Each day, I’ll post a blog with all the nuts-and-bolts information about a position and many of the quotes I’ve collected. The next morning, we’ll run a feature story on the position in the newspaper.
Today: Defensive line
Here is the newspaper story.
DEFENSIVE LINE ROSTER
53 Beau Martin, 6-2, 258, R-Sr.
32 Rondell McNair, 6-2, 242, R-Jr.
97 Austin Silsby, 6-3, 221, R-Fr.
14 Kaleb Hill, 6-1, 229, Fr.
33 Gabe Perez, 6-4, 231, So.
8 Kamalei Correa, 6-3, 247, So.
54 Mat Boesen, 6-4, 219, R-Fr.
69 Tyler Horn, 6-5, 273, Sr.
90 Justin Taimatuia, 6-0, 287, Sr.
58 Robert Ash, 6-3, 286, R-Jr.
98 Antoine Turner, 6-1, 290, R-Jr.
55 Tutulupeatau Mataele, 6-3, 294, R-Jr. (ineligible this year)
40 Armand Nance, 6-0, 301, Jr.
96 Elliot Hoyte, 6-4, 271, R-So.
94 Sam McCaskill, 6-3, 250, R-So.
50 Nick Terry, 6-3, 282, R-Fr.
99 Dereck Boles, 6-2, 294, Fr.
48 David Moa, 6-3, 249, Fr.
92 Paul Semons, 6-3, 249, Fr.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Kamalei Correa, 6-3, 247, So.: Made 12 tackles as a true freshman. That experience has helped him make big strides this offseason.
Gabe Perez, 6-4, 231, So.: Was a major factor in November and December as a true freshman, finishing with 29 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Mat Boesen, 6-4, 219, R-Fr.: Recruited to play the former staff’s version of nickel, he slid to stud end when the new staff made the nickel more of a defensive back.
Tyler Horn, 6-5, 273, Sr.: Former end has made a successful transition to tackle, where he made 44 stops last season.
Sam McCaskill, 6-3, 250, R-So.: Moved inside from end this fall. Like Horn, his quickness gives him an edge on the interior.
Armand Nance, 6-0, 301, Jr.: Only returning starter on the defensive line tied for eighth on the team with 51 tackles last season, including four for loss.
Antoine Turner, 6-1, 290, R-Jr.: Junior college transfer may have to play a big role against Ole Miss, depending on Taimatuia’s status.
OR Justin Taimatuia, 6-0, 287, Sr.: Has missed most of fall practice with an injury. He made 29 tackles as a newcomer in 2013.
Beau Martin, 6-2, 258, R-Sr.: Strong pass rusher wants to improve against the run and lead the defensive front this season. He recorded four sacks last year, second-most on the team.
Gabe Perez, 6-4, 231, So.: Plays end and stud. His position likely will depend on where he’s needed more.
Rondell McNair, 6-2, 242, R-Jr.: Junior college transfer started to blossom two weeks into fall camp.
Overview: The Broncos have six solid, returning players on the line — Martin, Nance, Horn, Correa, Perez and Taimatuia — but no stars. They’ll need a couple playmakers to emerge. “We’ve got a lot of guys who have played football here in this conference,” defensive line coach Steve Caldwell said. “And what they have to do is they have to take that next step to that next level. We have to find somebody in there.” The Broncos also need at least four more linemen to emerge to round out the depth chart. The leading contenders so far are Turner, McNair, Boesen, McCaskill and tackle Elliot Hoyte. “We have more kids on scholarship on the defensive line than any place I’ve ever been,” Caldwell said.
Key to success: The Broncos need to stay fairly healthy with those six returning players — already, that’s been a problem — and would like to develop a pass rusher or two who can cause problems for opponents, perhaps Martin or Perez. But with the experience and talent in the back seven, the defense probably can be successful if this group just executes assignments. “I want to dominate the line of scrimmage,” Caldwell said. “I want them to have to block us twice.”
Reason for concern: The line lacks the type of player that offenses have to alter their game plans for. And if this is going to be a group that relies more on technique and assignment-sound play than sheer talent, the inexperience on the back half of the depth chart could prove problematic.
Star player: Nance has the best track record, but the star of this line is going to be the guy who can hit the quarterback consistently. Given the glowing reviews of Correa, he seems like the best candidate. “He’s playing fast,” Caldwell said. “He understands the defense. I’m really excited about where he is right now.”
Breakout performer: Turner has terrific upside at nose tackle. He’s 6-foot-1, 290 pounds and athletic. He is the recruit who dealt with homelessness at different times during his stay at Fullerton College and Boise State provided him room and board at the end of his junior college career. Caldwell said on National Signing Day that he was expecting big things early. That hasn’t changed.
Newcomer to watch: Turner and McNair need to contribute right away as junior college transfers. Another guy to watch: Boesen. The former linebacker has started to get comfortable at stud end. He’s a good fit there because of his length and athleticism. “Mat Boesen has really had a great camp,” Caldwell said. “I’ve been excited about him.”
— Perez on the competition with Correa and Boesen at stud: “It’s been getting tough on the coaches to decide who’s going to play because we’re all playmakers.”
— Perez on his success late last season: “I just kept looking at the playbook, learning the playbook, and they put me in and I made plays. At first I was really nervous, but once you start playing, it’s just football. I’ve been playing my entire life. You get used to it.”
— Perez on the difference he feels this year: “I won’t be thinking, ‘Am I going to produce? Am I going to do this?’ It’s just going in there and playing.”
— Caldwell on Turner and McNair: “Antoine is catching on probably a little faster than McNair has. Rondell, for the first time (Tuesday) morning, I saw a little bit of that athletic ability coming out, so he didn’t have to think all the time. But I’ve been really happy with those two guys.”
— Caldwell on McCaskill: “Sam’s added some spark in the middle because of his great quickness and good technique, like I thought he would.”
— On the line as a whole: “I feel better right now about the guys on the edge being a little more consistent than the guys in the middle.”
—Hoyte, Robert Ash and Nick Terry are all pushing for playing time at tackle. At the beginning of camp, Caldwell said Hoyte needed to play with more confidence. “We’re talking about being strong and physical at the point of attack,” he said. “Well, he’s done everything in the summer to get there. Now I’ve got to see if he’s going to be that physical, dominant guy that we want him to be inside.”
— Caldwell: “We know for us to be a great defense, it starts up front.”
— Defensive coordinator Marcel Yates on the line: “They’re getting better. We’re good against the run right now and they’re stout. We have a fast line and we have some depth there.”
— Horn: “There’s always pressure on the defensive line and the offensive line just because it’s the core of the team. We’ve got guys that are stepping up and guys that last year maybe didn’t play but are going to play this year and guys that played last year who are going to be better this year.”
— Beau Martin feature
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