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2010 Central Michigan Preview – Defense
Posted Aug 6, 2010 2010 Preview - Central Michigan Chippewa Defense

Central Michigan Chippewas

Preview 2010 - Defense

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- 2010 Central Michigan Defense | 2010 Central Michigan Depth Chart
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What You Need To Know: The defense was along for the ride when all the success kicked in, but it was a major part of the show last year with the best showing in years. The D won’t be as nasty as last year when it led the MAC in scoring defense and was a rock against the run, but there’s hope for another strong season with a fantastic pair of linebackers in Nick Bellore and Matt Berning to work the back seven around, and veteran tackles Sean Murnane and John Williams back to anchor up front. There are some big replacements needing to be made on the ends and all four starters are gone from the secondary, but the new faces should be solid with a little bit of time.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Nick Bellore, 132
Sacks: Nick Bellore, Matt Berning, 3
Interceptions: Dannie Bolden, Nick Bellore, 2

Star of the defense: Senior LB Nick Bellore
Player who has to step up and be a star: Sophomore DE Darryll Stinson
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore CB Lorenzo White
Best pro prospect: Bellore
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bellore, 2) DT Sean Murnane, 3) LB Matt Berning
Strength of the defense: Linebacker, Run Defense Up The Middle
Weakness of the defense: Pass Rush, Line Size

Defensive Line

Projected Starters: The anchor of the line, and the defense, will be the underappreciated John Williams, a fireplug of a 6-0, 280-pound junior nose tackle who made 29 tackles and did a nice job of getting into the backfield with 2.5 sacks an 5.5 tackles for loss. A big run stopper, he has nice lateral quickness and works better as a one-gap tackle where he gets to fly through the hole. The Miami native could’ve gone to Miami or Tennessee, and he’s just now starting to reach his potential.

Back again at his defensive tackle spot is 6-1, 266-pound senior Sean Murnane, a long-time starter who earned third-team all-star honors last year after starting every game. He’s a bit undersized and he gets beaten on, but he’s active making 49 tackles with 3.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss last year, and now he’s up to 120 career stops with 5.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. Extremely quick, he’d be better as a 3-4 end and holds up well on the inside.

Trying to take over for all-star pass rushing terror Frank Zombo on the outside will be Darryll Stinson, a 6-6, 254-pound sophomore who was hurt all of last year with a pinched nerve and just now is getting his chance to show what he can do. Very big with a ton of upside, he might not be Zombo as a consistent pass rusher right away, but he could come close to getting six sacks with his combination of size and quickness.

Caesar Rodriguez is only 6-2 and 224 pounds, but the former linebacker is extremely quick and should quickly become a top pass rusher. While he’s not a top-shelf talent and there’s a limited upside against the run, he could fill a role as a one-trick pony and become a regular in the backfield.

Projected Top Reserves: On the smallish line, 6-1, 300-pound Daniel Jackson needs to literally play a huge role to help stuff things up. Good on the move and with the potential to get into the backfield on a semi-regular basis, he saw a little time in eight games and made seven tackles. Now he’ll do even more in a rotation with Sean Murnane.

Will Schwarz came to CMU as a good linebacker prospect but will work on the end. The 6-5, 226-pound redshirt freshman isn’t all that big, but he’s very smart and has a world of upside with his athleticism and the room to get a lot bigger. Considering Stanford and Michigan State wanted him, he’s a great prospect for the Chippewas.

With basketball player athleticism and great toughness, 6-4, 231-pound sophomore Jason Chomic will get a look on the nose. He’s not going to be able to play for long as a run stopper, but he could be used on third downs to add more of an interior pass rushing option.

Watch Out For … Stinson and Rodriguez. It’s asking a lot to immediately replace all-stars like Frank Zombo and Larry Knight on the outside, but Stinson and Rodriguez are quick, young, and potentially fantastic.
Strength: The tackles. They aren’t that huge, but they’re active and productive. Murnane is a sure-thing all-star while Williams is growing into a good producer.
Weakness: Size. There isn’t any. This hasn’t always been a problem, but there aren’t any space-eaters outside of Jackson to count on against the bigger, power running teams.
Outlook: The line didn’t do enough to make plays in the backfield, finishing 100th in tackles for loss, but held up well against the run by not getting too aggressive and trying to lock things up on the inside. Murnane and Williams are going to be great, but the key will be the ends with Stinson and Rodriguez needing to come up with big years for the overall defensive drop-off to be minimal.
Unit Rating: 5


Projected Starters: 6-1, 241-pound senior Nick Bellore has been a machine since taking over a starting spot making 382 tackles with 25.5 tackles for loss in the last three years, and leading the way with 132 tackles, three sacks, and 13 tackles for loss as the leader and first-team All-MAC performer. But he did it on the weakside where he was allowed room to rumble, and now he’ll move to the middle where he can use his range and his smarts to potentially have even more influence. A rock of a playmaker, he’s great at eating up everything that comes his way and has good timing when it comes to getting into the backfield.

With Bellore potentially making the move inside, senior Matt Berning is expected to shine on the weakside after spending last year in the middle. The 6-0, 232-pounder is smaller than Bellore and could be a better fit with more space to operate. He finished second on the team last season with 108 tackles with three sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss, and he was terrific against the pass breaking up seven passes. The former foreign exchange student from Germany took a little while, but he knows what he’s doing. Very smart and very tough, he picked the sport up playing for the Dusseldorf Panthers and played for the German National team three years ago.

Junior Armond Staten isn’t all that big at 6-1 and 211 pounds, but he’ll have to play large taking over for Tim Brazzell on the strongside. Staten worked mostly on special teams last season finishing with 14 tackles on the year, but he’s ultra-athletic and has the potential to shine as a pass rusher. He’s not going to be a rock against the run, but he’ll chase down everything.

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Mike Petrucci has been a nice backup for the last few years and can move where needed to do even more. Working in the middle behind Nick Bellore, he’ll be a bigger part of the rotation but could end up on the strongside. At 6-2 and 235 pounds, he has decent size compared to the rest of the CMU corps, and he has decent experience making 20 tackles last year and 36 over the last two. He has always been a great practice player, and now it has to translate more to the field.

6-3, 229-pound sophomore Alex Smith got a little work in as a true freshman seeing time in every game, mostly on special teams, making 11 tackles with a broken up pass. He mostly got on the field in blowouts, but he’s good enough to do far more with great athleticism and form tackling ability on the weakside.

Shamari Benton is a 6-0, 201-pound redshirt freshman with a ton of upside. He might be way too small, but he’ll be active in the rotation on the strongside. Size is the only thing that kept him from being recruited by the bigger schools, but as a high schooler he made everything happen when he was on the field. He’ll someday move to the weakside where he can do more in pass coverage.

Watch Out For … Staten. With Bellore and Berning taking all the attention and all the work away, Staten won’t have to do much more than simply not screw things up. Tim Brazzel only made 39 tackles on the strongside last year, and Staten should be able to blow that away.
Strength: Bellore and Berning. The Chippewas have two linebackers with a combined 591 career tackles with 39 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks. Bellore is a sure-thing all-star and Berning should be in the hunt.
Weakness: A sure-thing third linebacker. The depth isn’t experience and Staten only has 20 career tackles. Development of the depth will be vital.
Outlook: For yet another year, as long as Bellore and Berning are healthy and being Bellore and Berning, the run defense will be solid. There could be more tackles for loss from the entire corps, but Bellore will do his part. Now it’s up to the depth to get better in a hurry and for Staten to come up with a big season.
Unit Rating: 5.5


Projected Starters: Three starters need to be replaced with the biggest loss at corner where all-star Josh Gordy was the team’s top defensive back. Now it’ll be up to senior Vincent Agnew to be a steadying force after seeing starting time in two games in place of Gordy and finishing with 35 tackles and five broken up passes. The 5-10, 198-pounder was the defensive MVP of the GMAC Bowl after blocking a field goal in overtime and he has the speed and quickness to a be the No. 1 corner who comes up with most of the big plays.

Lorenzo White is the son of the famous father of the same name, and now he’s going to take over one of the corner jobs and should lock down the spot for the next three seasons. Extremely fast, he’ll have no problem staying with the speedier corners, but now he needs time after working mostly last year as a special teamer making two tackles.

After spending most of last year as a nickel and dime back and a spot starter at free safety, senior Bobby Seay will be one of the team’s top tacklers now that he gets a full-time job. At 5-11 and 186 pounds he has decent size and he has been productive, finishing fourth on the team with 60 tackles last season and with 168 stops over the last two years. Now, the one-time big prospect who could’ve gone anywhere has the potential to be a major star with tremendous range and speed to go along with his experience.

5-9, 193-pound sophomore Jahleel Addae will push incumbent Dannie Bolden for the starting strong safety job. Used some as a kick returner, Addae also turned into an excellent backup safety making 26 tackles. One of the teams’ fastest players, he should be all over the field and he should be disruptive. He showed what he could do in the GMAC Bowl with seven tackles and a big forced fumble.

Projected Top Reserves: 5-11, 197-pound junior Dannie Bolden should fill in as a top nickel and dime defender when he’s not working at free safety. The starter for 13 games last year at strong safety, he finished with 51 tackles with two interceptions. While he could end up getting back his starting gig if he can make more big plays, he’ll be used mostly as a fifth defensive back and a top backup for several spots. He’s steady, but he’s not spectacular.

Sophomore LaVarus Williams was supposed to play a big role last season in nickel and dime packages, and while he was fine making 13 tackles with an interception, he didn’t explode. One of the team’s fastest players, he’ll see time at corner in a rotation with Lorenzo White, but at 5-11 and 204 pounds he has the potential to move to safety.

JUCO transfer Anthony Hollis was brought in to see action right away. A ball-hawker who was an all-star high school player before going to Grand Rapids CC, he’s 5-10 and 186 pounds with speed. He’ll be used as a jack-of-all-trades but should shine brightest at corner where he can use his 4.5 wheels the best.

Watch Out For … the secondary to not be all that bad. There might be a bit of gloom and doom after losing three key starters and with Bolden likely a top backup, but the production should be there for a defensive backfield with great upside and potential.
Strength: Speed. CMU’s former coaching staff did its part when it came to stocking the shelves with athletes. It might take a little while, but this should grow into a nice secondary.
Weakness: Interceptions. The front seven doesn’t generate much of a pass rush, so it’ll be hard for the secondary to come up with too many big plays. The returning DBs accounted for just three interceptions last year.
Outlook: The secondary will turn out to be fine. Yeah, four starters are gone, but Addae and Seay are good enough to step in at safety and be more than fine, while White is a promising corner who could be the best the program has had in years.
Unit Rating: 5

Special Teams

Projected Starters: Redshirt freshman Richie Hogan has to step in for the solid Andrew Aguila, who connected on 17-of-23 field goals and 55-of-57 extra points. Hogan has a good enough leg to be tried out from 45 yards or so and can be used as a punter if needed. Recruited by some big schools like Nebraska and Oregon State, he was a good get for the Chippewas.

Senior punter Brett Hartmann is big and has a huge leg, but he followed up a nice sophomore year with a rough junior campaign averaging just 38.4 yards per punt. On the plus side, he put 19 inside the 20 and only allowed eight returns.

Strong safety Jahleel Addae and wide receiver Cody Wilson are the best options to try to replace an all-timer of a returner, Antonio Brown, who averaged 22.1 yards per kickoff return and 13.5 yards per punt return. Both Addae and Wilson are explosive and should be solid if they get the chance.

Watch Out For … Hogan to be solid. The Chippewas have several kicking options to get chances at the job opening, but Hogan is the most talented of the bunch.
Strength: Hartmann. CMU might have been 83rd in the nation in net punting, but that’s a bit misleading considering there weren’t that many returns and Hartman did the job of keeping away from the big return. This is his third year as the starter.
Weakness: Antonio Brown. You don’t just replace a guy who had a career average of 15.5 yards per punt return with three touchdowns and averaged 23.1 yards per kickoff return with two scores. Brown ended his career with a total of 3,435 total return yards.
Outlook: CMU had a big advantage on special teams over the last few years, but there’s going to be some changes to deal with in the return game and in the placekicking. Things will be fine, but the special teams won’t be elite right away.
Unit Rating: 6.5

- 2010 Central Michigan Preview | 2010 Central Michigan Offense
- 2010 Central Michigan Defense | 2010 Central Michigan Depth Chart
- Central Michigan Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006