This is the fifth of a longer POV series looking at the individual positions which need to be re-filled in 2017 and whether we will meet the PRODUCTION we had in those positions. We will not factor in true freshman at this point.
We have been blessed as a team to have had Ejuan Price at the defensive end position on our defense these last six years… that’s not a typo as two of those years were injury redshirts seasons. His constant and stalwart play masked some other problems we had on defense last season; mainly pressure on the QB from his fellow defenders.
Wait! you may say we had a ton of sacks and we sure did with 43 which was good for 6th nationally. But what is hidden there is that translates to only 8% of the times 592 times the opposing QBs dropped back to pass. As we know those same QBs ripped us apart on the other 92% of those pass plays.
So – as we know and are reminded all the time, stats can be deceiving. Here we see 43 sacks and think that is fantastic and it pretty much is, but is was the lack of constant pressure from the other DE position and the LBs that fell by the wayside… and helped to account for those 331 yards passing per game against us.
But that is the heart and soul of a Narduzzi defense. Stop the run and put strong pressure on the quarterback.
That worked out pretty well in 2015; 2016 was a completely different story however as the other team’s passer had more than enough time to throw those intermediate and deep route completions for a substantial 12.4 ypc rate and 28 TDs. You may think 12.4 ypc given up isn’t so bad but let’s remember that it happened 350 times to our defense.
That is a recap of what happened. Here are who helped it to come about from the DE position. First, as mentioned, we had Price who was just plain fantastic from that spot. 13 sacks for losses of 92 yards and 23 tackles for loss (TFL) for a total 123 yards… ‘Nuff said. He was great for us.