August 18, 2011

2nd Scrimmage Defensive Recap

Overall the defense allowed a lot of yardage through the air and on the ground in yesterday's scrimmage. The bright spot was that the unit held the offense to a field goal on 4-of-5 red zone trips. Here's a look at each position.

Defensive Line

With Kaleb Ramsey out, Dillon Quinn and Conor O'Neal started at defensive tackle, with Max Holloway and Kasim Edebali on the outside. Holloway had his best scrimmage of the season to date as there were three passing plays where he made Chase Rettig throw a pass a little quicker than he probably wanted to. Holloway played decent defending the run as well, one time coming off the edge and running behind the offense line to tackle Andre Williams from behind.

The starters on the 2nd team were Mehdi Abdesmad and Connor Wujciak at the ends, and Dominic Appiah and Bryan Murray at the tackles. Appiah turned in his most impressive performance as an Eagle to date picking up a sack and a registering a couple of quarterback hurries, along with doing an excellent job of stopping the run. He didn't necessarily make a lot of tackles on the stat sheet, but he plugged up a number of holes to force the running backs to bounce it outside. Abdesmad didn't have as many hurries as he has in the past, but did bat down two passes.


Surprisingly the linebackers weren't as sharp as usual to start the scrimmage. The tight ends had success over the middle against them, and Andre Williams even spun away from a tackle attempt by Kevin Pierre-Louis, which you rarely if ever see happen (kudos to Williams for a great spin move). After a series or two KPL, Luke Kuechly, and Steele Divitto became tackling machines. KPL and Kuechly in particular were the key reasons that the defense was stopping the offense inside the red zone. Kuechly finished with 10 tackles and KPL had 6.

Divitto got the start at SAM linebacker, and Nick Clancy started with the 2nd team, although he did see time with the 1st team later in the scrimmage. Both players were active and compiled multiple tackles. Divitto might have had the nicest tackle of the night when he took down Tahj Kimble in a 1-on-1 showdown in the flat. Of course the same play developed on the next snap and Kimble juked Divitto and went by him for 15 yards.

The one thing separating the two SAM linebackers right now is that Divitto seems to get off of blocks a little quicker than Clancy does.


C.J. Jones got a chance to start at boundary corner and did some nice things. At the start of the scrimmage, Jones read a running play by Williams to a tee and came flying in to take him down 4 yards behind the line of scrimmage. On the flip side, Jones had a long pass to Ifeanyi Momah fly over his head for a 45 yard gain. It was tough to tell though whether Jones or his safety was the one out of position. Jones had a little bit of bad luck because it seemed like a few of Rettig's perfect passes were ones made at his responsibility.

Donnie Fletcher started at the field corner but left about midway through the scrimmage when wide receiver Bobby Swigert put a vicious hit on him in an attempt to avoid being tackled. Fletcher was replaced by Albert Louis-Jean who did a fantastic job going against the starters. ALJ hardly got thrown at at all.

Jim Noel turned in a nice performance against the 2nd team. Noel was physical with the receivers and did a good job of funneling them to the safeties. One negative was that Noel was beat deep by Alex Amidon on a play that looked like it was headed for 6. Give credit to Noel though because he reached out and nudged Amidon off course to prevent the touchdown. Noel was flagged, but it was the smart thing to do in the situation he was in.

Manny Asprilla got more action than usual because of the injury to Fletcher. The good news is that Asprilla looks to be a solid tackler and doesn't let anyone out of his grasp. The bad news is that Asprilla looked a little out of position at field corner, as Donte Elliot caught two passes of over 45 yards that were both completed on plays were Elliot just outran the corner.

Okechukwu Okoroha really brought the lumber in this one. He was another key reason why the defense was so successful in the red zone because he made a couple of short yardage tackles himself.

I really like what I'm seeing out of Dominique Williams. I'm not saying he's ready to be a starter or anything, but the guy just likes to get his nose dirty even when it looks like the play won't make it to him.

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