Bowling Or Bust (Part II)

On Sunday we started our 2-part series and now we conclude it with focusing on what the defense must do in order to better last years win total.

Texas State is fielding a defense that is replacing all four starting D-lineman and replacing three out of five DB's in the secondary. The stacked line-backing corp led by seniors Mike Orakpo and David Mayo will be the heart of the defense. So it isn't too difficult to see where the two key areas for improvement must happen for the defense.

(Stepping up on the D-line)

In the Week 1 depth chart, Kris Peterson (Sr.), Dallas McClarty (So.), Mershad Dillon (Jr.) and Michael Odiari (Sr.) get first crack at it. Karee Berry (Rs Fr.), Dondre Elvoid (Jr.), Brian Guendling, and others will also see plenty of time to establish themselves in the 2-deep. Within this group, who will step up and take charge in the trenches?

Physically, newcomers Dondre Elvoid (6'4" 305lbs) and Mershad Dillon (6'3" 300lbs) are the most daunting. On the edge, Kris Peterson has shown steady improvement and possess nice size and a good step. Still light at 225lbs, but Karee Berry has shown good quickness of the edge.

As a whole, the defense accounted for 18 sacks in 2013. 10 and 1/2 of them by the d-line. Michael Odiari is the leading returning d-lineman in that category with 3 to his credit. It will require a dramatic increase of pressure and output for the defense to not only remain on par, but better than last season's effort.

Utilizing Defensive Coordinator John Thompson's blitzing schemes, could just be what helps the D-line be that much more effective from a standpoint of getting to the QB. With this inexperienced group, any advantage they can get will only be a benefit.

(Patrolling the Secondary)

Two out of five starters return in corner Craig Mager (Sr.) and free safety Colby Targun (Sr.). Unproven youth lines up next to them and size is a bit of a concern. No starting DB is listed taller than 5'11" or heavier than 196lbs. Germod Williams (So.), Aaron Shaw (Jr.), and David Mims II (Jr.) are listed as the new starters in the secondary.

Texas State forced 11 INT's last season and of those picks, only 2 are credited to returning DB's, Williams and Targun with one each. The Bobcats 11 oskies tied their opponents who also finished with 11. The key will be aggression, instincts, and technique. That's something that has been reinforced over and over by DC John Thompson and Secondary Coach Jason Washington. With the Bobcats set to bring more pressure, the secondary will be left to fend for it's own and make a play, or give up the big yards.

Similar to the D-line, there is plenty of young talent, just un-tested. With 2 sophomores and 2 freshman in the 2-Deep, you can bet there will be highs and lows. Williams, only a sophomore has become one of the young vocal leaders of the defense. Senior Craig Mager is a very solid anchor at one corner spot as he led the team as a junior in both passes defended (9) and passes broken up (9).

Look for young DB's Clarence Guidry III (Fr.), Brandon McDowell (RS Fr.) and Damani Alexcee (So.) to get PT. Junior safeties Trey Garrett and Demetrius Woodard also provide depth at the safety spot. Aaron Shaw (Jr.) opened some eyes by earning the starting nod at one safety spot after an impressive fall camp and all eyes will be on him early on.

Both units are linked to each other. If the defensive line is successful in attacking and getting more pressure on the QB, the secondary will thrive. Whether it's errant or rushed throws, it'll be up to those ball hawks in the maroon and gold to jump on it. The opposite could also occur. If the D-line does not get pressure on opposing QB's, it could be disastrous for the secondary trying to hang on for dear life. Either one could be an achilles heel for going bowling or bust from the defensive side.

Talk about our "Bowling or Bust, Part II" piece in the 'Cats Den Insider Forum

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