March 2, 2008

2007 Unit Rankings #7T: DL

Duck Sports Authority continues its Spring Camp preparation with a final evaluation and ranking of the 2007 position units. Coming if for a tie at #7 in the unit rankings is Defensive Line.

Season Unit Analysis: Defensive Line

Summary Opinion: B- Following a horrific start in which it yielded 6.4 ypc and didn't tackle anybody against Houston the defensive line immediately got its act together the next week for their visit to Ann Arbor. With the gap-control style front Oregon usually runs, the defensive tackles won't get as many opportunities as other positions, but still more production in the middle should have been expected. On the outsides the Ducks were strong, with All-League junior Nick Reed and sophomore Will Tukuafu starting and freshman Kenny Rowe providing excitement in relief.

Key Players:

Nick Reed - JR - 60 tackles, 22.5 tfl, 12 sacks (101 yards), 3 qbh, FR, 13 games - Reed has nothing to prove to Duck fans.
Will Tukuafu - SO - 36 tackles, 8.5 tfl, 4.5 sacks (22 yards), 5 qbh, 5 FR, 2 FF, 13 games - Tukuafu should prosper in 2008 with Reed on the other side.
Jeremy Gibbs - SR - 27 tackles, 5.5 tfl, 4.5 sacks (26 yards) 8 qbh, 13 games - Gibbs did a good job of shedding blockers for the Ducks.
David Faaeteete - SR - 19 tackles, 8 tfl, 2 sacks (11 yards), 2 qbh, 2 FF, 13 games - Faaeteete had potential to be a lot more productive.
Cole Linehan - JR - 18 tackles, 2 tfl, 1 sack (4 yards), 2 qbh, 13 games - Linehan will have every opportunity in 2008.
Tonio Celotto - FR - 16 tackles, 4 tfl, qbh, 11 games - Celotto was stout in the middle for a freshman.
Sonny Harris - JR - 15 tackles, 3 tfl, 4 qbh, 11 games - Needs to elevate his game above 2007 levels.
Kenny Rowe - FR - 8 tackles, 6 tfl, 5 sacks (33 yards), 1 FF, 13 games - Huge upside for this tremendous football player.
Brandon Bair - RFR - 6 tackles, tfl, 3 qbh, 1 FR, 13 games - Could have used more strength in 2007.
Michael Speed - JR - 4 tackles, 1.5 tfl, 10 games - Did not pass the first game test in the middle for the Ducks last season.

Key Statistics:

Yards per carry against: 3.6
Unit sacks/game: 2.2
Unit tackles for loss/game: 4.7
Unit tackles/game: 15.7
% unit tackles: 23

Season Improvement Rating: Steady Improvement (+0.08) The defensive line had the second best improvement rating of any unit next to linebacker (+0.09). After the opener against Houston, the rest of the season was one of slow improvement and good consistency, with the sole hiccup following the opener being a poor showing against Oregon State. Michael Gray gets credit for his units' steady performance and his willingness to give playing time to promising youth.

Best 2007 Game: Washington State The defensive line put on an memorable performance in this 53-7 debacle as the Ducks improved to 6-0 in front of a sold out Autzen crowd. Nick Reed was unstoppable and posted unbelievable numbers for one game: 11 tackles, 5 tfl, 3.5 sacks, 0.5 safeties. David Faaeteete and Sonny Harris each added two tackles, while Will Tukuafu and Kenny Rowe each logged a sack.

Unit MVP: Nick Reed Reed is the clear choice for this unit's honor. While not as tall as the prototypical defensive end, Reed makes up for it at the college level with smarts (aside from some Sun Bowl flag-juggling) and quickness, plus surprising football strength. The teams that tried to single Reed got eaten up in 2007, so his presence in games will be vital for the Ducks' defensive success in 2008.

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