MU Football 2001: The Defense

Here for your perusal is a position-by-position breakdown of the Marshall football defense 2001. Moving to a 4-4 set is never easy, but coordinator Kevin Kelly has all of the weapons he needs seemingly at his disposal. Smaller and faster than previous defenses at Marshall, this group possesses some depth as well.

Defensive Line

Only one returning starter from the 2000 season (senior DE Ralph Street) remains, and this makes the defensive line somewhat of a question mark going into the 2001 season. If Street needs backup, look for Maurice McKinney (6-3, 235) to answer the call. However, Street is the team-leader in sacks the last two seasons, so all that needs to be done is plug the holes around him with available talent.

"He's got to have a big year for us," said defensive line coach Bill Wilt. "We're going to be leaning on Ralph for a lot of things."

That talent comes in the form of Orlando Washington (6-2, 265) at one tackle spot, a position that Washington gained much experience at in a backup role last year. Washington did make 42 tackles, eight for loss, in that backup role. Now, it's his turn.

Washington will be backed up this year by UVa transfer Richard Rodgers (6-3, 280) and Toriano Brown (6-1, 277).

Marshall DE Kelvin Smith

Look for Marlan Hicks (6-4, 290) to man the other tackle spot on the defensive line. Hicks saw some action in 2000 as a backup and on short yardage situations. Nathan Leslie (6-4, 270) and Josh Cordell (6-5, 270) are Hicks' understudies this year.

"We've got some good players up there," said defensive line coach Bill Wilt. "We've got some inexperience, but the nature of our front will enable us to overcome that inexperience."

Junior college transfer Kelvin Smith (6-4, 265) will occupy the end position that was left open with the graduation of Paul Toviessi to the NFL. Smith did gain playing time in 2000 at the end position, primarily in relief of Toviessi, and looks to have a solid senior season as the starter.

Newcomers that will get thrown into the defensive line mix include: Josh Blakey (6-4, 298), Kingsley Clark (6-5, 225), Jonathan Goddard (6-1, 250), Justin Grogg (6-1, 250), Reggie Hayes (6-4, 250), Josh Kannell (6-1, 261), Jamus Martin (6-3, 235), and Ricardo Scott (6-2, 234). Clark has spent some time in summer drills playing linebacker, so that switch may affect the backup spots somewhat.

Linebacker

Again, three words: Max, Max, and Max. Senior linebacker Max Yates (6-3, 235) is the anchor in the Marshall defense. Yates is coming off a stellar 2000 season, in which he amassed 115 tackles, 74 solo. However, the defensive scheme changed late in the 2000 season, and now Yates finds himself in more of a cover-and-pursue position.

Marshall linebacker 'Mad' Max Yates

Partnering up with Yates at the inside linebacker spot will be Alonzo Jones (6-1, 220), who began the 2000 season as the starter at outside linebacker, only to land in coach Kelly's doghouse midway through the season, losing valuable playing time. Jones has since redoubled his efforts, and is projected to be the starter at the outside spot.

"It's going to take 4, 5, maybe 6 guys, so we can keep them fresh," linebackers coach Mark Gale said of his planned rotation at the linebacker spot. "We go to Gainesville, then two weeks later go to Fort Worth. Because of the head and humidity we'll be facing."

Duran Smith (6-0, 225) will be the backup to Yates, while Sam Goines (6-1, 218) will come in in relief of Jones.

Hanging on the outside will be Michael Owens (Kool-Aid)(5-11, 212), one of the hardest hitters in the MAC. Gladstone Coke (now wearing #1)(5-11, 195) will provide backup to Owens.

Former safety Larry Davis (6-2, 200) will fill the other outside linebacker role. Davis managed 25 tackles and one interception in the defensive backfield in 2000. He'll be supported by Charlie Tynes (6-1, 210) as backup.

Newcomers to keep an eye on: Kevin Atkins (6-3, 230), Ashley McNeely (6-2, 210), Henry Moore (5-11, 220), Carlos Morgan, Ben Poe (6-1, 195), DaMarcus Thomas (6-1, 240), Dionte' Wilson (6-2, 210), and Jesse Wisnewski (6-2, 225).

Defensive Backs

Losing three defensive backs to graduation is never easy, but Marshall defensive coordinator Kevin Kelly has some ample replacements ready to rock in 2001.

Chris Crocker(5-11, 195) will man the free safety position, building upon his two years of considerable experience playing in a backup role in the secondary. Crocker had 56 tackles and 3 interceptions last year as a sophomore, and should improve those numbers dramatically in 2001. Crocker will be aided by Fardan Carter (5-10, 180), who also has valuable game experience, and had a nice scrimmage last Saturday. Carter did have 14 tackles as a cornerback in 2001.

Juniors Terence Tarpley (5-10, 185) and Yancey Satterwhite (5-10, 175) will man the cornerback spots, replacing graduated seniors Danny Derricott and Maurice Hines. Tarpley and Satterwhite bring more valuable backup experience to the table, and should hold their own quite well at the corners in 2001. Tarpley had 20 tackles, and Satterwhite 26, in 2000.

Backups come in the form of two redshirt freshmen, Dorian Williams (5-8, 158) and Renaldo Williams (5-9, 178). Impressing observers in summer drills, and vying for playing time this year, are Roberto Terrell (5-9, 175) and Jimmy Tyson (5-7, 160). Both are fast, fast, fast.

Newcomers to keep an eye on include freshman sensation Moriah Anderson, sophomore Marquis Huggins, freshmen Garrett Morrison, J.T. Rembert, Wilie Smith, Dennis Thornton, Scott Wilks, and sophomore Shawn Wilkerson.


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