Lets just stick with the D for now. The 2012 LB corps faces two significant losses from the prior season, Alex Shaw and possibly one of the most well-rounded mike-backers the Griz have had ever in Caleb McSurdy. Those are some big shoes to fill.

Those that are returning:

Jordan Tripp (Jr) 6-3.5 232. Tripp got his junior year back and as I’m told is working hard and ready to get back out there. I expect much like Fether last year he’ll not participate in contact drills this spring. Tripp is the best blitzing linebacker the team has and takes on a very vocal role of leadership with the group. He’ll be the heart and soul of this group for the season, I’m looking forward to seeing him back out there. No one is harder on Tripp than himself and he really pushes himself to do better all the time. This last fall he was showing good improvement in zone and pass coverage. One thing I’ll be looking for in 2012 will be continual production from Tripp, in 2010 he started off huge but tapered off and at time looked dead tired on the field as the season wore on (not really his fault, injuries forced him to play a ton more). I wonder if Tripp will stay as the LS as well, or if they’ll have Hardy continue it?

John Kanongata’a (Jr) 5-11 227. JP had to take over for Tripp early in the season, Sac St tested JP and honestly that’s the only game where I recall him getting beat a bunch. After that he locked it down and had a rock solid season. Also a good blitzer (I’d heard prior rumour about him maybe going to DE) he’s a very powerful guy. Pass coverage isn’t his strongest suit, but it’s not like he’s bad at it either. The big question I see is this; the coaches want JP and Tripp on the field at the same time, so who takes sam and who takes will?

Brock Coyle (Jr) 6-2 235. I happened to just see Brock yesterday in fact, he certainly passes the “eye test” of being a mike-backer that’s for sure. And in his time subbing in for Dirty last year he didn’t disappoint. Brock’s been patiently waiting for his time and that time is now. I’ll bet by fall he’s got another 8 to 10 pounds on, it’d be ideal to see him closer to 245. From what I’ve seen Brock is a pretty smart ‘backer in pass coverage and zone blitz schemes, he hasn’t shown as much physical presence as Dirty did, I’d like to see that come about this year. How’s this though, our potential 3 starting linebackers? All juniors.

Ty Timmer (Jr) 6-2 224. Ty should finally be back and ready to go, a guy that’s been side lined by injuries and long-term recoveries, he’s got a long way to get back into the mix of things with the rest of the team. per what I’m told speed will be his key needed improvement. Ty is the type of ILB that our prior staff really looked for, a guy that was always in the right place at the right time and is very fundamentally sound. The new staff is looking for more speed and conditioning, Ty’s had 2 years to ramp up and I expect he’ll be ready for it. I see Ty as a solid contributor on ST and a backup to Coyle in the middle.

Josh Stuberg (Sr) 6-2 232. Josh is a rangy linebacker that’s played in the middle and outside. Thrust into a starting OLB role back in 2009 but then he’s been a backup and ST’er since Josh has just not broken through to a starting spot. Considering who is in front of him he probably won’t secure a starting role but I expect a healthy rotation for him throughout the season. He’ll be a great utility linebacker that can presumably play all three spots. Josh’s challenge is that he’s not really excelled in one spot, he’s just pretty good at doing everything (that I see as an observer).

Taylor Tuliapupu (Soph) 6-0 225. Taylor is a bit of an enigma, rumoured to be leaving the team this time last fall it was proven untrue over and over as he played through spring ball and fall camp as well. Then just like last season he just vanished come time to play, looking at the stats he’s not even mentioned as a participant and has no stats. Taylor was getting looks in the middle of the field, he was having issues working with ST as Arbuckle was on him a lot for being out of place and not sprinting to finish drills enough. I don’t know if we’ll see him anymore or not, he’s a load of a guy and hits real hard, but speed is an issue and he finds himself out of place at times too.

Addison Owen (RS Frosh) 6-2 218. Addison as I recall was supposed to be a safety but showed up bigger (taller/stronger) than expected and so they rolled him to outside linebacker. There’s rumours posted on here that this spring he’s battling some academic stuff too. In fall camp he made some plays but also at times looked like a fish out of water. Ty Gregorak really pushed him and he was a guy that probably could’ve played as a true freshman. This year Addison should contribute heavily on special teams as well as backing up our outside linebackers. I’m anxious to see how he looks out there this spring to see if he’s adapting to his position more. He’ll be an immediate impact on ST, but at OLB he’ll need to vastly improve.

Brian Maus (So) 6-2 227. Brian is a guy that walked on and played scout team in 2010, made it through spring ball, and came into fall camp and did a good job with the 2s/3s and on special teams. It even got him on the field a bit for special teams although he didn’t really put up any numbers there. As most local walk-ons face Brian will be facing an uphill battle to keep a roster spot but I’m thinking this spring with the rumoured absence of Pateman, my belief that Tripp will be out, and the unknown of if Tuliapupu is on the team and if Owen might sit a bunch due to academics – he’ll have a great chance to get lots of reps and prove his worth. Maus isn’t as quick as other linebackers, his lateral speed needs to improve, he’s a good tackler though and never gives up. He’s probably looking at a role mostly on ST and possibly some backup roles too.

Jonathon Richards (RS Frosh) 6-3 215. Certainly a guy that I’m hoping has added some weight, Richards was a very fluid guy that could get to the ball carrier quickly but would sometimes find himself over-powered. As a true freshman he showed potential, lets see how he’s progressed – he’ll have a big chance to really move up in the ranks this spring.

Ethan Pateman (?) – Posted on here, but unconfirmed, that he’s been dismissed. By the looks of that kid I expected him to move back to DE this year.

New to the team:

Nick Holt (So) 6-0 230. His highlight reel puts him mostly in the middle of the field, will he stick there at 6 feet and 230 pounds or will he move outside? If the Griz entertain a 3-4 having Holt side-by-side with Coyle could be a nice option as well.

Jeremiah Kose (So) 6-2 225. Looking at his highlight reel he’s mainly on the outside, that’ll add great depth to rotate in and out with Tripp and JP. I said this in the secondary thread as well, doing well at JuCo does not always relate to doing well at this level. I believe he’s one of the guys on the team already and so he’ll be one I’ll be watching for sure in spring camp.

Herbert Gamboa (Frosh) 6-1 215. A speedster, we won’t see him until fall camp. Many on egriz have wondered if he’ll move to safety.

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Looking at this group and considering the amount of players lost on the D-line I’m really wondering if we’ll see some 3-4 this year. I’d think the staff would love to have Tripp/JP/Coyle/Kose/Holt/Stu/Timmer out there as much as possible.

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Looking ahead to spring camp, I can’t recall if both Holt and Kose are already here or not… for that sake I’m going to make these assumptions for my wild-guess on spring camp depth. I’m going to assume that Pateman, Tripp, and Tuliapupu are not practicing.

My guess on spring camp depth (sticking with 4-3 for now):

1st string: JP/Coyle/Stu
2nd string: Kose/Timmer (or Holt)/Owen
3rd string: Richards/Holt (or Timmer)/Maus

Naturally I see Tripp coming into fall camp and bumping Stu back down. If you looked at a 3-4 D though I like the prospect of having Coyle, Timmer, Holt, and maybe Stu inside with JP, Tripp, and Kose outside – JP strikes me as a natural rusher for a 3-4 scheme, I’m just not sure who would back him up in that role.

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