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Breaking Through - Spring Ball Defensive Line Primer

Statistically speaking last season was a "Quiet" one for Defensive End Steven means. The Junior put up just two sacks and three tackles for a loss. Those numbers are down from his Freshman and Sophomore seasons in part because of schematic changes. The other reason for the change is the increase in quality among the front seven players. In 2009 he was pretty much "the guy" on the line, last year had to "compete" for numbers with outgoing Senior Ritchie Smith and up and coming defensive end Colby Way.

His pass rush related numbers may be down but in other areas Means has developed into a beast. Back in 2009 means was pretty much a guy who coaches sent in, with ears pinned back, to rush the Quarterback.

His game now is much more complete not only against the run, but also against the pass. Just ask Bowling Green who threw a pic to means that was returned 42 yards for a touchdown.

Means is still the same athlete he was in 2009, and still just as dangerous.

The Buffalo Native and Product of Grover Cleveland High School has moved into the role as "Dean of the UB Defensive Line". Now a senior Means knows that this is his last chance to make his mark on UB football, and most of the defensive players are looking to him for leadership.

"I'm trying to be the vocal leader on the team and trying to be a physical role model. We've got a lot of experience, so people are going to be ready to step up and make those plays we need to win these games."

Sacks Interceptions Tackles
G Sacks YdsL Int Yds IntTD Solo Ast Total
2011 - Steven Means 12 2.5 10 1 42 1 18 15 33

Losses on the Defensive Line:

Like the offensive side of the Ball the Defense only loses three starters. But unlike the offense the defensive losses are spread evenly across the units. The lone loss to graduation aomng last years starters is nose tackle Ritchie smith.

Smith's Heir Apparent is likely going to be Wyatt Cahill who was typically second to smith on the depth chart last season. Cahill is a Transfer from Scottsdale Community College who made appearenaces in every game last season. He racked up 15 tackles and a pass break up.

Pass D Tackles
G PBkup Solo Ast Total
2011 - Wyatt Cahill 12 1 7 8 15

This spring Cahill will be up against sophomore Dalton Barksdale who saw action in five games last year.

Come the summer Corey Madlock will do his best to make an impression at nose. Madlock was UB's first verbal last season. He has not yet enrolled but Coach Oliver has indicated he intends to put Madlock in the middle when he does arrive later this year.

On the other end the Job is Colby Way's to lose. Way, a junior out of State College Pennsylvania, worked his way into the starting lineup last season. He played in all 12 games and started five towards the end of the year.

Sacks Tackles
G Sacks YdsL Solo Ast Total
2011 - Colby Way 12 3 27 22 27 49

Way is an all around athlete who has ran the ball, returned kicks, and blocked two field goals in his UB career. He was signed as a Tight end / Defensive end and excelled at both while in High School.

Assuming that nobody really lights it up this spring there is your first team line. Means, Way, and Cahill should be the starting unit for Coach Oliver's.

The other nose tackles have been talked about but there are some other depth issues.

Kendall Patterson has moved over to end, presumably to fight for Gordon Dubois old spot behind Steven Means. Kristjan Sokoli played in ten games last season behind Cahill and made the most of it. As a freshman he put up 14 tackles, four for loss, and forced a fumble against Miami.

Given the raw talent returning there is no reason for this line not to exceed their performance in 2011. They took one big hit, Smith, but Cahill looked good in his own right last year.

This line is sitting in front of an experienced set of linebackers and a more experienced defensive backfield than they worked with last season. With two seniors (Means and Cahill) there is motivation to make 2012 a year when the Defense leads the team.

So far this spring the offense has had their way with the defense both running and passing. Some of this is no doubt due to the offensive line returning everyone but Ostrowski and the Defense implementing his new defense.