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Weekly Position Discussion: Week 6, Linebackers

BWahlberg

Well-known member
DONOR
We've got two positions left on defense and they're the two strongest units of the defense, this week we'll take a look at the linebackers. This group is rich with talent and experience with it's starters and while there isn't much experience in the depth there is a lot of talented players that will need to get time in this year to build experience. What'll be interesting to see in these pre-season discussion is if all three of our starters make the Cat-Griz Insider top 10 list (I think they should).

LBs: Jordan Tripp, Brock Coyle, John Kanongata'a, Addison Owen, Jeremiah Kose, Kelsey Lippert, Kendrick Van Ackeren, Connor Lebsock, Tucker Schye.

Projected Depth
Starters: Jordan Tripp (senior), Brock Coyle (senior), JP Kanongata'a (senior)
Backup: Addison Owen (soph), Jeremiah Kose (soph), Kendrick Van Ackeren (soph)
Depth: Connor Lebsock (soph), Kelsey Lippert (soph)
Red Shirt: Tucker Schye (frosh)

Strengths/Weaknesses

Jordan Tripp - Jordan might be one of the very best linebackers ever to suit up in a Montana jersey, this senior season he's got an opportunity to prove he can play on Sundays. He's got the mix of the size, speed, and smarts. He's good in pass coverage, defends the zone-read fairly well, hits hard, and is a leader on and off the field. This year Jordan needs to round out his game, he can't get caught from behind while looking into the stands after a pick and he's got to do his 1/11 and not try to make up for others who get out of position. I noticed that with Tripp last year, at times he was trying to do 2 or 3 players jobs and it would catch him on his heels. I could see Jordan being an ideal 3-4 OLB in the NFL - hopefully this year he keeps going strong, gets after the QBs and piles up the tackles.

Brock Coyle - If I could place a bet on who will finish with the most tackles on the team, I'd put it on Brock. This guy, much like the middle linebackers he's followed (McSurdy and Lebsock), has a nose for the ball. The big thing I want to see in improvement from Brock is forcing turnovers, last year he forced 2 fumbles and recovered one. That's not bad but I'd love to see those numbers double. Brock is a very sure tackler, hopefully he can include more pop to his tackles and force a few more footballs out of the ball carriers hands. Zone/pass coverage wasn't bad in 2012, but hopefully improvement is made there as well. Coyle, much like McSurdy going into his senior year, has a chance to pile up huge numbers and could also get an NFL look.

JP Kanongata'a - Under-rated, IMO, and sometimes forgotten about when our stud LBs are discussed JP has gone from a linebacker who was labeled as too short and too slow to being a solid part of our defense. I think his power-rush when blitzing is the best of all the linebackers. He's quick in coverage and smart on the field. The combination of JP and Tripp on the edges makes for running outside of the tackles very difficult. JP, much like Coyle, needs to improve forcing fumbles, also needs to get into the backfield more and be more disruptive.

Addison Owen - Owen worked in some ST reps last year and will looked upon to contribute there this year as well. In addition Addison should start to see even more reps at outside linebacker. Addison has worked through his conversion from safety in high school to OLB at Montana and played well in the spring. He's very smart in pass coverage but still finds himself out of position at times on the field. Gregorak yells at him a lot (but not as much as he used to), Addison needs to keep improving his rush-defense as well. He's a very versatile player, can cover very well, is really quick. Pass-rush isn't there yet.

Jeremiah Kose - Jeremiah came in last fall recovering from knee surgery and didn't play too much. This spring after seeing him out there and even starting at middle linebacker in the last scrimmage I'm really impressed. Kose tracks the ball-carrier really well, he stays with running backs all the way to the sidelines He's a hard hitter too. Pass coverage is suspect, in a few scrimmages the middle of the field was a pretty easy target to exploit.

Kendrick Van Ackeren - We've got a very limited scope in what we've seen from him but he's poised to grab a starting spot and hold it down for 2 years after this season. Brought in to help at safety he wasn't adapting the playbook well and was just not breaking through like expected. He played OLB at Hawai'i and suddenly when he moved to that spot he killed it. If that small sample we saw is an indicator of what he can contribute - much like Addison Owen - he will be able to come in and play multiple series each game to help keep the starters fresh.

Kelsey Lippert - Lippert took an expanded role this spring due to the resting and injuries of a few other linebackers. In run support he looked pretty solid to me. He was in on a lot of tackles. I didn't see much from him in pass coverage so I can't say how he does there. This year I assume his main role will be special teams with the plan to fight for a starting spot in 2014.

Connor Lebsock - Missed spring ball I believe. Converting from safety to linebacker, I recall someone on here posting that he's added some weight and it doing well. Probably looking at mostly ST duty this year. I'll be interested to see how he looks in fall camp, he was a quick player at safety but now a little bigger/stronger, he's making an Addison Owen-like move, which I would guess will take some time to adjust to.

Tucker Schye - I really liked what I saw from Schye in his highlight reel and the talk around him from all-star games and camps continues to be great. Considering we've got 3 seniors and 5 sophomores the depth is in good shape this year, I'd like to see Schye red-shirt so we can get 4 full years from him. I do wonder about speed/footwork of this level and adapting to it - a red shirt may help that.
 
Love what the GRIZ are doing with good sized Safeties by converting them to LB. The BSC is a passing league. Very wise to have LB's good at coverage and a good feel for zone as well. This will be a huge help in pass defense the next 3 years. My concern is a few years down the road, when we play power running teams. Then again, we have nice young DL to take care of that.
 
mtgrizrule said:
Love what the GRIZ are doing with good sized Safeties by converting them to LB. The BSC is a passing league. Very wise to have LB's good at coverage and a good feel for zone as well. This will be a huge help in pass defense the next 3 years. My concern is a few years down the road, when we play power running teams. Then again, we have nice young DL to take care of that.


Yep, converted safeties usually help with speed and coverage but some lack in being as big or physical.
 
Coyle's stats in 2012 include playing only half the time in the first two games. These 3 should rack them up and if they up the turnover rate, and put up some "D" points, it will be a very interesting season!
 
BWahlberg said:
We've got two positions left on defense and they're the two strongest units of the defense, this week we'll take a look at the linebackers. This group is rich with talent and experience with it's starters and while there isn't much experience in the depth there is a lot of talented players that will need to get time in this year to build experience. What'll be interesting to see in these pre-season discussion is if all three of our starters make the Cat-Griz Insider top 10 list (I think they should).

LBs: Jordan Tripp, Brock Coyle, John Kanongata'a, Addison Owen, Jeremiah Kose, Kelsey Lippert, Kendrick Van Ackeren, Connor Lebsock, Tucker Schye.

Projected Depth
Starters: Jordan Tripp (senior), Brock Coyle (senior), JP Kanongata'a (senior)
Backup: Addison Owen (soph), Jeremiah Kose (soph), Kendrick Van Ackeren (soph)
Depth: Connor Lebsock (soph), Kelsey Lippert (soph)
Red Shirt: Tucker Schye (frosh)

Strengths/Weaknesses

Jordan Tripp - Jordan might be one of the very best linebackers ever to suit up in a Montana jersey, this senior season he's got an opportunity to prove he can play on Sundays. He's got the mix of the size, speed, and smarts. He's good in pass coverage, defends the zone-read fairly well, hits hard, and is a leader on and off the field. This year Jordan needs to round out his game, he can't get caught from behind while looking into the stands after a pick and he's got to do his 1/11 and not try to make up for others who get out of position. I noticed that with Tripp last year, at times he was trying to do 2 or 3 players jobs and it would catch him on his heels. I could see Jordan being an ideal 3-4 OLB in the NFL - hopefully this year he keeps going strong, gets after the QBs and piles up the tackles.

Brock Coyle - If I could place a bet on who will finish with the most tackles on the team, I'd put it on Brock. This guy, much like the middle linebackers he's followed (McSurdy and Lebsock), has a nose for the ball. The big thing I want to see in improvement from Brock is forcing turnovers, last year he forced 2 fumbles and recovered one. That's not bad but I'd love to see those numbers double. Brock is a very sure tackler, hopefully he can include more pop to his tackles and force a few more footballs out of the ball carriers hands. Zone/pass coverage wasn't bad in 2012, but hopefully improvement is made there as well. Coyle, much like McSurdy going into his senior year, has a chance to pile up huge numbers and could also get an NFL look.

JP Kanongata'a - Under-rated, IMO, and sometimes forgotten about when our stud LBs are discussed JP has gone from a linebacker who was labeled as too short and too slow to being a solid part of our defense. I think his power-rush when blitzing is the best of all the linebackers. He's quick in coverage and smart on the field. The combination of JP and Tripp on the edges makes for running outside of the tackles very difficult. JP, much like Coyle, needs to improve forcing fumbles, also needs to get into the backfield more and be more disruptive.

Addison Owen - Owen worked in some ST reps last year and will looked upon to contribute there this year as well. In addition Addison should start to see even more reps at outside linebacker. Addison has worked through his conversion from safety in high school to OLB at Montana and played well in the spring. He's very smart in pass coverage but still finds himself out of position at times on the field. Gregorak yells at him a lot (but not as much as he used to), Addison needs to keep improving his rush-defense as well. He's a very versatile player, can cover very well, is really quick. Pass-rush isn't there yet.

Jeremiah Kose - Jeremiah came in last fall recovering from knee surgery and didn't play too much. This spring after seeing him out there and even starting at middle linebacker in the last scrimmage I'm really impressed. Kose tracks the ball-carrier really well, he stays with running backs all the way to the sidelines He's a hard hitter too. Pass coverage is suspect, in a few scrimmages the middle of the field was a pretty easy target to exploit.

Kendrick Van Ackeren - We've got a very limited scope in what we've seen from him but he's poised to grab a starting spot and hold it down for 2 years after this season. Brought in to help at safety he wasn't adapting the playbook well and was just not breaking through like expected. He played OLB at Hawai'i and suddenly when he moved to that spot he killed it. If that small sample we saw is an indicator of what he can contribute - much like Addison Owen - he will be able to come in and play multiple series each game to help keep the starters fresh.

Kelsey Lippert - Lippert took an expanded role this spring due to the resting and injuries of a few other linebackers. In run support he looked pretty solid to me. He was in on a lot of tackles. I didn't see much from him in pass coverage so I can't say how he does there. This year I assume his main role will be special teams with the plan to fight for a starting spot in 2014.

Connor Lebsock - Missed spring ball I believe. Converting from safety to linebacker, I recall someone on here posting that he's added some weight and it doing well. Probably looking at mostly ST duty this year. I'll be interested to see how he looks in fall camp, he was a quick player at safety but now a little bigger/stronger, he's making an Addison Owen-like move, which I would guess will take some time to adjust to.

Tucker Schye - I really liked what I saw from Schye in his highlight reel and the talk around him from all-star games and camps continues to be great. Considering we've got 3 seniors and 5 sophomores the depth is in good shape this year, I'd like to see Schye red-shirt so we can get 4 full years from him. I do wonder about speed/footwork of this level and adapting to it - a red shirt may help that.

Brint:

I totally agree with your take on JP. Obviously the other two LB's get most of the "pub" but JP is an excellent player in his own right. On Lebsock, one has to wonder about the effects of the injuries and missed seasons. He has to be experiencing some frustration at this point.
 
Here are some of my observations on the LB corps.

I got to disagree about JP being underrated. In fact, I think he played much better as a sophomore than as a junior. He disappeared in many games last season, and it seemed like many teams ran to his side consistently. Instead of being underrated, I think you will see other LBs get many more reps at his position as the season progresses. Just my opinion.

I also think Coyle is the best LB on the team. Tripp is hyped by everyone, but he gets burned way too easily because he thinks he can break the D-coverage and freelance all over the field. I think some of this is due to coach Greg.. touting him as another Troy Palomalu (sp.?) Coyle is a rock on defense, steady-eddy.

I agree that Kose will be a stud LB, and I think Owen and Van Ackeren can be awesome as well.

Do not know much about the others, with one exception. Schye, if he stays healthy, can be among the best LBs to play for the Griz in many years. Don't worry too much about his speed. It is there, and his football instincts and non-stop motor will make him a great one. Plays with a mean-streak that I love in a LB.
 
I've heard there are quite a few NFL scouts that consider Tripp the best LB in FCS.

I wouldn't consider that overhyped. They seem to know what they're talking about.
 
uofmman1122 said:
I've heard there are quite a few NFL scouts that consider Tripp the best LB in FCS.

I wouldn't consider that overhyped. They seem to know what they're talking about.

An AGS poster, whom I believe works for one of the services that evaluate players for NFL teams, says this about Tripp: "He and Stephon Robertson are the two best linebackers in FCS for sure." I think Robertson plays for JMU.

This same poster also says this about the App St receivers: "It is by far the best group of receivers App has ever had."
 
uofmman1122 said:
I've heard there are quite a few NFL scouts that consider Tripp the best LB in FCS.

I wouldn't consider that overhyped. They seem to know what they're talking about.

I definitely see Tripp being drafted as opposed to being a "free agent" signee. My question is does anybody see Jordan cracking the top 100 picks? I think it's possible.
 
Super early to be talking about it but the NFL Draft Scout website lists Jordan Tripp as the 24th best OLB in the nation.

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/members/ratings/probe.php?genpos=OLB&draftyear=2014&sortby=tsxpos&order=ASC" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

As for Coyle he's not really on their radar yet, however McSurdy was the same way entering the 2011 season.

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=95160&draftyear=2014&genpos=ILB" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
 
BWahlberg said:
Super early to be talking about it but the NFL Draft Scout website lists Jordan Tripp as the 24th best OLB in the nation.

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/members/ratings/probe.php?genpos=OLB&draftyear=2014&sortby=tsxpos&order=ASC" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

As for Coyle he's not really on their radar yet, however McSurdy was the same way entering the 2011 season.

http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=95160&draftyear=2014&genpos=ILB" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I hear what you're saying about it being too early to discuss Tripp and the NFL Draft. My projection about him assumes he'll have a big 2013 season, remains healthy and has a good Combine. If Jordan does that, he could make some "noise" in the 2014 draft IMO. He has the size and speed. We'll see.
 
Then I have to disagree with the draft pundits. Coyle is the best LB on the team. Jordan is always trying to make the big play, but often gets burned. May be coaching. But Coyle is always there clogging the middle and making plays. You will see what I am talking about come December.
 
brian s said:
Then I have to disagree with the draft pundits. Coyle is the best LB on the team. Jordan is always trying to make the big play, but often gets burned. May be coaching. But Coyle is always there clogging the middle and making plays. You will see what I am talking about come December.
j.p. is better than both of them. he just doesn't play one of the glory positions. kind of like steve young waiting for montana to move along.
 
brian s said:
Here are some of my observations on the LB corps.

I got to disagree about JP being underrated. In fact, I think he played much better as a sophomore than as a junior. He disappeared in many games last season, and it seemed like many teams ran to his side consistently. Instead of being underrated, I think you will see other LBs get many more reps at his position as the season progresses. Just my opinion.

I also think Coyle is the best LB on the team. Tripp is hyped by everyone, but he gets burned way too easily because he thinks he can break the D-coverage and freelance all over the field. I think some of this is due to coach Greg.. touting him as another Troy Palomalu (sp.?) Coyle is a rock on defense, steady-eddy.

I agree that Kose will be a stud LB, and I think Owen and Van Ackeren can be awesome as well.

Do not know much about the others, with one exception. Schye, if he stays healthy, can be among the best LBs to play for the Griz in many years. Don't worry too much about his speed. It is there, and his football instincts and non-stop motor will make him a great one. Plays with a mean-streak that I love in a LB.
Couldn't agree more :thumb:
 
getgrizzy said:
brian s said:
Then I have to disagree with the draft pundits. Coyle is the best LB on the team. Jordan is always trying to make the big play, but often gets burned. May be coaching. But Coyle is always there clogging the middle and making plays. You will see what I am talking about come December.
j.p. is better than both of them. he just doesn't play one of the glory positions. kind of like steve young waiting for montana to move along.

Who is J.P.? A trainer?
 
brian s said:
getgrizzy said:
brian s said:
Then I have to disagree with the draft pundits. Coyle is the best LB on the team. Jordan is always trying to make the big play, but often gets burned. May be coaching. But Coyle is always there clogging the middle and making plays. You will see what I am talking about come December.
j.p. is better than both of them. he just doesn't play one of the glory positions. kind of like steve young waiting for montana to move along.

Who is J.P.? A trainer?
John Paul Kanongata'a
 
I watch the LBs quite a bit, because that is the position I played. I agree with much of what Brian and Brant said. I think Coyle had the better year last year out of the starters. I think JP had a bit of a down year (compared to his monster SO year) and Tripp was often trying to do too much. Saying that, they all were still very very good and were the strength of our defense.

It's difficult to compare Coyle and Tripp, they are both very different players who have much different responsibilities. The coaching staff put a lot more responsibility on Tripp than most Will backers are tasked with. Given that he just made the switch from Sam to Will last year, it shouldn't surprise that he wasn't perfect last year. Given he has an entire year under his belt playing Will and that he will be able to concern himself more with the duties of that position, I think he has a monster year for us. He's clearly the most gifted talent we've had at LB in a long long time... I think Coyle has pro talent, but he isn't as athletic at Tripp and he isn't as versatile.
 
HighLineGRIZ said:
I watch the LBs quite a bit, because that is the position I played. I agree with much of what Brian and Brant said. I think Coyle had the better year last year out of the starters. I think JP had a bit of a down year (compared to his monster SO year) and Tripp was often trying to do too much. Saying that, they all were still very very good and were the strength of our defense.

It's difficult to compare Coyle and Tripp, they are both very different players who have much different responsibilities. The coaching staff put a lot more responsibility on Tripp than most Will backers are tasked with. Given that he just made the switch from Sam to Will last year, it shouldn't surprise that he wasn't perfect last year. Given he has an entire year under his belt playing Will and that he will be able to concern himself more with the duties of that position, I think he has a monster year for us. He's clearly the most gifted talent we've had at LB in a long long time... I think Coyle has pro talent, but he isn't as athletic at Tripp and he isn't as versatile.
tripp was also coming off shoulder surgery and sat out a year. if his shoulder wasn't 100% that could explain part of the drop off.
 
I laugh at us arguing who is the best of our Linebackers, when any coach in the BSC would gladly take our 3rd best LB and would instantly start over any of his LB's. It's a good problem to have. Life is good and the Griz will have an amazing year in 2013.
 
Richard Cranium said:
I laugh at us arguing who is the best of our Linebackers, when any coach in the BSC would gladly take our 3rd best LB and would instantly start over any of his LB's. It's a good problem to have. Life is good and the Griz will have an amazing year in 2013.
You obviously don't know much about some of the other LB's out there in the BSC, IMO Coyle is the only one that would have a shot at starting for the Cats and even then I would take Na'a over him anyway.
UNC is pretty stacked at LB this year, not sure any of your guys would make starters there, EWU and SAC both have solid groups that your guys may not make the cut either.
 
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