After a preseason filled with high expectations (possibly to high) and awards, senior Margus Hunt seemed unable to fulfill the predictions made by others. Ranked the No. 1 ‘freak' in college football, and being hailed as a potential early round pick, Hunt was able to rank up only a total of six sacks and no forced fumbles. As the defense behind him performed admirably, at times Hunt seemed to disappear in key games, and seemed troubled to find a good rhythm all season. Hunt, however, did excel on special teams blocking numerous field goal and extra point attempts.
Along side Hunt were fellow seniors Torlan Pittman and Kevin Grenier. Pittman did a nice job of clogging up the middle and stuffing the run while Grenier didn't exactly perform up to par, notching just 24 tackles and half a sack. Reserve senior Aaron Davis rotated in at both nose tackle and defensive and was productive in spot duty with 32 tackles and half a sack. But overall, this unit was not the strength of the defense it was expected to be, as they did struggle against dual-threat quarterbacks and the run. However the defensive line did have games of brilliance, including against TCU and Houston where they put consistent pressure on the opposing quarterbacks.
As the defensive line lose four seniors, a lot of new faces will be seen on the line, and will have to adapt fast to the college game. Beau Barnes and Elie Nabushosi are two names that could see lots of playing time next season at defensive end, as is Zach Wood. Nose tackle is a big question mark but sophomore Darrian Wright appears to the frontrunner to start next season.
Future Mustangs Zelt Minor and Spencer Hollie will both be given the opportunity to play early on in their careers and may have to step up right away due to a lack of depth on the defensive line next season. Tom Mason will also lose key defensive players Ja'Gared Davis and Taylor Reed, so being able to develop a stable defensive line will be important as the transition from Davis and Reed occurs.
Position Review: Defensive Line
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