Friday, December 12, 2008

What's the line?

The other day Rich from Garnet and Great asked me the following question:

UW apparently has a huge D-line. Will it prevail against FSU's kiddie korps OL with three freshmen and two sophs? Keep in mind our OL Coach, Rick Trickett, likes 'em mean and lean -- akin to the Denver Broncos philosophy. Only one of his starters is over 300 lbs. -- and that's barely, at a svelte 301.

Here's how I answered:

It's funny, I've never thought of our defensive line as huge - our offensive line's girth is typically what gets the attention. Without knowing too much about FSU's offensive line and how it operates, here's a bit about our D-Line.

Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy goes about 6-6, 250. He's been an above-average contributor since he was a true freshman, but never took the leap to greatness. No matter, he can get to the passer, solid against the run, and is responsible on reverses and other gadget plays.

The other end, O'Brien Schofield, goes about 6-3, 230. He came here as an unheralded linebacker but has made himself into a nice player. Not dominant but often around the ball and opportunistic.

Defensive tackle Jason Chapman goes about 6-4, 285. End is his preferred position, but he's a pretty good tackle. He's quick off the ball, often to the point of either going offside or apearing to be offside. He hurt his knee last year and to me he hasn't been the same player as he was before.

The other tackle is Mike Newkirk, who's listed as 6-3, 264, but I don't think he's that big. A former champion wrestler, he's a good technique guy, but probably undersized at tackle. He made two really big plays in our comeback win over Minnesota, but other than that nothing sticks out to me.

Not much depth, which is going to kill us next year when three of those guys graduate. Dan Moore was brought here to give depth at tackle but he's playing end. Patrick Butrym and Jeff Stehle take some snaps at tackle but haven't made much of an impact.It's been noted by commenters on my blog that our defense, out of necessity, has adapted to be more effective against the Spread than traditional offenses. We got truly gashed twice this year, against Iowa and Penn State, which just killed us. Especially Iowa, Shonn Greene was running 10 yards downfield before benig touched.

If Florida State is anything like the smallish offensive line Minnesota used to field under Glen Mason, they can do some things, the Gophers always had success running the ball. Guess it depends on how good the smallish guys are!

Anything to add?


Duff Beach said...

I think of our line as undersized. Newkirk has the numbers this year, leading the team in tackles for loss, second in sacks, and fourth in overall tackles. Shaughnessy has the most talent, and is strongest as a pass rusher. Between Chapman and Shaughnessy, particularly, they probably underperformed expectations this season.

Anonymous said...

I think Rich meant the Wisconsin OLine. The Wisky DLine is pretty poor and definitely one of the smallest in major college football.

Scott Tappa said...

I thought so too, and thought he was talking about our O-Line. Checked with him, he really was comparing our D-Line to their O-Line. He gave me a good account of their O-Line that I'll post tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

The depth thing scares me. Look at some of the games FSU has played, they are pretty high-tempo. I mean cuz with the new clock rules are good for yteams with no depth but they play fast and make you tired.

Edward said...

I always expected Shaughnessy to have a Tom Burke-like breakout year, and looking back it kinda bothers me. You watch him play and it seems like he has all the ability in the world, yet he just does not make plays. Last year he looked like he might be ready to take the next step and this year he is statistically no better than when he was a Frosh.
With raving about him since his Freshman year, can you believe he has never led Wisconsin in sacks a single year? Talk about a player with a wonderful future behind him.

Phil Mitten said...

I'm with Edward.

Shaughnessy's center of gravity is too high -- 6'6" and only 250?! If he can't run past his blocker his speed, anyone getting leverage can keep him out of the kitchen.