Scouting Report: UNI D-Line and Defense

Entering the 2008 season, UNI brings their six-game road-winning streak to LaVell Edwards Stadium, and with it a defense that was instrumental in helping the Panthers achieve a record of 12-1 last year. Bringing the Panther scouting report is David Oswald and Max Hall. Also, tight end Braden Brown talks about playing on the scout team and helping the Cougar defenders prepare for their opponents.

The star of UNI's defensive line is defensive end James Ruffin. Ruffin comes in at 6 feet 4 inches and 265 pounds, and last year was named a First-Team All-Gateway selection thanks in part to his eight tackles for a loss. He also racked up 3.5 sacks - including one against Iowa State - during the 2007 season, good for third on the team.

"Their field end is pretty fast," said David Oswald. "He's probably their fastest lineman they have on the team and he's pretty good. He'll match up with our left tackle, so it will be [Matt Reynolds'] job to stop him, but he's probably their fastest guy off the line."

"At Northern Iowa they're a good team, and they've got a lot of returning guys up front," said Cougar quarterback Max Hall. "They've got a pretty tough defensive line from what we've seen on film, so our offensive line has to be on point and on time."

The four down linemen the BYU offensive line will face will be similar in size to those that the Cougars face during each practice.

"They have pretty big guys up front," said Oswald. "I wouldn't say they're the biggest guys, but they move well."

Oswald said that the players he and his teammates will face in the trenches are about 6 feet 4 inches and 260 pounds.

One such player is Chuck Kinney, who was a starting interior lineman last season in all 13 games for the Panthers. He was a primary force in the middle and was credited with six stops in the Panthers' 24-13 win over Iowa State last year. Also lining up on the Panther defensive line will be 6-foot-6-inch, 305-pound Everette Pedescleaux, who was credited with two blocked kicks to tie a UNI single-game record. Pedescleaux.

"They're not so much speed guys but more power rushers," said Oswald. "They'll rush the edge but they're not as fast as [James Ruffin]. They are guys that have sound technique and play hard. You can tell they've been coached well."

In a former scouting report here at Total Blue Sports, cornerback G Pittman mentioned that many of the UNI offensive players are talented enough to play Division I football. Oswald feels much the same. In fact, he feels the Panther defense plays similar to some defenses within the Mountain West Conference.

"I would compare their team to quite a few of our teams in our conference," Oswald said. "They may not be Division I, but they play similar to teams in our conference. They went 12-1 last year and beat a lot of good quality teams. I would compare them to a Colorado State or a UNLV, the teams that have four down linemen that are pretty good athletes and are assignment-sound players."

"Yeah I think many of those guys could play in this conference," said Hall. "They play similarly to UNLV and play a Tampa two. I think they have just as good of quality athletes, if not better. They're not the biggest guys but they're fairly quick. They're really good with their fundamentals and they're fairly quick at getting to the quarterback. Our guys just have to stay in front and make sure they hold their blocks. We just can't get lazy."

The Panther defensive formations will vary depending on the situation, which is to be expected. Running back Wayne Latu mentioned that the Panther defense often lines up out of a 4-2-5 defensive formation. This means the Panther coaches would supplement a linebacker for an extra safety.

"They play a lot of cover two and Tampa two," said Hall. "Oftentimes they'll invert down and play a cover three, so we have to watch for that. We have to be prepared because they'll drop guys back at times in coverage and bring their linebackers on blitzes up the middle.

"For me, I have to pay attention and read my keys. I have to pay attention to the safeties and then make the right reads."

However, the Panthers also run a 4-3-4 defense as one of their base packages, opting to use a linebacker to help cover or blitz.

"Northern Iowa plays a 4-3-4 defense, which is a pretty standard defense," said Oswald. "They have a pretty athletic defense and like to run various formations depending on the situation. They're pretty much a 4-3 defense but like to mix it up, but that's only if it's third and long or something like that. They'll bring in a safety in place of a linebacker."

"I think we should be able to run the ball pretty effectively on them," said Hall. "It's really just managing the game, but I think we'll be able to move the ball fairly well and score a lot of points."

Switching gears from offense to defense, freshman tight end Braden Brown has been given the task of helping the first-string Cougar defenders a good look at what they'll face come game day at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Braden talked with TBS about playing on the scout team and helping prepare the Cougar defenders for their opponents.

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