Post spring look: Defensive line

Post spring look: Defensive line

The biggest news on the defensive line was their new coach Joe Seumalo. He immediately connected with his players and his tenacity for fundamentals is just what the line needed. Seumalo also brings playing experience from the college ranks, which the players respect and appreciate. Similar to what the offensive line does, the defensive line was often times in the corner working on their body position and hand placement over and over again.

Depth chart beginning of April:

RE: Jeff Van Orsow, Victor Butler, Jeff Kruskamp
DT: Curtis Coker, William Vea, Naymon Frank
DT: Ben Siegert, Pernell Booth
LE: Joe Lemma, Joe Rudulph, Dorian Smith

 

Depth chart beginning of April:

RE: Jeff Van Orsow, Victor Butler, Jeff Kruskamp
DT: Curtis Coker, William Vea, Naymon Frank
DT: Ben Siegert, Pernell Booth
LE: Joe Lemma, Joe Rudulph, Dorian Smith

 

Injuries:
  • Victor Butler played with a soft cast on his left hand the whole month.

 

Overview:

The biggest news on the defensive line was their new coach Joe Seumalo.  He immediately connected with his players and his tenacity for fundamentals is just what the line needed.  Seumalo also brings playing experience from the college ranks, which the players respect and appreciate.  Similar to what the offensive line does, the defensive line was often times in the corner working on their body position and hand placement over and over again.

With a new focus at practice and motivation from last year's abysmal performance the defensive ends hard work started to pay off at the end of the month as they started to push the offensive line around and get to the quarterbacks.  Jeff Van Orsow recorded six sacks in two scrimmages while Joe Rudulph and Joe Lemma added a sack a piece in the spring game.

Before getting too excited I felt there were several factors working in the lines favor the last few weeks.  First, two of the starting wide receivers were injured and the backups failed to get open resulting in sacks.  Second, the secondary improved giving the line more time to get in the backfield.   But the line was not given the sacks, they worked hard and put themselves in situations to make plays.

Part of putting themselves in the right situation is the defensive play calling.  The coaches are willing to experiment with players in different positions.  For example, Van Orsow lined up all over the line at either end, at defensive tackle or he was dropped into coverage. 

Out of the defensive ends Van Orsow had the best spring.  Riley loves his hardnosed attitude and his versatility.   He relies on his speed to get to the outside, which sometimes works, but sometimes he rushes past the quarterback as the lineman just keeps pushing him downfield.  Joe Lemma is the most experienced end on the line while Joe Rudulph is the most physically gifted athlete in the unit, but just can't seem to get over the mental hump.  Everybody is waiting for Rudulph to have a breakout camp, but time is running out for the junior.

Victor Butler, who will be without a cast in the fall, is also in the mix along with junior college transfer Dorian Smith who showed up to camp late and out of shape.  The coaches expected big things out of Smith, but he has plenty of work to do in the off-season if he has dreams of grabbing a starting spot.  If the football gods smile towards Corvallis then Keith Robertson will suit up for the orange and black, but until then...don't hold your breath.

The most consistent part of the defense last year was the run defense.  The defensive tackles anchored the middle of the field making it almost impossible to run up the middle.  Ben Siegert returns as a part time starter and is fully healed.  He is capable of dominating his section of the turf and could be a stable force.  William Vea and Pernell Booth both looked in shape and quick.  Each will receive considerable playing time as backups.

Curtis Coker has the other starting tackle position for now, but is being pushed by Vea.  Nayman Frank added 30 pounds of muscle and was moved back from the offensive line.  There is a good base of talent at the tackle positions and it will only get better when Gerard Lee, whom the coaches are extremely excited about, arrives in the fall.

Bottom line is that the defensive ends must perform better than last year.  A good pass defense starts with a good rush.

 

Top spring performer:

Jeff Van Orsow.  I didn't feel anyone really stood out, but Van Orsow stayed focused and motivated every snap, every drill.  Plus, as his quote illustrates below, he is very conciseness that he must perform.

 

DL spring summary in three sentences or less:

Overall the defensive line is better with Coach Seumalo.  The defensive ends need to step up while the defensive tackles appear deep and talented.

 

Notable quotes:

Jeff Van Orsow - "Every day it's a fight. We've got JC transfers coming in, always trying to take my spot. It's always a dogfight."

Joe Lemma - "I feel that we're up here in Corvallis and no one expects anything from us, but I want to do more. We definitely have something
to prove. We feel it's us against the whole nation, especially the last two years."

Ben Siegert - "We’re meshing together really well. We’re developing a chemistry. Everybody is competing for a spot. Nobody gets complacent. We all just grind every day.”

 

Who's coming in the fall:

 

Additional links :

 

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Next - Linebackers

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