Thursday, August 31, 2006

Defense preview


I was going to do a full defensive preview, but because of reasons outside of my control (laziness and lack of information) it will be considerably shorter.

What we know

Short answer: almost nothing (except that Stanley Doughty might be the laziest person ever to come through the SEC)

Fred Bennett, the only returning starter, is a bit of a mystery. After his sophomore season in which he appeared poised to turn into a lock down corner one of two things happened last year. Either he was overshadowed by Ko Simpson and Jonathan Joseph or he wasn't doing nearly as good a job as he did a year before. At times he had the amazing ability to not only be soft against the run but also to get caught out of position on play action passes. That being said great seasons often follow mediocre ones (think about the year after a sophomore slump).

The rest of the secondary is anyone's guess. Captain Munnerlyn looked good in early practices but then they were closed to the public. He was later not allowed to practice while the NCAA took its sweet time, so there is no telling where he is. Also he is listed on the depth chart as playing the same position (boundary corner) as started Carlos Thomas. Speaking of which Carlos could do anything. He could still look like a receiver afraid to come up against the run, or he could be the next coming of Sheldon Brown. Expect something in between. As for the safeties, flip a coin because I don't know. They will be young and probably out of position.

The linebacking corps is more of a mystery than the secondary. JUCO transfer Jasper Brinkley appears to be the real deal, but nothing can be surmised until he plays against SEC competition. His play will go further than any other defender's in determining whether our defense will be worth its salt. Freshman Rodney Paulk will get playing time early. He is smaller than most linebackers, but fast. Cody Wells and Marvin Sapp will also play. Again flip a coin about their play, especially early in the season.

The defensive line may have some good surprises. Marque Hall and Nathan Pepper both earned their starting positions from further down in the depth chart through work ethic and talent. This means one of two things: there isn't much talent on the d-line (possible) or these guys are pretty good. Time will tell, but don't judge them on the Mississippi State game since the Bulldog line is quite big and physical. The ends will have Casper Brinkley (Jasper's twin) and Jordin Lindsey (Dustin's twin) seeing a good bit of playing time. I have no idea what to say about these guys. Throw a dart at the dartboard.

The defense will not be the strength it was last year. In fact it could be a real problem. There is some good talent on the depth chart, but it is for the most part very green. If injuries can be avoided, look for them to progress throughout the season.

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