Utah State Defensive Line Preview

Utah State faces the challenge of replacing some of the car crash victims who are contributors on the Dline. What does it look like without them? Brian Phillips breaks it down pre fall camp.

One of the biggest storylines this offseason has centered around the Dline. Below we preview the outlook of the Defensive Line. The actual depth chart and reports from practice will only be here at UstateAggies.com

DEFENSIVE END

2014 Players not returning: B.J. Larsen (Gradutation; Undrafted Free Agent Buffalo Bills), Jordan Parkinson (Left Team)

Post 2015 Spring Ball attrition: Garrett Gregg (Left Team)

Returning Players: Adewale Adeoye, Ricky Ali'ifua, Eric Berntsen, Edmund Faimalo, Garrett Gregg, Clark Jeppesen, Jordan Nielsen, Siua Taufa, John Taylor, Ian Togiai

New Faces in 2015:

Christopher Unga 6'1" 270 (Scout 2*) - NG - Rancho Cucamonga HS, CA - (2014 Grayshirt; Signed 12/17/14; Currently Enrolled)

2011 (Soph.) Stats: 31 tackles 0.5 sacks

2012 (Jr.) Stats: 66 tackles 8 sacks

2013 (Sr.) Stats: 50 tackles 5 tackles for loss 4 sacks 2 QB hurries

Offers from: Arizona St, Hawaii, San Jose St

http://Utah State.scout.com/a.z?s=208&p=8&c=1&nid=7521391

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/553665/christopher-unga#

2015 OUTLOOK

Jordan Nielsen returns for his Senior season in 2015. Nielsen has been a major contributor along the Aggie Defensive Line since his Redshirt Freshman season. Nielsen was named an Honorable Mention All-Mountain West Conference performer in 2014 after he recorded 53 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery, while starting in all 14 games. Nielsen is described as a student of the game who has great size and length for his position, as well as an aggressive player who runs to the ball well. Nielsen is also known for having a great motor and attitude.

Senior John Taylor has miraculously recovered well enough from an off season car accident that he will be the next man up in the rotation behind Nielsen. Taylor saw action in all 14 games in 2014, logging 8 tackles and 0.5 sacks. Taylor is a strong player with a high motor and is really good off the edge as a pass rusher. Junior Eric Berntson appeared to make huge strides during Spring Ball. Berntson has seen very little action over his first two seasons. In fact Berntson did not appear in a single game in 2014. Berntson is a long athletic player who has a tremendous motor and is regarded as a great teammate. The Aggies need Berntson to be ready to contribute in 2015. Known to his teammates as "Grinder" because of his tremendous work ethic.

Sophomore Clark Jeppesen has been moved from Defensive Tackle to Defensive End. Jeppesen did not see any action for the Aggies in 2014 as a Redshirt Freshman. Jeppesen is thought of as a great teammate and has a willingness do whatever is asked of him. Jeppesen has good length for his position and continues to improve his technique, and he will be counted on to provide depth at the position in 2015. Redshirt Freshman Adewale Adeoye will possibly miss the entire season after suffering serious injuries in an off season car accident. Adeoye has great length and the ability to flat out run. Adeoye has a tremendous upside and exciting potential.

Junior Ricky Ali'ifua is looking to fill the huge hole left by departed Senior BJ Larsen. Ali'ifua recorded 22 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup, while participating in all 14 games in 2014. Ali'ifua is a very physical player who is very explosive and plays with great speed and quickness. Ali'ifua uses his hands well at the line of scrimmage and has the ability to be a great pass rusher. Ali'ifua may also be counted on to add depth to the Nose Guard spot as well in 2015.

Junior Siua Taufa is looking to build on a promising Sophomore season. Taufa saw action in 13 games in 2014 which included 1 start, while recording 14 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. Taufa is a strong defensive end that has good pass rushing ability and can hold point. Sophomore Ian Togiai has been moved from Outside Linebacker to Defensive End. Togiai recorded 1 tackle while participating primarily on Special Teams in 13 games in 2014. Togiai is a very good athlete with a great motor, who has good size and runs very well.

Adding depth to the position is True Freshman Chris Unga. Unga originally signed with the Aggies as part of the 2014 signing class, Unga then sat out the 2014 season as a grayshirt and joined the Aggies in January to participate in Spring Ball. Unga is quick off the ball, really explosive and strong, and has a lot of moxie and intangibles that just can't be taught. I think the coaching staff would really like to redshirt Unga, however with the depth of the Defensive Line taking such a serious hit with the off season car accident, Unga may be pressed into action sooner than expected at either the Defensive End position or the Nose Guard spot.

Redshirt Junior Edmund Faimalo will possibly miss the entire season after suffering serious injuries in an off season car accident. Failmalo was a huge signing for the Aggies during the 2014 signing class, as Faimalo spurned division rival Boise State very late in the recruiting process in order to sign with Utah State. Faimalo has drawn comparisions to former Aggie Al Lapuaho as Faimalo brings great length and strength to the defensive end position and has the ability to play several different positions along the Defensive Line.

PROJECTED 2015 DEPTH CHART

RIGHT DEFENSIVE END

97 Jordan Nielsen (6-5, 270, Sr., 3L)

52 John Taylor (6-2, 270, Sr., 1L)

94 Eric Berntson (6-4, 265, Jr., SQ)

90 Clark Jeppesen (6-4, 270, So., SQ)

55 Adewale Adeoye (6-4, 250, Fr., RS) (To Be Determined Due To Injury)

LEFT DEFENSIVE END

95 Ricky Ali’ifua (6-3, 280, Jr., 2L)

91 Siua Taufa (6-1, 270, Jr., 1L)

19 Ian Togiai (6-2, 255, So., 1L)

96 Chris Unga (6-1, 285, Fr., HS)

98 Edmund Faimalo (6-3, 280, Jr., RS) (To Be Determined Due To Injury)

NOSE GUARD

2014 Player not returning: Elvis Kamana-Matagi (Graduation)

Post 2015 Spring Ball attrition: None

Returning Players: David Moala, Gasetoto Schuster, Travis Seefeldt

New Faces in 2015:

Jacoby Wildman 6’3" 285 (Scout 2*) - NG - (Signed Grant-in-aid 2/6/13)

2010 (Soph.) Stats: 12 tackles

2011 (Jr.) Stats: 82 tackles 6.5 sacks 1 INT

2012 (Sr.) Stats: 60 tackles 6.5 sacks

http://utahstate.scout.com/player/168343-jacoby-wildman/recruiting

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/595262/jacoby-wildman

2015 OUTLOOK

The forecast for the Nose Guard spot begins on a bleak note, as it unfortunately appears more and more likely that returning part time starter, and major three year contributor Senior Travis Seefeldt will be unable to participate in the 2015 season as a result of suffering serious injuries in an off season car accident. The loss of Seefeldt means that the Aggies will be doing without a player that recorded 35 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 pass breakups, and 2 fumble recoveries, while seeing heavy action in all 14 games in 2014 which included 2 starts. Losing Seefeldt means that the Aggies are losing a very explosive and aggressive player in the middle of the field, who is very knowledgeable about the game, and also moves very, very well for his size. It is unknown at this time if Seefeldt will be eligible for a medical hardship waiver that would enable him to play his Senior season in 2016.

With Seefeldt basically ruled out for the year, Senior David Moala will have to step up big time. Moala started the 2014 season very slowly, after transferring to Utah State from Cerritos Community College in late August missing nearly the entire fall camp. However, once Moala got up to speed he began to become quite a force in the middle seeing more and more playing time as the seaon drew to a close. Moala finished the 2014 season with 8 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks, while seeing action in 10 games. Moala is a strong nose guard who has great quickness for his size, and with the loss of Seefeldt he will be looked upon to provide great senior leadership and production.

The Aggies are going to be looking for Redshirt Freshman Gasetoto Schuster to really show that he is ready to play in 2015. Schuster has shown he is a high character guy as prior to him signing with the Aggies in 2014, he turned down serious interest from SEC school Vanderbilt. Schuster is a strong nose guard that fits well into the Utah State 3-4 scheme.

Returning LDS missionary and True Freshman Jacoby Wildman will help add some depth to the spot. The coaching staff would most certainly prefer to redshirt Wildman but with the loss of Seefeldt, Wildman may be pressed into action a year earlier than was initially planned. Wildman is a tough, hard-nosed, physical defensive lineman that has all the intangibles to be a very good football player. Junior Defensive Lineman Ricky Ali'ifua has played some Nose Guard in the past and it seems with the loss of Seefeldt, he may very well be pressed into playing the position again in 2015.

PROJECTED 2015 DEPTH CHART

NOSE GUARD

51 David Moala (6-2, 300, Sr., 1L)

56 Gasetoto Schuster (6-1, 290, Fr., RS)

95 Ricky Ali’ifua (6-3, 280, Jr., 2L)

96 Chris Unga (6-1, 285, Fr., HS)

Jacoby Wildman (6-3, 285, Fr., HS)

70 Travis Seefeldt (6-2, 300, Sr., 3L) (Unlikey To Play Due To Injury)

Brian Phillips - Football Insider for UstateAggies.com


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