Bloomington, Ind. – After years of having guys who acted the part, IU finally has some defensive linemen who look the part as well.
As the Hoosiers close in on the start of fall camp, they'll do so feeling a whole lot better about their situation at defensive tackle. Gone are the days of undersized defensive tackles who had their hands full holding up against the 300-plus pound offensive linemen that Big Ten foes throw at defenses.
In their place is a quintet of defensive tackles that average 6-2 and 295 pounds. It's a group that consists of Joe Kremer, Greg Brown, Emile Bass, Keith Burrus and Kevin Burrus, and they all figure to see plenty of action this fall.
"Since we've been here, this is the most depth we've had, especially at defensive tackle," IU co-defensive coordinator Joe Palcic said. "We feel we have five defensive tackles that can play and play effectively for us."
The Hoosiers felt so good about their defensive tackle situation during the spring that the staff basically scrapped the traditional concept of having starters who play the majority of the game and replaced it with a rotation of defensive tackles after every three plays. While certain players will get more snaps than others once the season gets underway in September, everyone involves expects all five tackles to play extensively this season.
"It's a physical league," said IU Head Coach Bill Lynch. "When you play 12 straight weeks without a break, the more bodies you can throw at people, it's a great advantage. That's what the really good teams, do, and we finally have enough guys that we throw fresh guys at you."
The biggest name of the group is Brown, a 6-2, 299-pound junior who has 16 career starts to his credit. Brown totaled 42 tackles and 5 ½ tackles for loss a year ago and has the ability to be an All-Big Ten caliber player. He'll likely be joined on the first unit by the 6-2, 305-pound Kremer, a run-stuffing senior nose tackle who started 11 games a year ago.
Depth, meanwhile, will come from the Burrus twins and sophomore Emile Bass. Keith Burrus is a converted defensive end who gives IU more of a pass rushing threat inside, while Kevin is the biggest of the defensive tackle bunch at 6-2 and 320 pounds. Bass, meanwhile, can be a weapon against the run as well as a pass rushing threat.
"If you look in the NFL, they'll rotate those (defensive linemen) through," said Palcic. "Plus, we've got some guys who might be better on run downs. Kevin Burrus, he's 320 pounds, and he might be best in early downs, then get him out when we want to rush the passer."
It's the best situation Indiana has had on the interior of the defensive line in years, and it's a model that's been successful in the past.
"I know (IU defensive line coach) Brian (George) feels a lot better," said Lynch. "You have to keep them healthy and they have to get in shape, but we have depth there. The really good defenses they had at Miami (Ohio), they had that depth at tackle. You can't get enough of those guys."
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