First off, I hate to print retractions, but I did confirmation that Derrick Macon is NOT with the program anymore for reasons undisclosed. That is the final word. I had been told both stories by different sources but D-Mac is no longer with us, so there is that. Anyway, onto the second piece regarding the team, Defense.
Overall: Colby Carthel is known for building defenses and creating turnovers. Every group he has had since he got to Commerce had been solid and had led the conference and in some cases the nation in some vital statistic such as sacks, fumbles caused, fumbles recovered and the such. The turning point in last year’s playoff game was when Ferris State had just scored their second TD of the day and we block their PAT and take it back. That started a 14-0 run that took the Lions into the locker room with a 16-13 lead. Those things happen quite a bit now with the Lions.
Guys like Toni Pulu and Cole Pitts are gone, and those two guys were two key cogs in a fast and hard hitting defense. One thing I noticed last year and mentioned to HC Carthel is that the defense was tackling properly in addition to putting out some pretty nasty hits. He downplayed it out of humility I am sure, but it was pretty obvious to most.
That being said, the big key in terms of replacement will be the defensive line. You don’t replace a Toni Pulu, and Cole Pitts, same deal with him as a defensive backfield guy. It will be interesting to see how much pressure the new D-Line puts on opposing QB’s and how well they penetrate running attacks like Midwestern and Eastern New Mexico.
The Linebacking crew looks to have a pretty positive impact overall in regards to who returns. Cameron Rogers is the guy I expect to have a good year and lead the unit, and as far as the secondary goes, I expect Steven Baker, Danny Huckaby, and Trey Porter to lead the unit. You have 3 solid guys there who will be working hard in the now spread offense happy game of Football to keep points off the board. Again, so much of this is contingent on what to expect on the new teams like Oklahoma Panhandle, UT-Permian Basin, and Western New Mexico. We will see.
My Five Questions Involve the Following:
- Who will be the replacement on the D-Line?
- Who will step up in the Linebacking Crew in the starting roles?
- What younger guys can we see who maybe redshirted or played sparingly make an impact?
- Will the defense be a big play group like they have been for the past 3 years?
- In regards to overall strategy, will we see more things like press coverage against good passing teams and more blitzing, or some “bend but don’t break” strategy.
Bouns: Who will break out this year on defense from the young guys? My pick is Gainesville native and Linebacker Mason Copeland. Saw him in the Spring game and I liked what I saw.