LEXINGTON, Ky. -- On the defensive side of the ball, no position plays a more critical role than the defensive line. The line's play greatly affects the success of both the linebackers and defensive backs.
The 2005 Wildcat defense will look to its defensive line to set its tone by concentrating on stopping the run. Last season the Cats struggled in that area, making it priority number one that opponent running games be stymied this year.
"For the defensive line, a main goal of ours is to stop the run," senior defensive end B. Jay Parsons said. "Last year our play against the run wasn't acceptable to us or our coaches. We want to take the field this year and make things happen."
Improving UK's run defense is a priority to new defensive line coach Rick Petri.
Petri, formerly at Ole Miss, has liked the development of his line since coming to Lexington in March.
"I'm pleased with the progress of our defensive line right now," Petri said. "I think with every practice, they become more and more aware of what we are trying to accomplish as a defense. They are realizing how important their technique is."
The focus on technique is just part of the difference Petri has brought to the team, according to his players.
"We have been making some big strides since last year," junior nose tackle Lamar Mills said. "Coach Petri has us going in the right direction. He has done a lot for us. Were more explosive off the ball. We're coming off blocks well and in the pass rush we are getting up the field better."
Parsons, a high energy player, and Mills, whom Petri calls one of his steadiest players, will be just two of the players counted on to step up and make it difficult for the other teams to run the ball.
Two starters who will be counted on to be difference-makers are players who will be changing positions this fall.
Trey Mielsch, a native of El Maton, Texas, will be moving from defensive end to tackle. Chosen as the Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award by the coaches last season, has the full confidence of his new D-Line coach that he'll be successful at tackle.
"Trey Mielsch has been very steady this fall," Petri said. "He comes out every day with a plan with what he wants to improve on. His technique has become much improved as well."
Junior Durrell White, who started 10 games at linebacker, will line up opposite Parsons at defensive end. White brings great athleticism to the Cats' line and will help the outside pass rush.
Fall camp injuries to last season's All-SEC freshman Ricky Abren and fellow sophomore Jason Leger, both out indefinitely, raised tremendous competition for the backup spots at tackle.
A pair of freshmen, Ventrell Jenkins from Columbia, S.C., and Myron Pyror of Louisville, will be counted on early to step up their play and help while their teammates are out with injuries.
At defensive end, redshirt freshman Nii Adjei Oniku and sophomore Travis Day both proved to the coaches that they were capable of being counted on this fall.
With the season ready to kickoff on Sunday, the mission for the defensive line is clear.
The unit will be looking to shut down the opponent's ability to run the football and give their team the best chance to win throughout the season.
Defensive Line Up Front in Stopping the Run
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