You can see why Senior Barry Cofield has been moved inside to play defensive tackle.-- da Coach
He's not your proto-typical big fat guy in the middle - Barry still looks like he could play Defensive End, but at 6-4, 300+ lbs, his talents seem destined for the inside.
He, and his fellow man inside, Trevor Schultz, terrorized the middle Saturday, especially in the full team drills, leaving the way open for the ends, particularly soph David Ngene to do a little run stuffing. Loren Howard, who is nursing his ankles, will add even more pressure up front, something the Cats need to help shut down the opponents' passing games in 2005.
So here's my "What if:" What if the Cats had been able to play Barry C inside last year, with Luis Castillo.?
The 3-C's; Luis Castillo, Colby Clark and Barry Cofield along with Loren Howard were supposed to provide a dominating presence up front last year, with Cofield and Castillo plugging the middle and Clark playing anvil to Howard's hammer. Howard's injury the week before the season forced Cofield to play outside, changing the entire setup, 7 days before the first game.
I personally would have loved to see the very aggressive Colby Clark on a pass rush from the end position, and Cofield's power helping Castillo inside, but we never got there and the Wildcat D got a lot of passing yards tacked on because the rush wasn't 100%
NU's D-Line coach Eric Washington still has a problem with injured players - he still isn't able to totally evaluate his kids, because too many D-Linemen are wearing orange shirts. But he's not leaning over his guys this year, he's stepping back, watching their foot placement, trying to get the rust off some guys who have to step up and fill some big shoes.
Washington calls Castillo "the best overall D-Lineman" he's ever coached, but he quickly will tell you that this year Barry Cofield, "is the most powerful" lineman he's ever worked with on the field. He'll also quickly point out that Cofield's talents let him play over the Center as a Nose Tackle in both the 4-3 and 3-4, leading the way for the linebackers up the middle, and at the traditional DT slot in a 4-3.
Now, in some ways, the orange shirts are helping the defensive depth - the backups are having to play a lot this spring and Cofield gets a lot of reps inside - but unless a lot of the little injuries heal fast, the spring game is again going to be more of a 11 on 11 scrimmage than an actual Spring Game.
But unless there's a freak accident, NU's "Most Powerful Lineman" will be plugging the middle for the Cats this year, replacing one of NU's bone fide pro prospects.
Right now, it looks like he's got the job covered.
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