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SPRING CAMP: Position Battles on Defense / ST

BWahlberg

Well-known member
DONOR
Got super long winded here, sorry for the tl;dr crowd.

Last week I put up a post discussing the possible position battles I’m expecting to see on offense – so now let’s move to the other side of the ball and look at expected position battles with defense and with the special teams guys.

Defensive Line: 1st string is presumably locked in at Zach Wagenmann, Alex Bienemann, Tonga Takai, & Tyrone Holmes. I think that Wags is out this spring (recall reading that, recovering from a minor surgery). If true we’ll see someone else filling in for him. The real “battle” will be for depth and seeing where a few or our red-shirted guys will fill in.

Jesse Ginn – This is Ginn’s year to adapt and get ready to become a major contributor. He’ll presumably have expectations to take over for Bienemann in 2014.

Caleb Kidder – Excited to see how Caleb is adapting after his first fall as a Griz. Also wondering will he still be a DT or a DE?

Zach Peevey – The roster has him as a DT recall him as a DE. He had some nice mentions from the coaching staff from his scout team work.

Bo Harris – Another guy coming off his RS, had some moments in fall camp that caught my eye.

Trevor Rehm – Wound up having some impact and playing a bit of DT and DE last year. Kind of an unsung hero kind of guy, I noticed him getting pressures and as I recall he had a sack or two.

Derek Crittenden – Lots of expectations for him last year but I don’t recall much from him. Can’t recall if he was injured or not. I’d expect lots of reps at DE.

Shawn Bradshaw – O-line convert to DT in fall camp, hopefully a season adapting to the job he’ll be able to make a better impact here. Wide body guy, good lane-stuffer.

Guess on depth opening spring camp would go:

DE – Holmes / Crittenden / Peevey
DT – Bienemann / Rehm / Ginn
DT - Takai / Kidder / Bradshaw
DE – Wagenmann / Harris

Linebacker: Pretty much like D-line, the starters would presumably be locked in with Jordan Tripp, Brock Coyle, J.P. Kanongata’a. And just like the D-line depth is where the battles will be. This part is a little thin and I suppose we’ll see some walk-ons looking to fill the ranks. This will be key for depth to develop this year, all three LB starters this year are seniors.

Addison Owen – Versatile LB, probably the best coming in off the bench, good in pass coverage. Wondering if he’ll have filled out his frame a little more.

Jeremiah Kose – Really looking forward to seeing a healthy Kose out there. In the fall his repaired knee wasn’t ready and he didn’t practice much. Hopefully that’s all cleared and he’s ready to go.

Johnathan Richards – A little under the radar but sources were telling me he was in the running to get #37 a year ago (not that he was/is better than Tripp – but his play and work ethic was getting attention).

Brian Maus – Maus is a bigger dude, I’m wondering if he’ll be vying to back up Coyle.

Kelsey Lippert – Was working his way into the rotation, as I recall he was playing a lot of ST duty.

Depth: tough for me to speak on as I can’t recall who was playing sam/mike/will as backups. Kind of a wild guess here:

Sam: Tripp / Owen
Mike: Coyle / Kose / Maus
Will: JP / Richards / Lippert

Cornerbacks: My guess is that this one is wide open. Here’s our options:

Sean Murray – Word has it he’ll open spring ball as the #1 corner. He played that position for the most part through 2012 as well. Sean maybe the tallest of the corners and brings the most on-going experience. He’s a guy that has made some incredibly athletic plays but needs to find a more consistent path on the field. Also needs to work when he’s in zone and breaking to the receiver once the ball is thrown.

Nate Harris – Lots of expectations for Nate who looked good as a true freshman. Had a big dose of reality once actually playing though, there was hopes and thoughts he’d be the regular starter aside Murray but that didn’t happen. Now that he’s got one season under his belt will he be a little more humble and consistent on the field?

Anthony Goodwin – “Chief” comes into his senior season as a guy that I think will eventually grab a starting spot. I’ve seen this often with JuCo’s – an adjustment period their first year here and a pretty solid Griz career after that (Roots and Dodson come to mind immediately). Goodwin showed some of the better coverage skills in games, tackling when in 1-on-1 scenarios were a challenge at times. Taking proper angles to get the WR also resulted in some issues.

Josh Dennard – Dennard, much like Harris, is another guy I’m excited to see come back, this time as an experienced player at his position. I might be off in this opinion but Dennard struck me as one of the most athletic overall guys in the secondary. He was a converted WR so he had coverage issues show up a lot.

JR Nelson – Nelson actually played fairly decent as a true freshman in fall camp. He’ll be vying for depth and ST I’d expect but he’s a young guy that I think will turn into a great guy battling to start on the 2014 team.

Marlon Miles – Smaller guy at 5-8, Marlon has been up and down in the depth. We’ll see where he lands. As the season went on he was making few nice plays on ST.

Justin Witted – Listed as a corner… thought he was a safety. Guess we will see. More of harder hitter, glad he came back to the team after taking a season off. Will have to see if he’s better adapted to the position.

Guess on depth:

CB: Murray / Harris / Whitted or Miles
CB: Goodwin / Dennard / Nelson

Safety: If there was ever a position where I have no clue who will end up the starters, this would be it. Last year at safety was a dumpster fire for so many reasons. People point to injuries, or to the position coach (Burtnett), to the playcalling/system (Gregorak), to players just being in slumps, or just the wrong guys being used entirely. I’m assuming it’s a combo of everything. We’ve got a new coach for the position. Gregorak in a meeting I was at a month ago made mention of his knowledge/awareness for a massive need to improve in the secondary. We’ve got a new transfer that’s here now. So lets look at the options.

Bo Tully – Fast player, rangy guy. The brunt of egriz criticism as many of us believe he finds himself out of position often and has big time issues tackling, especially when he’s the last line of defense (see North Dakota highlight reel). Bo will be senior this year and brings 3 years of on-field experience. I HOPE that a fresh look, new coach, and a better system fits for him. However entering fall camp he’ll have to prove that to a lot of fans and needs to have improved a lot of his game. A possible shred of hope is looking back at his play against MSU. For the most part he had a very solid game, however yes I’ll admit, MSU’s one TD came on a pass play where I think he was in cover-2 and Dennard was on that side and they both chased the same WR leaving the other open.

Matt Hermanson – Rumors posted on egriz suggest Hermey was dealing with a broken foot, ruptured disc, and hip pointer through the season. Ouch. Excuses aside Hermey came crashing back to normalcy after a stellar 2nd half to his true freshman season. If he’s healthy and ready to go I’m anxious to see what we’ll get out of him this spring camp. This will hopefully be the start of his rebound. If not he’s going to have pressure on his heels. Hopefully it was injuries that had Hermey playing a little more tentatively this last year and we will see a little more aggression from him this year. That is needed in this spot.

Steven Rominger – Word had it Burtnett kind of gave up on the position and cited a lack of overall speed was the issue (claiming he had “nothing to work with”). I’d posted Rominger was a bit slower than other DBs but was reminded he’s actually a faster guy than I thought. Rominger will be a senior as well and I think backed up Hermey last year. If Hermey doesn’t return to 2011 form Rominger might push hard for his job. Steven had a stellar spring camp this time last year but kind of vanished in fall camp. Can he do it again? He’s better in run support than I’ve seen of the returning safeties.

Kendrick Van-Ackeren – Not sure if he’s traditionally a free safety or strong safety. My guess is he’ll be placed behind Bo Tully and will look to compete with Bo. Lots of hype and expectation surround Kendrick – can he step up this early? We will have to see. Griz Nation is really anxious to see what he’s got. Being his first spring camp and just joining the team when the semester started I don’t expect him to make a huge splash just yet – if he does… we could be in very good shape.

Connor Lebsock – I presume unless he had an AP-like recovery for his torn knee he’ll be watching in sweats this spring. Really want to see what a healthy Lebsock can bring to this team, injuries have de-railed his last few go arounds (bad hammy pull in 2011, knee in 2012).

Herbert Gamboa – Got some playing time last year. People drool over his 40 time, but 40 times don’t make tackles or cut on the receiver once the ball is thrown, or give hint to how people will play in zone defense.. Herbert had a pretty plain fall camp, however most incoming freshman do. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do now that he’s had some on-field experience. If he can live up to the hype he may be a dark horse to come push for a spot.

Zach Gratton – Like Justin Whitted I’m not sure where Zach will line up in the secondary (safety or corner). He played both (as I recall) in fall camp. Probably looking to develop into an ST role this year.

Adam DeBruycker – Adam is in a similar boat to Gratton here, looking to shore up the ranks, get ST duty, and continue his development.

Brett Kirschner - Not sure if Kirsch is actually headed to safety or not now that we've got the transfer in Van Ackeren. Guess we'll see. Last time I saw a running back convert to defense he had a rough go of it and it took a while for him to adapt to playing on the other side of the ball. I may be biased but I'd rather see Kirsch as a running back.

So my guess for spring camp would go as follows;

S: Tully / Van-Ackeren / Gamboa
S: Hermanson / Rominger / Gratton

What I have NO CLUE on is what it will look like when spring camp closes. However I have a suspicion that it may close the same way and the real battle for who will land the two starting spots will spill well into fall camp.

Moving on let’s take a quick look at specialists, one spot is locked down, the other is possibly up in the air, and the other two are total unknowns.

Punter: Stephen Shaw has this on lock for the next 3 years barring injury or him just losing his mind. A great punter.

Kicker: Chris Lider has the inside track I’d assume, however he had a less than-convincing close to the season and throughout the year many of his misses were momentum changing misses (App St and MSU come to mind immediately). This will probably be Harrison Greenberg’s best chance to make a run at kicker. In terms of fall camp accuracy and leg strength, Lider had that over Greenberg. Harrison took his redshirt and will hopefully show up with a stronger leg in spring ball. If Greenberg has added strength to his kicking leg this contest may heat up. Lider is a big and powerful dude, but as we’ve seen accuracy is an issue and last year in many games you saw throughout the game his kicks would drift more and more and more and then he’d start missing.

Kick/Punt Return: Here is where I have no clue. I’d guess Chase Naccarato will get a shot since he cut his teeth on being a returner in the FCS last season. I wonder if Ellis Henderson might as well, one would debate with Henderson about wanting your #1 WR returning kicks and punts, but it worked well for Sambrano and Mariani. In the past few years I’ve seen Jordan Canada attempt returns. Josh Dennard could be another option too. Don’t know if the new guys Van-Ackeren or TraVon Van have experience there. This is up in the air and presumably the guy with the best hands fielding the kicks will win the job, even over those that may be a little more “electric” of returners.

As a side note too, the fieldgoal unit is going to be all new as well. Short snapper Brett Brauer has graduated and the primary holder was Sam Gratton. So an interesting wrinkle in the kicking battle will be who takes over these two spots and how they work with each kicker.
 
And I'll add this in as well, one thing that I'm really looking for this spring (since spring is usually a little more harder hitting) is better tackling.

I'm trying not to pile on Tully too much, and I realize I'm doing that in sharing this picture - but it wasn't just him that I saw doing this. Pflu always talked about "hitting with the face". I've had other coaches talk to me about tackling and how you stare into your target's chest, etc. This kind of stuff below, I'd like to not see much of.

264334_4194019261476_200130977_n.jpg
 
There are serious safety issues with tackling with your head down -- maybe not in this particular instance -- but in general it is a really bad idea. If you can avoid it you really want to keep your head away from the knees of the person you are tring to tackle. I saw a really horrific video of a tackler put his head down and take a knee to the head then end up as a quadraplegic. Sickening to watch.
 
Grisly Fan said:
There are serious safety issues with tackling with your head down -- maybe not in this particular instance -- but in general it is a really bad idea. If you can avoid it you really want to keep your head away from the knees of the person you are tring to tackle. I saw a really horrific video of a tackler put his head down and take a knee to the head then end up as a quadraplegic. Sickening to watch.

Not totally sure but I think with this play his head started higher, maybe at elbow length, but his arms stayed low the whole while. Not sure if he was trying to put his hat on the ball or what.
 
heightsgriz said:
Tyrone Holmes will be First Team all conference this year.

...and with him on one side and Waggs on the other, only one thing to say --

Big Sky QBs - INCOMING!
 
The adage of "See what you’re going to hit and run thru not to." is what we need a little more of at safety.
 
I do believe that this D will be extremely stout. One of the best front 7's we've had in many years, while the weak point (secondary) was extremely young last year, & has everyone returning with lots of experience under their collective belts now. As humans, we tend to learn from our mistakes, I see no difference in the case of our DB's (& DC). LOTS of talent everywhere!
 
GoldStandardGriz said:
I do believe that this D will be extremely stout. One of the best front 7's we've had in many years, while the weak point (secondary) was extremely young last year, & has everyone returning with lots of experience under their collective belts now. As humans, we tend to learn from our mistakes, I see no difference in the case of our DB's (& DC). LOTS of talent everywhere!
Holmes + Wags = DOMINATION
 
BWahlberg said:
Got super long winded here, sorry for the tl;dr crowd.

Last week I put up a post discussing the possible position battles I’m expecting to see on offense – so now let’s move to the other side of the ball and look at expected position battles with defense and with the special teams guys.

Defensive Line: 1st string is presumably locked in at Zach Wagenmann, Alex Bienemann, Tonga Takai, & Tyrone Holmes. I think that Wags is out this spring (recall reading that, recovering from a minor surgery). If true we’ll see someone else filling in for him. The real “battle” will be for depth and seeing where a few or our red-shirted guys will fill in.

Jesse Ginn – This is Ginn’s year to adapt and get ready to become a major contributor. He’ll presumably have expectations to take over for Bienemann in 2014.

Caleb Kidder – Excited to see how Caleb is adapting after his first fall as a Griz. Also wondering will he still be a DT or a DE?

Zach Peevey – The roster has him as a DT recall him as a DE. He had some nice mentions from the coaching staff from his scout team work.

Bo Harris – Another guy coming off his RS, had some moments in fall camp that caught my eye.

Trevor Rehm – Wound up having some impact and playing a bit of DT and DE last year. Kind of an unsung hero kind of guy, I noticed him getting pressures and as I recall he had a sack or two.

Derek Crittenden – Lots of expectations for him last year but I don’t recall much from him. Can’t recall if he was injured or not. I’d expect lots of reps at DE.

Shawn Bradshaw – O-line convert to DT in fall camp, hopefully a season adapting to the job he’ll be able to make a better impact here. Wide body guy, good lane-stuffer.

Guess on depth opening spring camp would go:

DE – Holmes / Crittenden / Peevey
DT – Bienemann / Rehm / Ginn
DT - Takai / Kidder / Bradshaw
DE – Wagenmann / Harris

Linebacker: Pretty much like D-line, the starters would presumably be locked in with Jordan Tripp, Brock Coyle, J.P. Kanongata’a. And just like the D-line depth is where the battles will be. This part is a little thin and I suppose we’ll see some walk-ons looking to fill the ranks. This will be key for depth to develop this year, all three LB starters this year are seniors.

Addison Owen – Versatile LB, probably the best coming in off the bench, good in pass coverage. Wondering if he’ll have filled out his frame a little more.

Jeremiah Kose – Really looking forward to seeing a healthy Kose out there. In the fall his repaired knee wasn’t ready and he didn’t practice much. Hopefully that’s all cleared and he’s ready to go.

Johnathan Richards – A little under the radar but sources were telling me he was in the running to get #37 a year ago (not that he was/is better than Tripp – but his play and work ethic was getting attention).

Brian Maus – Maus is a bigger dude, I’m wondering if he’ll be vying to back up Coyle.

Kelsey Lippert – Was working his way into the rotation, as I recall he was playing a lot of ST duty.

Depth: tough for me to speak on as I can’t recall who was playing sam/mike/will as backups. Kind of a wild guess here:

Sam: Tripp / Owen
Mike: Coyle / Kose / Maus
Will: JP / Richards / Lippert

Cornerbacks: My guess is that this one is wide open. Here’s our options:

Sean Murray – Word has it he’ll open spring ball as the #1 corner. He played that position for the most part through 2012 as well. Sean maybe the tallest of the corners and brings the most on-going experience. He’s a guy that has made some incredibly athletic plays but needs to find a more consistent path on the field. Also needs to work when he’s in zone and breaking to the receiver once the ball is thrown.

Nate Harris – Lots of expectations for Nate who looked good as a true freshman. Had a big dose of reality once actually playing though, there was hopes and thoughts he’d be the regular starter aside Murray but that didn’t happen. Now that he’s got one season under his belt will he be a little more humble and consistent on the field?

Anthony Goodwin – “Chief” comes into his senior season as a guy that I think will eventually grab a starting spot. I’ve seen this often with JuCo’s – an adjustment period their first year here and a pretty solid Griz career after that (Roots and Dodson come to mind immediately). Goodwin showed some of the better coverage skills in games, tackling when in 1-on-1 scenarios were a challenge at times. Taking proper angles to get the WR also resulted in some issues.

Josh Dennard – Dennard, much like Harris, is another guy I’m excited to see come back, this time as an experienced player at his position. I might be off in this opinion but Dennard struck me as one of the most athletic overall guys in the secondary. He was a converted WR so he had coverage issues show up a lot.

JR Nelson – Nelson actually played fairly decent as a true freshman in fall camp. He’ll be vying for depth and ST I’d expect but he’s a young guy that I think will turn into a great guy battling to start on the 2014 team.

Marlon Miles – Smaller guy at 5-8, Marlon has been up and down in the depth. We’ll see where he lands. As the season went on he was making few nice plays on ST.

Justin Witted – Listed as a corner… thought he was a safety. Guess we will see. More of harder hitter, glad he came back to the team after taking a season off. Will have to see if he’s better adapted to the position.

Guess on depth:

CB: Murray / Harris / Whitted or Miles
CB: Goodwin / Dennard / Nelson

Safety: If there was ever a position where I have no clue who will end up the starters, this would be it. Last year at safety was a dumpster fire for so many reasons. People point to injuries, or to the position coach (Burtnett), to the playcalling/system (Gregorak), to players just being in slumps, or just the wrong guys being used entirely. I’m assuming it’s a combo of everything. We’ve got a new coach for the position. Gregorak in a meeting I was at a month ago made mention of his knowledge/awareness for a massive need to improve in the secondary. We’ve got a new transfer that’s here now. So lets look at the options.

Bo Tully – Fast player, rangy guy. The brunt of egriz criticism as many of us believe he finds himself out of position often and has big time issues tackling, especially when he’s the last line of defense (see North Dakota highlight reel). Bo will be senior this year and brings 3 years of on-field experience. I HOPE that a fresh look, new coach, and a better system fits for him. However entering fall camp he’ll have to prove that to a lot of fans and needs to have improved a lot of his game. A possible shred of hope is looking back at his play against MSU. For the most part he had a very solid game, however yes I’ll admit, MSU’s one TD came on a pass play where I think he was in cover-2 and Dennard was on that side and they both chased the same WR leaving the other open.

Matt Hermanson – Rumors posted on egriz suggest Hermey was dealing with a broken foot, ruptured disc, and hip pointer through the season. Ouch. Excuses aside Hermey came crashing back to normalcy after a stellar 2nd half to his true freshman season. If he’s healthy and ready to go I’m anxious to see what we’ll get out of him this spring camp. This will hopefully be the start of his rebound. If not he’s going to have pressure on his heels. Hopefully it was injuries that had Hermey playing a little more tentatively this last year and we will see a little more aggression from him this year. That is needed in this spot.

Steven Rominger – Word had it Burtnett kind of gave up on the position and cited a lack of overall speed was the issue (claiming he had “nothing to work with”). I’d posted Rominger was a bit slower than other DBs but was reminded he’s actually a faster guy than I thought. Rominger will be a senior as well and I think backed up Hermey last year. If Hermey doesn’t return to 2011 form Rominger might push hard for his job. Steven had a stellar spring camp this time last year but kind of vanished in fall camp. Can he do it again? He’s better in run support than I’ve seen of the returning safeties.

Kendrick Van-Ackeren – Not sure if he’s traditionally a free safety or strong safety. My guess is he’ll be placed behind Bo Tully and will look to compete with Bo. Lots of hype and expectation surround Kendrick – can he step up this early? We will have to see. Griz Nation is really anxious to see what he’s got. Being his first spring camp and just joining the team when the semester started I don’t expect him to make a huge splash just yet – if he does… we could be in very good shape.

Connor Lebsock – I presume unless he had an AP-like recovery for his torn knee he’ll be watching in sweats this spring. Really want to see what a healthy Lebsock can bring to this team, injuries have de-railed his last few go arounds (bad hammy pull in 2011, knee in 2012).

Herbert Gamboa – Got some playing time last year. People drool over his 40 time, but 40 times don’t make tackles or cut on the receiver once the ball is thrown, or give hint to how people will play in zone defense.. Herbert had a pretty plain fall camp, however most incoming freshman do. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do now that he’s had some on-field experience. If he can live up to the hype he may be a dark horse to come push for a spot.

Zach Gratton – Like Justin Whitted I’m not sure where Zach will line up in the secondary (safety or corner). He played both (as I recall) in fall camp. Probably looking to develop into an ST role this year.

Adam DeBruycker – Adam is in a similar boat to Gratton here, looking to shore up the ranks, get ST duty, and continue his development.

Brett Kirschner - Not sure if Kirsch is actually headed to safety or not now that we've got the transfer in Van Ackeren. Guess we'll see. Last time I saw a running back convert to defense he had a rough go of it and it took a while for him to adapt to playing on the other side of the ball. I may be biased but I'd rather see Kirsch as a running back.

So my guess for spring camp would go as follows;

S: Tully / Van-Ackeren / Gamboa
S: Hermanson / Rominger / Gratton

What I have NO CLUE on is what it will look like when spring camp closes. However I have a suspicion that it may close the same way and the real battle for who will land the two starting spots will spill well into fall camp.

Moving on let’s take a quick look at specialists, one spot is locked down, the other is possibly up in the air, and the other two are total unknowns.

Punter: Stephen Shaw has this on lock for the next 3 years barring injury or him just losing his mind. A great punter.

Kicker: Chris Lider has the inside track I’d assume, however he had a less than-convincing close to the season and throughout the year many of his misses were momentum changing misses (App St and MSU come to mind immediately). This will probably be Harrison Greenberg’s best chance to make a run at kicker. In terms of fall camp accuracy and leg strength, Lider had that over Greenberg. Harrison took his redshirt and will hopefully show up with a stronger leg in spring ball. If Greenberg has added strength to his kicking leg this contest may heat up. Lider is a big and powerful dude, but as we’ve seen accuracy is an issue and last year in many games you saw throughout the game his kicks would drift more and more and more and then he’d start missing.

Kick/Punt Return: Here is where I have no clue. I’d guess Chase Naccarato will get a shot since he cut his teeth on being a returner in the FCS last season. I wonder if Ellis Henderson might as well, one would debate with Henderson about wanting your #1 WR returning kicks and punts, but it worked well for Sambrano and Mariani. In the past few years I’ve seen Jordan Canada attempt returns. Josh Dennard could be another option too. Don’t know if the new guys Van-Ackeren or TraVon Van have experience there. This is up in the air and presumably the guy with the best hands fielding the kicks will win the job, even over those that may be a little more “electric” of returners.

As a side note too, the fieldgoal unit is going to be all new as well. Short snapper Brett Brauer has graduated and the primary holder was Sam Gratton. So an interesting wrinkle in the kicking battle will be who takes over these two spots and how they work with each kicker.

The front seven of this defense is the strength of this team. They should be solid again this year. The secondary should be better too, at least the maturing CB's. The safeties, who knows? All I can remember is the North Dakota coach at the post game press conference " we knew that the the Griz safeties were weak so we exploited that situation". The safeties played poorly last year. There isn't much you can say. Which of the following excuses were the reasons:

Poor coaching( Burtnett)
Poor scheme(Ty)
Starters slumps/ talent level
Key injuries that impacted depth(we did loose two players to season ending injuries)
Poor Speed
Poor Tackling
Better BSC Receivers

Maybe this Van Ackeren kid can make an immediate impact. We'll see. With JJ potentially back, the safeties are the last "weak link" for this 2013 Griz team IMO.
 
I actually think that Van Ackeren and Hermanson are going to turn into a really nice duo. I also believe that Dennard will be ahead of Goodwin.
 
heightsgriz said:
Tyrone Holmes will be First Team all conference this year.


what this dude said.


also, looking forward to a big year from kidder (suspect he will stay at DT). unlikely, but we have three potential 1st team all conf LB's this year. prolly won't happen, but skill-wise, these three are as solid as you'll get in FCS. look for a huge year from coyle. safety can become nothing but better.

josh dennard was the biggest surprise of all last year on defense for me. i think he was the most aggressive hitter on defense last year. don't get me wrong, he made some mistakes, but his attitude as a CB was spot-on, and i look for him to have a big year too.
 
Holmes could be an All-American level player for us someday if he can improve against the run. He was a great asset in the pass rush last year, but he was a bit of a liability defending the run and really didn't prove himself as an every down DE last year. If he can get stronger and learn how to engage the tackles at the point of attack he is going to be very very good.

I thought Crittenden had a decent year last year. He wasn't much of a pass rusher, but he was stout. I thought Kidder came on strong at the end of last year as well. I like our depth on the DL and should see some rotation there, which will be an advantage.
 
Safety play was down big time last year because of the loss of Johnson and Roots. When your corners are good your safetys are all Americans.
 
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