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Personally I ..."/>

2009 Defense


Personally I think the starters will be as follows:

Lineman- Greg Middleton, Jarrod Smith, Deonte Mack, Jammie Kirlew

Linebackers- Will Patterson, Matt Mayberry, Tyler Replogle

Secondary, Nick Polk, Austin Thomas, Ray Fisher, Chris Adkins

Let’s start with the lineman:

Greg Middleton- Two years ago he led the NATION in sacks. Yes that was not a mistake, I said nation. Last year he got off to a terrible start. He was suspended for the first game, recorded a sack against Murray State in the second game, then was quiet for the rest of the year, finishing with a total of 4 sacks. It was rumored that he had attitude problems and he did not look at all like he did in 2007.

However, I am confident he will turn things around next season. Coach Lynch said he had his best winter conditioning since he has been at IU. Many players have noted that his attitude is much better than it was last year. I don’t expect him to lead the nation in sacks again but I expect him to have a bounce back year. Other teams will not be able to double team his next year due to the emergence of Jammie Kirlew this season. Hopefully he gets back on track and can improve his draft status once again.

Jammie Kirlew- Last year was definitely a great year for him. He finished the

year with 10.5 sacks and is now on the Ted Hendricks award list. One of the things I like about Kirlew is his leadership. He has emerged as one of the leaders on IU’s defense this spring which is something that we lacked last season. Numerous times at practices I witnessed him coaching up the younger players on the sidelines giving them advice on what to do. Even though he was sitting out the spring with an injury it was good to see him helping out anyway that he could. He was also rated the #19 position player in the big ten and if he plays similar to how he did last year he will have a chance to play at the next level.

Jarrod Smith- He was moved over the defense this past season. He is a high-energy guy like I said before. He seems to be a general upgrade over the caliber of players we have had on our d-line the last few years. I am curious to see how he performs this upcoming season.

Deonte Mack- Assuming he gets healthy and plays well in the fall I have him as the other starting DT. He had a pretty quiet year with 21 tackles and 2 sacks but being just a sophomore he will have more experience.

The good part about the defensive line is that next year we will have a lot more depth. Lynch almost pulled the red shirt off of Nick Sliger last year but I’m glad he didn’t. We have three bigger DT’s than we have normally had in the past with Sliger, Black, and Mentzer. We generally play four defensive ends anyway. We have solid backups in Fred Jones, Terrence Thomas (both played in all 12 games last year), and red shirt freshman Kyle Kozak and Eric Thomas.

Linebackers- This is the position I am most excited about. I feel we have one of the better linebacker corps in the big ten.

Will Patterson- He didn’t play this spring because of a wrist injury but he has a ton of experience and will be a senior next year. He was voted captain last year and had 55 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Matt Mayberry- Personally my favorite of all the linebackers. Coming out of high school he had offers from Maryland, Virginia, Oklahoma State, Georgia

Tech and Georgia to name a few. A pretty impressive list. He showed flashes of great potential last season recording 4 sacks against Central Michigan. He is ranked the #28 position player in the big ten. He is known for his extreme workout regime and has gotten much bigger and stronger each year. He will be a senior and someone to watch out for. He has emerged as one of the better linebackers in the big ten and has the potential to play on Sundays.

Here is a great article from ESPN about Mayberry and Kirlew working out over break.–defensive-tandem.html

Tyler Replogle- this will be his first year most likely as a starter. He played in 11 games last year recording 38 tackles and a sack. Even though he hasn’t been a starter he has played in a ton of games. Coach Lynch said that is one of the highest energy guys on the team.

The linebacker core has some depth to. Darius Johnson would probably be one of the first guys called in but I witnessed him also playing a bit of DE during the spring. He may be playing both positions come the fall. Justin Carrington also played a lot last season. We also have Leon Beckum, Ian Reeves, Chad Sherer who will supply some depth.

Secondary- Our safeties will be extremely experienced but the question marks will fall at the corners next year.

Nick Polk- didn’t practice this spring due to recovering from an ACL injury. He has a knack for the ball and has pretty good closing speed. He only played 8 games last year but managed 52 tackles, 1.5 TFL, and an interception.

Austin Thomas- He is an extremely physical player who led our team in tackles two years ago. He is one of our biggest hitters in the secondary and always gets his nose in where he can. He had a crucial interception last year against Northwestern and if he can stay healthy our safety position will be extremely talented.

For depth we can’t forget about Jerimy Finch. Once rated as the best safety coming out of high school he played his freshman year at Florida before getting injured. He transferred to Indiana last year but his play was very inconsistent. He had a lot of mental errors at times but also provided a huge boost on special teams blocking a few punts. He is a natural athlete who is physical as well. He is a safety who plays best around the line of scrimmage. If he can tackle the mental parts of the game and understand the defense a little bit better he will be extremely dangerous.

Ray Fisher- moved to CB this off-season. He played it in high school and put on 15 lbs to better adapt to the position. He is a physical player and has that CB mentality similar to Tracy Porter that is needed to play the position. He is undersized but possesses a lot of speed and closing ability. Don’t know exactly how he is going to play but I’m confident in his abilities.

Chris Adkins- I have him starting only because he started last year. There was a ton of competition at camp and he emerged as the starter. He often times was beat last year and played off the line of scrimmage a lot. He improved this off-season and in general the corners were not playing very far off the line this spring. He will have a whole year under his belt which should help.

We have depth with mostly young guys. Richard Council was in my opinion the best in coverage out of our young CB’s. He had many opportunities to pick off passes but couldn’t convert. He’s a little bit bigger than Adkins. Donnel Jones is a physical corner with great speed. He is smaller than both Adkins and Council but had a great diving interception against Penn State last year. It will most likely be an open compet
ition between the three again this fall.

Closing notes- Injuries just killed the defense last year. If we can stay healthy we will have a very good defense. There is a lot more upper class men on this years squad. We have a number of players who will most likely have a chance to play in the NFL. Personally I think it could be Middleton, Kirlew, Mayberry. Depending on how they play I could also see Patterson and Polk with other players having the chance to make it via free agency. Again we will need to stop the run but I think our run defense will be improved. Smith and Mack and three Red shirt freshman competing for playing time will help our run defense. They are bigger than players we have had in the past. Our pass rush IMO will be greatly improved. I see Middleton having a bounce back year and Kirlew playing similar to how he did last year. Our LB core is solid with our starting 3 and we have a few quality backups. We have 3 very good safeties who just need to remain healthy. Our corners will be interesting with Fisher being moved to that position and 3 others competing for a starting spot.

My next post I will look at the offense and am thinking about getting players input on what they are planning on doing this summer and how their workouts are going.