of the stops were way too far
down the field against offenses with strong running quarterbacks.
There's far too much talent and experience to not be a brick wall this
Outlook: This could be the best unit in the MAC
for any position. It's not a crazy stretch to think all three starters,
Mullins, Bostic and Hudson, could fill the top three
MAC all-star linebacker spots. There's size, experience, toughness, and
a whole bunch of talent. The only downside is a massive drop-off between
the ones and the twos. Shula is a nice player who'll fill in where
needed, but Kennedy and Davis need time, work, and a bit more
bulk on the outside.
Projected Starters: Three of the four starters
from last year's rock-solid pass defense are back. The only replacement
is at corner where junior Wendell Brunson will take over for Jerrid Gaines, who was a good tackler and a decent cover man. Brunson
got a little starting work in when Gaines was banged up and finished
with 18 tackles with an interception. While he's not the athlete that
Gaines was, he should be more
than effective with a bigger role.
Returning to his starting spot at the other corner is 5-10, 185-pound
junior Jeff Thompson, who was sixth on the team in tackles with
58 to go along with two interceptions and three broken up passes. While
he's not flashy, he's a good, sound defender who has worked his way into
the starting role and isn't going to let it go for another few years. He
hits like a safety and covers like a corner.
Senior Robbie Wilson could be the MAC's best all-around defensive
back. At 6-0 and 204 pounds with phenomenal speed and a nose for the
ball, he's one of the nation's most active strong safeties (called the
Apache at MU) finishing with 75 tackles, two interceptions, and a
team-leading seven broken up passes. He's worked hard to improve where
needed. Playing the pass was an issue going into last year, and he
turned into a ball-hawker. Getting bigger and stronger was key before
this year, and he bulked up a bit. He likely projects as a possible free
safety at the next level, and there'll be a place for him.
6-0, 206-pound junior Jordan Gafford is back at free safety after
finishing fourth on the team with 89 tackles, an interception and two
tackles for loss. He's a big hitter and can move with great range and
excellent potential. While he had some big shoes to fill replacing
all-star Joey Card, he did a great job and will now be in the mix of
All-MAC honors of his own.
Projected Top Reserves: Working with Wendell
Brunson at the open corner spot is sophomore Brandon Stephens, a
good-looking prospect with terrific speed and great potential. He made
14 tackles as a reserve last year and will see plenty of work somewhere
in the secondary.
Looking for playing time
somewhere among the safeties, most likely at strong safety, is
Peris Edwards, a speedy sophomore who worked his way on
the field enough to make 17 tackles as a reserve. He'll battle
with sophomore DeAndre Gilmore, a 6-1, 215-pound hitter,
for playing time. Gilmore made seven tackles with a sack last
Watch Out For ... Wendell Brunson to blossom. A good
talent with a little experience, he has the skills to turn into
an All-MAC producer if teams test him on a regular basis. While
he's not a special athlete, he's good enough to hold up if
everyone stays away from Jeff Thompson on the other side.
Strength: Safeties. Robbie Wilson is special and
Jordan Gafford is a steady, strong playmaker who could turn in a
first-team All-MAC season. These two are great against the run
and will be phenomenal when the ball is in the air.
Weakness: Deep reserves. There are six backups with just enough
playing time to not be starting from scratch, but there will be
a big drop-off early on if any of the four starters go down. MU
can rotate the corners, but there's no replacement for the star
power at safety.
Outlook: The pass defense has been statistically
phenomenal over the last few years, but that's partly because
everyone ran the ball. This group put in a good season with the
MAC's second best pass defense, and now it should be even more
effective with a tremendous safety tandem and two good corners.
There's depth, but it needs to be developed a bit more and
interceptions are a bit of an issue after coming up with just
eight of the team's 11 picks. That's nitpicking; the pass
defense will be solid.
Projected Starters: The placekicking turned out to
better once senior
Nathan Parseghian took over, but it wasn't great as he went from
just being a kickoff specialist to hitting 13 of 20 attempts.
Inconsistent from inside the 40, at least he hit two of three deep shots
and made five field goals in the loss to Ohio. Junior Trevor Cook
had a great freshman season hitting 10 of 13 shots, but he missed five
of his ten attempts last year and showed no mid-to-deep leg.
Senior punter Jake Richardson is among the best in America
averaging 45 yards per kick as he worked better with the coverage team
than he did two years ago and helped the team net 37.3 yards per
attempt. He put 17 inside the 20 and forced eight fair catches, but he
also put ten in the end zone. With a great leg, and plenty of
experience, he should be in for another big season.
The return game was fine, but nothing special. Jamal Rogers and
Chris Givens will handle the kickoff returns, with Rogers leading
the way last year averaging 22.6 yards per try, while receiver Eugene
Harris will deal with the punt returns again after averaging a
pedestrian 9.3 yards per attempt.
Watch Out For ... a battle for the kicking job.
Nathan Parseghian left the door open with his inconsistency, and if
Trevor Cook can show just a little more deep leg, he'll get another
Strength: Richardson. He might not be he the best
in the MAC, considering it's a loaded year for punters, but he'll
average well over 40 yards per kick and should be a weapon once he's
back from a leg injury that kept him down this off-season.
Weakness: Field goal consistency and kick coverage. MU's
kickers missed 12 of 30 attempts, and considering seven games were
decided by seven points or fewer, that could be a problem if there as
many close games this season. Teams averaged a whopping 23.3 yards per
kickoff return on the RedHawks.
Outlook: Everyone is back at every spot with a
kicking battle to be underway all season long while Jake Richardson has
to be the punter he was last year. There's potential for big pop in the
return game, and now it has to happen on a more regular basis.