Monday, August 25, 2008
Who Will Lead the Dawgs in Sacks?
This is a puzzle, IMHO. The Dawgs defense returns 9 starters, but one of the two that must be replaced is sack leader Marcus Howard who had10.5 in 2007. Here is a list of the 42 sacks compiled by our defense last year. Among the returning players are:
Geno Atkins - 7.5
Jeremy Lomax - 4.5
Dannell Ellerbe - 4.5
Rennie Curran - 3.5
Roderick Battle - 2.5
Kade Weston - 2
Jarius Wynn - 1
The sack leader this season will be from the front four, most likely an end. So who are the candidates? Jeremy Lomax, Roderick Battle, Jarius Wynn, Justin Houston, Geno Atkins, Corvey Irvin, Demarcus Dobbs, Neland Ball. Certainly we will have some sacks from other players, but the leader will come from this list.
Normally you would not expect the sack leader to be a tackle, but Geno Atkins penchant for penetrating the backfield makes him a viable candidate. Indeed, 14.5 of his 41 tackles last year were behind the line of scrimmage. That is better than one-third. I hear that Corvey Irvin is the quickest and most athletic of the tackles, so I have him on the list. I think we can rule out Jeff Owens and Kade Weston.
From the edge, we have Lomax and Battle returning with significant experience. Battle started every game last year and registered only 2.5 sacks among his 24 tackles. However, Lomax started no games but got to the quarterback for 4.5 of his 16 tackles. It appears that Lomax is fairly adept at getting to the quarterback and should post better numbers with increased playing time. Jarius Wynn had one sack in 9 tackles while Demarcus Dobbs had only one tackle all season. IN the spring game, Justin Houston showed impressive speed off the edge and will lead this team in sacks at some point, but will it be this year?
I think the top three guys will be Lomax, Atkins and Houston. I don't see any of these guys achieving double digits but I hope I am wrong about that. So how many sacks to expect? Here is a look at the past 6 sack leaders, all of whom were tremendous talents who moved on to the NFL:
2007 Marcus Howard - 11.5 (Team - 42)
2006 Charles Johnson - 9.5 (Team - 33)
2005 Quentin Moses - 11.5 (Team - 34)
2004 David Pollack - 12.5 (Team - 37)
2003 David Pollack - 7.5 (Team - 30)
2002 David Pollack - 14 (Team - 45)
It will be fantastic if we have a player burst on the scene like Pollack did in 2002, before every Defensive Coordinator learned to double-team him and to grab his jersey when that failed. I think we are more likely to see a leader in the 7-9 range with the next guy close behind. With that said, I will predict the following:
Lomax will lead the team with 8.5 sacks and Atkins will be second with 7 sacks. Houston will contribute 6 as a back up.
So, what are your thoughts? Care to take a stab at this?