Defense needs work on sacking opposing quarterbacks
Last season the Central Michigan defensive line sacked the quarterback 13 times in 12 games – 110th worst out of the 120 FBS teams.
Senior defensive tackle Steve Winston said the defensive line will improve on getting to the quarterback this season, before the question even fully left the reporters mouth Monday.
“Yeah, most definitely,” he said emphatically. “We’ve been emphasizing it over the offseason. We want to prove the naysayers wrong.”
Matt Losiniecki led the Chippewas with two sacks last season in the nine games he played as a true freshman. This year, he will be the starting nose guard to start the season.
Senior defensive back Taylor Bradley is sold on the fact that Winston and the line will do better than last season.
“The defensive line is the most improved position group in my mind,” Bradley said. “They are going to make plays this year.”
At defensive end, CMU will start senior Joe Kinville and junior Kenny McClendon. The two combined for two sacks last season, while McClendon played a limited role.
“We are a senior-led defensive line,” Winston said. “We have five seniors right now, and I think we’re all playing well. The underclassmen are playing well, and the seniors are leading the group.”
He went on to say he is expecting big seasons from seniors Kinville, McClendon, Chris Reeves and sophomore Leterrius Walton. Winston said the young guys that got experience last year are improving too.
“The underclassmen are helping out our depth especially inside,” he said. “Shafer Johnson is coming off his redshirt year and getting bigger, strong and practicing his technique.”
When the defensive line puts pressure on the quarterback, it causes havoc on the opposing team’s passing game, and makes life easier for the defensive backs and linebackers in coverage as well.
“We’ve got to get to that quarterback to help our defense out tremendously,” Winston said. “But they can’t get in passing situations unless we stop the run, so we have to stop the run too.”
Bradley said he is excited to see the position’s progress and thinks it will help the whole team.
“I think that’s how we are going to win games – up front,” he said. “They get a push up front and (interceptions) come from that.”
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