A bigger, stronger and deeper defensive front will play a pivitol role for the improvement that is expected from the Western Kentucky defense in 2015.
The struggles of 2014 have been well documented. Second half comebacks seemed to be a norm, as the smaller Hilltopper defensive tackles became worn out. Senior Bryan Shorter, who registered 5.5 sacks last fall, ended the season weighing 249-pounds, easily the smaller side of modern day defensive tackles.
“We were very small and we got knocked around,” said third-year WKU defensive tackle coach Don Dunn. “I think you could tell in the third and fourth quarters of last year that we didn't play very well upfront. We put a lot of stress on our defense. We didn't get enough pressure and we didn't get enough sacks. We held up in the first half, if you remember, and then just ran out of gas.”
The priority during the off season was to get bigger and the Hilltoppers did just that. Off season conditioning up the size and strength of all on the line. Shorter reported for fall camp 31-pounds heavier than his season-ending size.
Morris, who Dunn described as a “true nose guard,” comes with experience, playing three seasons in Birmingham, where he started 11 games for the Blazers in 2014.
“Believe it or not, he's one of our leaders and that's unusual for a kid to come in first year and be a leader,” Dunn said, adding that the experience Morris gained at UAB “will really help us.”
Bryant, who was an All-Conference selection last season after leading his squad in total tackles, is proving to be a “really a good pass rusher,” according to Dunn.
The emergence along the front provides Dunn with the opportunity to rotate players throughout the game, allowing his players to remain fresh for all four quarters.
“I am excited that we do have more depth,” he said. “I just got to get them ready to play.”
Now ten days into fall camp, the Hilltoppers continue to make progress on the defensive side of the ball. Following Saturday's scrimmage, Dunn is pleased with his groups development.
“I am,” he said. “I felt like we made some progress. We still need to get more pressure on the quarterback and I know a couple times we were out of our gaps, but those are all things that we can correct and work on. I'm very pleased, for being ten days in.”
Check out the entire conversation with Coach Dunn below: