Grading The Defense: Not So Fast, My Friend

After a quick review of Saturday's game:

Defensive Line:  Let's call it a solid B.  The rushing numbers looked great (2.9 ypc), but something was just off when watching the game a second time.  Josh Gaines was obviously magnificent in every regard, and while Aaron Maybin continues to get into the opponent's backfield, he still struggles quite a bit against the run.  The defensive tackles were surprisingly soft, no doubt due to the lack of depth at the position.  Ollie Ogbu and Jared Odrick made some plays, but they were completely blown out of the play on multiple occasions.  Freshman Jack Crawford is not only attempting to adjust to the college game, he's still trying to learn the game.  He's seen action in both games this season, and hasn't performed particularly well.  It's just a fact of being an undersized true freshman defensive tackle.  Tom McEowen and Eric Latimore were okay in the second half, at best.  It may not have been apparent on the scoreboard, but the defensive line desperately needs Maurice Evans and Abe Koroma back when Illinois comes to town.

Linebackers:  B+.  Navarro Bowman and Tyrell Sales racked up a ton of tackles.  Josh Hull played better and made an easy interception, but Tom Bradley isn't helping his defense by sending Hull on blitzes.  He's not a good enough athlete to disrupt the play in a blitzing role, not to mention how poorly disguised the blitzes are in the first place.  Still, he was better this week than against Coastal Carolina.  Bani Gbadyu allegedly played on Saturday.  Nathan Stupar looked quite good in his limited action.

Secondary:  B+.  Mark Rubin, better.  Not great, but better.  He was caught up in traffic a few times on running plays, but otherwise did a fine job shedding some blocks and making the tackle.  Nice interception, too.  Tony Davis played very well.  Outside of the clusterfrick that was Oregon State's first touchdown, Anthony Scirrotto had a nice game.  Good to see Drew Astorino in the game early and breaking up a pass.  I don't recall Lydell Sargeant doing anything great or awful.

I already know what many of you are thinking.  We held them to 7 meaningful points, and even if you take away the sacks, Oregon State only had 116 yards rushing.  I know.  I know.  But I saw what I saw:  many defensive tackles being abused far too often, and average but effective play from the defense as a whole.  They'll look great against Syracuse and Temple.  After that, we'll probably have Evans and Koroma back in the rotation, which will certainly help against Illinois.  

Too harsh?  Just right?  Your comments are always welcome.

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