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    Defensive Line, Pre-Spring

    Second in the Series.

    09 Defensive Line
    Based on last seasonís horrid defensive performance, the defensive line, most especially defensive tackle, is the center of concern for most people for the upcoming season. Iíd have to say that, at least to some degree, the worry is a little misdirected, not the least because the other two defensive units were equally atrocious. Then thereís the fact that itís defensive end, specifically the strongside, that Iím by far the most concerned about, since graduation entirely cleared out not merely the two deep, but the entire three deep at the position.

    As a matter of fact, compared to some areas, Iím practically sanguine about defensive tackle. Sure, some people will protest that we were gashed right up the middle at timesóbut really, not all that often. Where we were gashed and hemorrhaging was in pass defenseóbut Iíll get to that. Why Iím not terribly concerned is A. we return six players at defensive tackle, B. the former staff was planning to sign one defensive tackle, and C. the current staff signed only one defensive tackle (and he isnít going to be an immediate impact player), and D. I like those six returning defensive tackles. Yes, I know that some people will say, "Well, where were they last year?" Simple answer, four of them were either fighting injuries or redshirting, and one was a true freshman. The other you should have noticed doing some very nice things the latter half of the season.

    Iíll also point out something that Chizik said early last Fall. He may have Chizzed us, but he does know defense. He pointed out that the key to stopping the run is the triumvirate of the defensive tackles and middle linebackeróand as much as the base talent, the experience is crucial. As we saw, midway through the season, when the light clearly clicked on for junior Nate Frere. The other guys may not have that on-field experienceóyetóbut the talent is there. The experience is coming, and in the hard school. I think weíll see a lot of lights coming on as the season progresses.

    Oh, and lastly Iíll address the concerns of some people that the defense needs a huge run stopper. I canít speak for the philosophy of the Burnhams and I donít know just how much stamp Paul Rhoads put on Auburnís defense in a single year. However, I do know that at Pitt and USF their defenses were attacking units, which means defensive tackle more like OUís Tommie Harris, who played around 6í3 280, than the hulking brutes who wait for the action to come to them.
    Edit: Since Burnham senior has said that he likes attacking defenses, somehow I don't think that includes the big, immobile run stuffers.

    Nate Frere 6í1" 290 Senior
    You could practically see the light literally coming on over his head as Nate suddenly began regularly spending time in opponentís backfields over the latter part of the season. If someone was making a tackle for a loss, you would see this big guy there, all over it. Prior to the season, he dropped something like twenty-five pounds, and that served him well. As the only senior, and the one guy with some real success inside returning, Nate is going to be a great anchor for the Cyclone defense to build around.

    Bailey Johnson 6í3" 285 Junior
    Some people attribute last seasonís struggles inside to Baileyís loss, and itís true that going into last season, along with Frere he was the most experienced returneeóhowever scantly experienced that might have been, seeing minutes as a reserve through his freshman year. Then of course, he spent almost all of last season injured. Still, at full health, heíll be one of the building blocks of this team. An explosion similar to that of Frereís a year ago certainly isnít out of the question and would be an immense asset for this defense.

    Austin Alburtis 6í2" 285 Junior
    Austin is one of those guys Iíve loved the potential of since I saw the video of his high school career. A linebacker at the time, the young man could run to the ball, and he could hit with authority, just swarming ballcarriers. It wasÖawesome. Unfortunately, a knee injury cost him his senior year, and Austin spent his redshirt season rehabbing. Then he was injured again as a redshirt frosh, and fought nagging injuries last fall. That said, if he has finally shaken the injury bug, I think weíre going to have a player on our hands. Iíll also note that when full healthy, I think he runs well enough to be a candidate to help out at strongside end, should that prove to be a necessity.

    Jerrod Black 6í0" 285 Sophomore
    Hereís another guy that makes me smile. Yes, heís undersized, but from what Iíve seen, including the Spring game a year ago, he has a little something the other defensive tackles lack, a bit of burst, first step quickness, some real explosion. The potential to be a special player. This defense can use every drop of the ability to wreak havoc that it can get.

    Stephon Ruempolhamer 6í3" 290 Soph
    Played a lot early in the í08 campaign, then faded down the stretch, as many freshmen do. After a year of Strength and Conditioning work, not to mention coaching in technique, the Flying Dutchman is due for a comeback. Iím really looking forward to seeing what this big guy can do over the next three years.

    Jake McDonough 6í5" 275(?) Freshman
    The former staff happily plunked McDonough in at defensive tackle and sat back to watch him fill out, and heís really the only tackle with potentially dominating size. Or maybe I should make that, "the only potential tackleÖ", for who knows, the new staff might flip him back to end out of sheer need. Still, height and long arms offer another dimension to a defensive lineman, wherever he plays. Iím not sure if heíll play a lot as a redshirt freshman, but heís got almost as much experience on the field as any player not named Frere.

    Kyle Slifka 6í2" 275 Junior
    Iím going to toss in walkon Kyle Slifka for one reason. And no, not "just because I can". Based on what I saw in the Spring Game last year, he has a little quickness, and could be another candidate to slide over and help out at strongside defensive end.

    Walter Woods 6í0" 275 Freshman
    I like Walter Woods, I really do, even if his listed height might be a bit of a stretch. However, when I think about it, and add up "guy who played middle linebacker in high school" with "six scholarship defensive tackles ahead of him", I have to think that there is a really good chance that he redshirts. Not that thatís a bad thing, as Frereís spot in the playing rotation would be available when heís ready to play.

    Rush End
    Rashawn Parker 6í0" 255 Senior
    One of the mysteries on this team throughout his career has always been Rashawn Parker. Despite his lack of height, he has always been an excellent athlete who runs well, but production hasnít quite matched capability. That might have changed slightly as last season progressed, as Rashawn seemed to spend more time in the middle of the action and actually made a couple of key tackles-for-loss, but I donít think that heíll ever be the big pass rusher. Still, heís a senior, he has almost as much experience as itís possible to have on this defense, playing all four years, and heís in a position of leadership.

    Chris Lyle 6í3" 250 Senior
    Now, this guy has the pass rush tools that Iíve been looking for, and I wish that the rest of the defense had been more stable, because his sack total could have been much higher than the five that he wrapped up with. That said, Chris needs to ramp up his overall game, because as nice as it is to rotate two competent players, it would be nice if one of them has a well rounded game and can excel in either phase. Still, for this season, rush end at this stage is the one that least concerns me.

    Roosevelt Maggitt 6í2" 245(?) Freshman
    Hereís something that Cyclone fans arenít used to, an actual quality three deep on defense. Rosey wasnít a blip on the recruiting radar before Signing Day, but throughout two-a-days, we kept hearing mentions that in drills he had made a play. Then through the season, as he redshirted, he was occasionally mentioned by the coaches as a guy who could get to the quarterback, and that he was putting on weight quickly. Well, I suppose that weíll see just how much that pass rush ability had to do with the caliber of the tackles he was facing in practice, but if he really has some burst, Iím sure that Paul Rhoads will find a place for at least a situational pass rusher.

    Be wary, though, for if strongside end is a gaping hole this Fall due to graduation, in í10 rush end will be nearly as bad, with Parker and Lyle both graduating. Guess where Rhoads and Company will be recruiting furiously over the next year? Speak of the DevilÖ

    Strongside End
    Öis currently the biggest hole on the defense. With one player back, and no January enrollees, Spring ball is going to be a scramble. The good thing is that the one scholarship player returning at the position is going to get a lot of personal attention from the coachesóthe bad thing is that he needs it.

    Cleyon Laing 6í3" 255(?) Freshman
    Iíve talked about "green as grass" before, but with Cleyon Laing, itís literally a whole new ballgame. Coming from Canadian football, not only the rules, but the field and customs are entirely different, so he has all of that atop all of the normal adjustments of a freshman, coming from high school to college. The former staff said that it was usual for a Canadian player to adapt to the American game in a year, well, when Spring ball kicks off, Cleyon will have had about half of that. Remember, due to Canadaís late academic year and/or problems with the Clearing House, he wasnít on campus until just before school began. That said, when Spring drills kick off, all attention will be focused solely on Cleyon. Because there is nobody else.

    Oh sure, they could switch someone to the strongside, and probably will. As a matter of fact, itís a physical necessity, and Iíve mentioned possible candidates to help out. But with a new staff, do you disrupt Parker or Lyleís adaptation to a new coach to flip sides, especially when more help is arriving this Fall? Do you weaken one position to strengthen another? Spring ball will tell us a lot, because if the strongside is fleshed out solely with walkons, it will tell us how serious the staff is about Laing, Taylor Martinóas well as the rest of the positions.

    On the bright side, along with the "year to adjust to the American game", Iíll happily note that Cleyon has been described as a "beast". So if the light clicks on and heís ready for the rigors of the Big XII, so much the better. It looks like heís a player, just another with whom the only question is, how soon?

    Taylor Martin 6í3" 265 Junior
    There are only two things that I donít like about Taylor Martin, and one of them is merely that he wonít be here until Summer, at the earliest. If he has to attend Summer term to graduate his juco, that would be bad, very badóthough Iíve seen nothing to suggest such a possibility. The other thing is a lack of production on the field, though he certainly appears to have plenty of size and athleticism. So the question remains as to whether the problem is a lack of big play ability, or an issue of either scheme or coaching. If either of the latter, we could have a steal. And at the very least, Taylor should fill out the two deep, helping to solidify what could be a major trouble spot. And splitting time effectively with Cleyon could be a very, very good thing for the Cyclones.

    Kurt Hammerschmidt 6í5" 245(?) Freshman
    Ostensibly, Kurtís a tight end, and potentially a great oneómentioned by the old staff as a better downfield receiver even than Collin Franklin. However, what needs must, and strongside end definitely qualifies as "needs". And of course, Hawkeye A.J. Edds was originally signed to play tight end, and heís been anÖokay linebacker.

    Aaron Moore 6í5" 255 Freshman.
    Hey, heís "starting out" here, and I donít write the ******. I think this just shows how desperately the staff wanted another body to play strongside endówhich is also the only reason I listed Hammerschmidt here. And The Hammer will have the advantage of a redshirt and Spring ball, wherever he lines up.


    Last edited by Aclone; 02-27-2009 at 07:44 PM.


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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    I didn't see the Cyclones play much last year so I can't actually disagree with anything you've said, but you'd think that if Frere was that good during the second half of the year, he'd at least have been voted honorable mention all-conference.



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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    Quote Originally Posted by hippiehawk View Post
    I didn't see the Cyclones play much last year so I can't actually disagree with anything you've said, but you'd think that if Frere was that good during the second half of the year, he'd at least have been voted honorable mention all-conference.
    shut up you hawk



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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    Quote Originally Posted by hippiehawk View Post
    I didn't see the Cyclones play much last year so I can't actually disagree with anything you've said, but you'd think that if Frere was that good during the second half of the year, he'd at least have been voted honorable mention all-conference.
    On an atrocious defense?!! Not bloody well likely. Those all conference and all American teams are as much for team success as for individual.

    And in a mere half season, I said "nice", not "great" or "phenomenal". He didn't finish in the top 20 in either sacks or TFL, so even HM all conference would have been a stretch. Double Nick's three sacks and 6.5 tfl over a full season, and we're talking at least HM--on a respectable defense.




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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    It takes one star defensive lineman to make the rest look a lot better (see Tuba in the middle and Kurtis Taylors sack numbers)



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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    Quote Originally Posted by ajk4st8 View Post
    It takes one star defensive lineman to make the rest look a lot better (see Tuba in the middle and Kurtis Taylors sack numbers)
    Kurtis had 5.5 as a junior, and 5.0 as a senior. Chris Lyle had 5.0 as a junior, splitting time.




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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    Aclone, I, for one, really appreciate your time and effort with your early analysis. I wish I was more of a football guru guy. I do know where they line up.
    Thanks again you for your opinions, and all of your hard work.

    When do we get the WR's?

    Go Cyclones


    Last edited by Balrog; 02-27-2009 at 11:24 PM.
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    The old that is strong does not wither,
    Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    J.R.R. Tolkien

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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    Quote Originally Posted by hippiehawk View Post
    I didn't see the Cyclones play much last year so I can't actually disagree with anything you've said, but you'd think that if Frere was that good during the second half of the year, he'd at least have been voted honorable mention all-conference.
    Your opinion does not matter here....



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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    jerk you forgot my roommate!


    he's like 8th string walk on haha



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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    This is definately the area of team that worries me the most, I was very surprised there were not more DL recruited in this class. I know that Taylor Martin was suppose to fill in for the Kurtis Taylor power end, which could happen but I really don't see it. I think like you said there will have to be some moves on the team to add depth to that Power End spot. Does anyone one know what happened to Fabian Brown, I know he as at ICCC last year, but does he really that bad of grade risk or was his skill level that much inflated out of High School, I saw him as a good option for this position. Randy Kellman(Chized) would have been nice to have, maybe McDonough will add depth as well and rotate out occassionally.



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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    Quote Originally Posted by Balrog View Post
    When do we get the WR's?
    Last.

    Quote Originally Posted by jburke View Post
    Randy Kellman(Chized) would have been nice to have, maybe McDonough will add depth as well and rotate out occassionally.
    I don't see Kellman as being Chizzed, so much as doing the Chizzing, since he apparently just up and left. Seems to me he would have helped, though.

    And I have to ask the mods, why is the word referring to the pages an actor reads their lines from on the "censored" list?




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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    Quote Originally Posted by Aclone View Post

    And I have to ask the mods, why is the word referring to the pages an actor reads their lines from on the "censored" list?
    S c r i p t is German for the "f" word. Ask Lucca.



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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    Quote Originally Posted by Aclone View Post
    Last.


    I don't see Kellman as being Chizzed, so much as doing the Chizzing, since he apparently just up and left. Seems to me he would have helped, though.
    Agree with no Chizzing. Kellman has also made some head scratcher decisions after leaving Iowa State. Also he didn't exactly tear it up at the NAIA level before he bolted from his team mid-season.



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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    Quote Originally Posted by Aclone View Post
    And I have to ask the mods, why is the word referring to the pages an actor reads their lines from on the "censored" list?
    Good write-up

    And it's censored because of security, not because of any foul language reasons



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    Re: Defensive Line, PreSpring

    Quote Originally Posted by Bader View Post
    Good write-up

    And it's censored because of security, not because of any foul language reasons
    thanks. On both counts.




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