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2010 Bowling Green Preview – Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 5, 2010


CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Bowling Green Falcon Defense


Bowling Green Falcons

Preview 2010 - Defense


- 2010 Bowling Green Preview | 2010 Bowling Green Offense
- 2010 Bowling Green Defense | 2010 Bowling Green Depth Chart
- Bowling Green Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006

What You Need To Know: The defense was second in the MAC in 2008 and had to go through a major rebuilding job last year. It showed in the results finishing tenth in the league in scoring defense and doing nothing to get into the backfield. However, the coaching staff went hard after defenders in the 2009 recruiting class, and while it might take a while, this could be a stepping-stone for a big 2011. The front four should be the strength with some nice tackles and good potential on the ends, but the senior pass rushers, Angelo Magnone and Darius Smith, have to think about hitting a quarterback at some point. The linebacking corps is young, but led by Dwayne Woods, very promising, while the secondary isn’t nearly as bad as it may appear after losing three key starters. This isn’t going to be pretty at times, but again, this is a learning year so all the athletic underclassmen can figure out what they’re doing.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Keith Morgan, 68
Sacks: Kevin Alvarado, 2.5
Interceptions: Keith Morgan, Adrien Spencer, 1

Star of the defense: Sophomore LB Dwayne Woods
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior DE Darius Smith
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman LB Paul Swan
Best pro prospect: Redshirt freshman DE Jairus Campbell
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Woods, 2) S Keith Morgan, 3) Adrien Spencer
Strength of the defense: Athleticism and Quickness, Tackle
Weakness of the defense: Pass Rush, Linebacker Size

Defensive Line

Projected Starters: Is this the year that Darius Smith becomes a factor? The 6-3, 230-pound senior was supposed to replace All-MAC star Diyral Briggs and become the team’s top new pass rusher, but he only served as a backup making 36 tackles with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss. He’s a speedster with the ability and potential to be a blur on the end, but now he has to produce.

Working on the other side after spending most of last year starting on the left side is senior Angelo Magnone , a decent veteran who made 43 tackles with 2.5 sacks, but at 6-3 and 235 pounds he isn’t all that big and needs to use his quickness to be a regular into the backfield. He doesn’t. While he’s good off the ball and he can get into the backfield from time to time, he hasn’t been nearly disruptive enough over the last two years.

Rising up to become the anchor on the inside was Kevin Alvarado, a 6-2, 274-pound junior who made 28 tackles with 2.5 sacks, but his main job was to hold up and let everyone work around him. While he’s not huge, he’s very smart, very quick, and he has the ability to do even more at either tackle spot or as a 3-4 end. As bad as the line was, he wasn’t necessarily the problem.

6-2, 274-pound sophomore Chris Jones worked as a decent backup early on before taking over the starting job late last year and starting the final three games. He finished the year with 29 tackles with a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss as a true freshman, and he’s a natural leader who should eventually become the main man on the defensive interior. He’s just scratching the surface.

Projected Top Reserves: Since the defensive tackles are light, there needs to be a regular rotation on the inside. That means 6-4, 255-pound sophomore Jordon Roussos should play a bigger role after seeing plenty of time as a reserve and starting against Miami University. Built like an end, he’s tough and he appears ready to make a huge impact after making ten tackles with a tackle for loss.

At 6-5 and 278 pounds, redshirt freshman Jairus Campbell is a very big end who’d be perfect in a 3-4 and will work in a rotation with Angelo Magnone on the outside. A natural pass rusher, he was a good recruit for the program and he could end up moving inside from time to time just to get his size and skills on the field.

Built more like a linebacker than a true end, 6-2, 226-pound redshirt freshman Ronnie Goble will be a pure pass rushing specialist working behind Darius Smith. A dual-threat player in high school who was a great blocker and a terror in the backfield on defense, he could be used on either side or could move to outside linebacker if needed.

Watch Out For … Jones. The play of the tackles this offseason was good enough to allow Nick Torresso to move to the offensive line, and Jones has the potential to be fantastic. He has the talent and the skills to become the line’s best player over the next three years.
Strength: The talent upgrade. The coaching staff targeted defensive linemen in the 2009 recruiting class and there should be a payoff. While the linemen were solid last year when thrown to the wolves, the line play wasn’t great. Now the young players will be the stars up front.
Weakness: Production. The line was the worst in the MAC and 113th in the nation in tackles for loss, and it struggled at getting to the quarterback registering a paltry 21 sacks. The run defense wasn’t much better, finishing 12th in the league allowing 194 yards per game. It still might take a little while to improve.
Outlook: The coaching staff was desperate to come up with something that worked for the depleted line before last year, and it was still a disaster. The pass rush needs someone to emerge as a threat, while Jones and Alvarado have to be rocks on the inside. This is a young line that has several interesting prospects, but the production has to come.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Linebacker

Projected Starters: All three starting linebackers from last year are gone, and that might not be too bad a thing if it means Dwayne Woods can now blossom into the superstar he was supposed to be as last year’s top recruit. At 6-1 and 217 pounds, the sophomore is built like a safety, but he’s a guided missile and a tremendous tackler making 24 stops in a backup role last year. Now he’ll start in the middle and it’ll be a shock if he’s not one of the team’s top two tacklers.

Senior Eugene Fells finally goes from being a top understudy to a starring role on the outside. A great reserve last season, he made 44 tackles with a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss. At 6-1 and 228 pounds, he has good size and he’s quick. A fantastic special teamer over the course of his career, he’ll bring his experience and range to the starting job where he should be a decent pass rusher as well as a top tackler.

Redshirt freshman Paul Swan went from being a good recruit to this year’s starter on the outside. Not big at just 6-1 and 207 pounds, he makes up for his lack of bulk with tremendous wheels. A high school track star who made 261 tackles in his final two years on the football field, he should be an interesting all-around playmaker.

Projected Top Reserves: 5-11, 205-pound senior Calvin Marshall is the team’s most experienced backup linebacker making nine tackles with a tackle for loss in his limited time. Working on the outside, he’s extremely small but very active with a high motor. He’ll need to be a steady regular in the rotation with so many question marks in the corps.

Redshirt freshman Alex Thomas isn’t huge at 6-2 and 225 pounds, but that makes him one of the team’s biggest linebackers on the projected two-deep. A strong tackler in practices with nice range, he has the potential to be a strong reserve in the middle behind Dwayne Woods or he can be used on the outside to be a bigger option against the run.

Watch Out For … Woods. Out of all the prospects brought in for the defensive front seven last year, Woods was the key pickup. While he might not be big, he’ll fly all over the place and should be a statistical superstar.
Strength: Quickness. By design, this is a small group that’s supposed to be able to fly all over the place. The linebackers are supposed to gang tackle and be disruptive, and there will be a rotation to try to hold up against the run. But …
Weakness: Size. This is a really, really small group. It was small last year, but that corps had a bunch of sumo wrestlers compared to this year’s two-deep. Good luck holding up against anyone with any semblance of power.
Outlook: The top three tacklers from last year have to be replaced, but the production will be there by the sheer athleticism and want-to from the new starters. By a plan, the idea is to get everyone moving and sacrifice size for athleticism, and while there might be a few big problems early on, everyone should grow into their roles over the next few years.
Unit Rating: 4.5

Secondary

Projected Starters: The Falcons are hoping that junior Jovan Leacock , a JUCO transfer who walked on to the team as a possible receiver recruit, can shine at safety. A surprise this offseason, he proved to be good enough and rangy enough to potentially be a major playmaker at free safety, and while there will be some major rocky moments, the 5-10, 205-pounder has the athleticism and the talent to grow into the role and come up with a few picks.

Trying to ease in the newcomers to the secondary is veteran strong safety Keith Morgan , a nice tackler who made 68 stops with a sack, an interception, and five broken up passes. At 6-0 and 206 pounds, he’s as big as some of the team’s linebackers and he packs a punch like a much bigger player. He is fine against the pass, but his strength is as a run stopper.

Working again at one corner is rising junior Adrien Spencer , a 6-0, 175-pound playmaker who came up with 52 tackles and an interception return for a score. Physical for his size, he’s good at locking up with the bigger targets and has just enough quickness to handle the speedier ones. He should grow into a fringe all-star candidate.

5-8, 168-pound senior Robert Lorenzi saw his career derailed by a broken leg two years ago. The former JUCO transfer wasn’t the same last year making just three tackles with a tackle for loss in a limited role, but now he appears to be close to normal again and will try to man one spot. Before the injury he had blazing deep speed, but now he’ll have to be savvy. Not physical, he’ll try against the run, but his game is about quickness.

Projected Top Reserves: With one of the safety spots wide open, 6-1, 187-pound sophomore Lane Robilotto will get every chance to take over a job. With the potential to be a pick off artist with good hands and great range, he’s a natural free safety who has to see more of the field after getting minimal work in two games. He’s a smart, promising player who should quickly be a key part of the rotation.

Sophomore Jonathan Davis will work in as a nickel and dime back as well as a backup corner. The 5-11, 182-pounder made one tackle in his limited work, but he’s a quick-cutting corner with just enough size to get by.

If Robert Lorenzi isn’t back to form, redshirt freshman Cameron Truss will see plenty of action right away. The 5-11, 186-pounder is a smart, tough prospect who moves well and has the size to be physical against the run.

Watch Out For … Leacock. An interesting option, he comes off the recruiting scrap heap and became a starting option at safety right away. He’s not all that big and he lacks polish, but he’s an intriguing athlete with good upside.
Strength: The run defense … or lack thereof. The front seven might be so mediocre against the run that teams will stay away from throwing the ball. This was the case throughout last year with just 389 attempts to Bowling Green’s 596, so the hope is that the young prospects will get time to figure out what they’re doing.
Weakness: Top-flight talent. Spencer is a nice-looking corner and Lorenzi should be good if he’s healthy again, but there isn’t any star power. There’s no P.J. Mahone or Jahmal Brown to count on at safety anymore, and the corners are suspect until they can prove themselves against the better passing teams.
Outlook: Considering there wasn’t any pass rush last year, the secondary didn’t do all that bad a job. It’s a ragtag bunch of misfits going into this year with three new starters, but there’s plenty of promise if Leacock isn’t a disaster at one safety spot. The depth needs a lot of seasoning.
Unit Rating: 5

Special Teams

Projected Starters: With Matt Norsic gone, the kicking duties are all up to Jerry Phillips , a nice sophomore prospect who connected on 8-of-13 attempts including a 44-yarder as he split time due to injury. Way too inconsistent, he missed four kicks inside the 40 and got one blocked, but he has a decent leg and good upside to grow into the job over the next three years.

Watch Out For … the return game. Freddie Barnes averaged 9.8 yards per punt return and Roger Williams was the main kickoff returner averaging 21 yards per try. Considering Willie Geter averaged 1.8 yard per punt return and there’s little returning experience on kickoff returns, call this a work in progress.
Strength: Phillips’ upside. He was just good enough as a freshman to hope he can become a steadier option with his returning experience. He has enough range to be tried out once and a while from deep.
Weakness: Returns. Of all the problems on the special teams, the lack of pop from the return game was a particular problem. Averaging eight yards per punt return and 19.5 yards per kickoff return won’t cut it this year with a lesser offense.
Outlook: Considering all the problems and concerns on both sides of the ball, the special teams won’t get the attention they need this year. The return game was awful, the punting job is up for grabs, and the coverage teams were a mess. Falcon special teams were miserable for a few years, were shockingly great in 2008, struggled last year, and could be a big problem this season.
Unit Rating: 4

- 2010 Bowling Green Preview | 2010 Bowling Green Offense
- 2010 Bowling Green Defense | 2010 Bowling Green Depth Chart
- Bowling Green Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006