Jones’ opinion on the subject might differ. What he and the entire Dog defensive line can agree on is how a bigger, older, and better Torrey Dale is a winner for this unit. The fourth-fall junior expects 2015 to be his breakout season with Mississippi State.
“I think I’ve taken major strides from where I was last year,” Dale said. “To give myself a better opportunity to get out there and make some plays.”
Dale has made some plays in his first two varsity seasons. As a backup defensive end last fall he got in on four tackles. One went for a sack, while he had another hurry and broke up a pass. Not a lot of numbers for eleven games-played, but enough to show there is potential to be tapped.
Which is Dale’s goal now that he’s grown-up, both of age (turning 22 in July) and increasingly of body. Emphasis on ‘increasingly’.
“Well, first I got my weight up, from about 250 to 270 (better than his pre-spring listing of 255 pounds). So now I add to my leverage. And I’ve been going hard in the weightroom. I use that on the field to get off blocks.”
It sounds like his real lifting was done at the training table. Certainly Dale didn’t stint on his efforts there, or at home, or much anywhere as he devoured…well, what specifically? “Everything!”
“I ate about four to five times a day. And then I started going harder in the weightroom, I just took that on myself. And it just came, the weight.” All the while with envious line-mates such as Jones, who is still trying to trim a few for the coming season, could only watch. And probably grumble. Per strength coach Rick Court’s instructions Dale and redshirt Will Coleman, also a defensive end, were supposed to come back bigger.
“But that’s about all that needed to gain. Me and him.”
With Preston Smith moving on to professional football Dale, Coleman, Grant Harris, John Calvin, et.al., have their chance to gain a lot of playing time on either end. Coming out of spring ball senior Ryan Brown and junior A.J. Jefferson have what looked like good grips on the starting jobs. But there are obvious rotation roles for the taking, too, along with special short yardage and goal line packages.
So Dale sees the junior year as his opportunity to get into the thick of things. Line coach David Turner had some good words in spring.
“He said I’ve made some great improvements. Obviously I still have some improvements to go. But I think he likes the way I’m playing. I just need to keep building.”
Building the body and the mind alike. Observers believe Dale can become a real factor at this mid-point of his college career. It’s just adding the finer points of playing end in the SEC needed to round-out the package. Dale spent spring addressing them.
“I really wanted to work on my get-off, and coming off the ball and stopping the offensive tackle’s momentum. I think I really worked on that in the spring and winter and brought it out here. And it’s been paying off for myself.” So has that extra weight of course, which give Dale more oomph getting off the line.
Or, holding his position in the ground game which Dale says is his stronger point up to now.
“I think I can do it all. But I’d have to go with run. I like the run. Just being able to out-man somebody else, me against them and stop them, make a play.” If this has the ring of an old-school lineman, yep, you’ve got it. “I like the muscle-on-muscle.”
But in today’s spread-offense-ruled college game, ends earn most attention by bagging quarterbacks. Sacks, that is something Dale expects to see more of. “Now that’s what comes with d-end. So I look forward to doing that. You know, that’s basically a touchdown, making a touchdown for us. So I love that, too.”
Interestingly, Dale hasn’t seen any major technical or tactical changes in the defensive line’s plans with new coordinator Manny Diaz.
“No, I feel the scheme is all about hard work. You get what you put in.” Sorta like his meal plan, huh? Seriously though the incentive for work—before, during, and now maybe more so after spring—is greater. Dale also is borrowing whatever tips and tricks he can from his fellow ends, be it run-stuffer Brown or pass-rush ace Jefferson.“You know Ryan is a senior, we came in together but he didn’t redshirt, he played freshman to now. So he’s on the second year starting, so when I have questions or try to play like somebody I ask him. On the flip-side, A.J. is a good player too. So I learn from both of them and take what I can.”
“I like to watch their hand movements, how they get their hips around, how they swipe off hands on offensive tackles on pass plays. Anything I can, anything I can take from them. They’re great guys.”
2015 can become Dale’s turn to join those guys in the regular rotation. “I think I’ve improved everywhere. But I still have major improvements to make before the season gets here.”
He also has some more eating to do, so if you’ll excuse him…