WANTED: DEFENSIVE PLAY-MAKERS
One of the things that strikes me about this team 3 games into the season is that we have not had a defensive player distinguish himself as THE play-maker. I am wondering if this team has a player that will step up and make the big interception, cause the big fumble, make a huge sack or deliver the bone-jarring tackle. Last year it was Tony Taylor picking off passes and coming up with some fumbles caused and/or recovered. In 2005, it was Greg Blue delivering the knock-out hits like Thomas Davis
did for several years before him.
Of course for several years, we had the one man wrecking ball, David Pollack. Before him, Tim Wansley, Jermaine Phillips, Sean Jones and Boss Bailey made some huge plays.
Going back even further, Terry Hoage and Scott Woerner made game-changing defensive plays. Jake Scott anyone?
At the conclusion of last season, it was clear that Paul Oliver was going to be THE MAN for our defense this year. Then, he became an academic casualty leaving an opening for someone else to step up and be the play-maker.
Kelin Johnson had two big plays in the OSU game - the pass break up on the sideline and the interception. The interception was primarily caused by the pass rush, but credit KJ for being in position and then securing the ball before returning it 30-40 yards. But, then he was sidelined early in the South Carolina game with bruised ribs and missed all of the Western Carolina game. He is supposed to be back for the Alabama game Saturday and maybe he will be the guy to wear this mantle. As our strong safety, he is in a good position to be the game-changer. But, who else is a candidate to step up starting this week in Tuscaloosa?
After returning an INT 100 yards in his first spring game, you would have thought Asher Allen would have several interceptions in his career by now. But, so far, he has none. If we look at the linebacking crew, it is hard to identify a potential play-maker because they are shuffling around so much and none have yet shown that he has the nose to be in the middle of everything like a Terry Hoage or David Pollack. Our linebacker-sized defensive end, Marcus Howard, has the speed to pick up a fumble or pick off a pass and take it to the house. He certainly shows plenty of hustle trying to get to the ball carrier - particularly when the ball carrier is behind the line of scrimmage. Maybe Marcus will create some magic soon like Pollack stealing the ball from Corey Jenkins in the end zone or Tony Taylor pulling the loose ball out of the pile against GT last year. Or, how about this gem turned in by Odell Thurman?
Who do you think could be the next "Play-maker" for our defense?