As UM football continues to slog towards Chestnut Hill, we here at the 7th Floor will breakdown each position group on the team. Today, we will be looking at the interior defensive line. We have a lot of big bodies slugging it up in the middle, but as of yet it doesn't seem like any one of them wants to step up and lead.
Previous previews: quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive ends
It isn't going to take much for this group of guys to outperform the line of 2011. A few more sacks here and there, some batted passes, maybe even a safety or two for good luck, and the 2012 buffet killers will have outdone themselves. Unfortunately, it looks like Golden has a whole lot of skill and youth, and not enough leadership on the player level to wrangle it all in. That doesn't necessarily mean these guys won't produce, or someone won't step up once the games begin, but I wont hold my breath.
DARIUS SMITH / Senior / 6'2" 360 / New Britain, CT
2011 Stats: 21 tackles in all 12 games, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack
Smith is by far the most experienced guy we have at the defensive tackle position. He played in all twelve games last year, and started in seven of them. While he played well, he only got into the backfield 4 times, which in itself shows you the lack of penetration the line endured in 2011. Smith has increased his weight and strength, while improving his conditioning in the off season. These things will help him stay focused for the entire game, and should help him get pressure on the offensive line, and hopefully get him into the backfield more often.
Darius will most definitely be half of your starting defensive line come week one. The rest of the line is most likely set, although there are still plenty of questions surrounding the other guys.
CURTIS PORTER / Redshirt (Medical) Junior / 6'1" 300 lbs / Charlotte, NC
2011 Stats: Played only two games, 10 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
The previous two years have been rough for Porter. He played one game in 2010 before injury sidelined him for the season. Then, in 2011, he sustained an injury in training camp that held him out of all but the final two games of the season. He still managed to do good work over those two games, finishing with 10 tackles, including 7 in the finale against Boston College.
Porter has been sort of an enigma so far this off season. He has improved in the weight room, but his conditioning is still not where it needs to be. Perhaps he has a bit of a mental block as well after playing 3 games over two seasons. Whatever the reason, he has slipped down the depth chart a bit behind Smith and Olsen Pierre. Whether or not he will remain there is still to be seen. At the very least, he will provide a very capable backup if someone needs a breather or gets injured.
OLSEN PIERRE / Sophomore / 6'3" 290 lbs / Rahway, NJ
2011 Stats: Played in 7 games, finished with 4 tackles
Olsen Pierre is a guy for Canes fans to keep an eye on. Still a sophomore, he saw plenty of game action last year, finishing the season with 4 total tackles, half of which came against Georgia tech. His production should be greatly improved this season, and his gains in the weight room should help. He packed on 45 pounds between his freshman and sophomore years, and that has helped propel him up the depth chart.
He is currently listed as a starter on the depth chart, although this is the spot where things get a bit murky with Pierre, Porter, Grimble and Robinson all trying to battle it out. I personally think that he will hang on to the starting spot at least until after game one, if not beyond. While coaches have been pretty vocal about needing guys to step up in the middle of the line, there certainly is no lack of talent.
JALEN GRIMBLE / Sophomore / 6'2" 290 lbs / Las Vegas, NV
2011 Stats: Played in 7 games
Originally committed to Southern Cal, Grimble switched his recruitment to Miami and Al Golden in February of 2011. He was one of the bright spots of Golden's first class along with Anthony Chickillo. He saw the field in seven games as a freshman, but failed to record any meaningful stats. His production has nowhere to go but up this year, and he has so far been showing a lot of improvement.
He is listed as a backup on the most recent depth chart as an "OR" along with Luther Robinson. Grimble will likely see playing time at some point in the year, and as I said, him recording a single tackle would be an improvement on his stats from last year. There's a lot of hope that Grimble turns a corner and starts living up to his hype this year. While he certainly isn't going to strap on cleats and become the next Warren Sapp, he could end up being a pleasant surprise.
LUTHER ROBINSON / Redshirt Junior / 6'3" 295 lbs / Ft. Pierce, FL
2011 Stats: Missed the season with a patented Lower Extremity Injury
Luther has an uphill climb this year after missing the 2011 campaign with injury. He has 11 games under his belt as a Hurricane, all coming in his 2010 season. He has played well in camp, but also has not stood out like coaches like to see from players. He is currently listed as a backup to Olsen Pierre along with Jalen Grimble, and will have every chance to separate himself from the crowd.
COREY KING / Redshirt Freshman / 6'1" 295 lbs / Boca Raton, FL
Corey was red shirted his first year, and has missed a lot of the spring with injury. He is back playing again, and will definitely provide a lot of depth to the line. He could very well show up out of nowhere to provide a lot of playing time, although chances are better that he will play the role of backup.
JACOBY BRISCOE / Freshman / 6'5" 310 lbs / Lafayette, LA
Briscoe is a pretty highly heralded freshman that Golden was able to steal away from the state of Louisiana. His recruitment picked up late, with Texas A&M and Tennessee attempting to lure him away from the Canes. He ultimately pledged to Golden, and gave the 2012 class a very talented interior lineman. He has size as well as speed, and spent a lot of his high school career in the offensive backfield. Whether he will produce much this year remains to be seen, but he provides a young and talented guy that will drive competition.
DEQUAN IVERY / Freshman / 6'1" 331 lbs / Lake City, FL
Ivery was originally committed to the Louisville Cardinals, but Golden convinced him to switch to the warm confines of Coral Gables. This is a very large man who has a bright career in front of him. He was mistakenly listed on the depth chart as a starter after the first scrimmage, and while this was quickly corrected, it still left people wondering if he was performing well enough to be confused with a starter. His name has definitely popped up here and there after practices, and there's no reason why he won't see the field this year.
EARL MOORE / Freshman / 6'1" 295 lbs / Tampa, FL
Earl was a three star DT coming into the 2012 class. He boasted a pretty extensive list of offers, but ultimately chose the Canes. He has a lot of upside as a freshman, and could end up being a very good player under Golden. There's a slight chance that he sees some time this year, though if he sees extended time either things have gone wrong with the rest of the position, or he has blown up out of nowhere.