2017’s DTs; Upgrade, Downgrade or Draw

This is the sixth 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 in ’16. We will not factor in true freshman at this point.

First off we all better take a minute to read digest the following chart – the key info is in red:

Year GP/Starts
10 Keyshon Camp 6-4/285 DL RS FR 0/0
34 Amir Watts 6-3/285 DL SO 7/1
66 Mike Herndon 6-4/315 DL RS JR 6/0
90 Rashad Wheeler 6-3/290 DL RS FR 0/0
93 Shane Roy 6-4/280 DL RS JR 10/0
95 Zack Gilbert 6-1/240 DL RS FR 0/0

OK – got that? We have a single interior lineman returning who started a game as a Pitt Panther and him with only one start at that. 

Gentleman, start your wishful thinking engines… and keep your fingers crossed while doing so.

But this scenario that is exactly what hard, tough practices are for… and spring camps and fall camps and scrimmages also… to get these younger kids ready to ascend into the two-deep ranks and start playing the type of football they were recruited to do.

And we do have younger kids on the current roster – at least the ones I feel will get20160824pppittdefense1spt the  most playing time are still mostly virginal, save SO Amir Watts who got the whole way around the bases once.

Also, and let’s not kid anyone here, we were depending very heavily on dismissed rsSR Jeremiah Taleni to return in that Nose Tackle position and, as a senior, guide these younger kids in practices and then games.  He had only three starts last season but he played in a total of 21 games over the three years after his redshirt season and was effective in those times he played:

Played in seven games, starting three…starting assignments came in the final three regular-season contests…totaled 24 tackles, 5.5 TFLs and three sacks…had a career-high eight stops at Miami…in a start at Clemson, had four tackles and a personal best 1.5 sacks…had five tackles and a sack against Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl.

He had the 2nd most tackles for loss (5.5) and the 2nd most sacks (3.0) of the interior linemen behind the leader Shakir Soto (10 TFLs & 4.5 sacks).  If we want to play with stats and we tend to do – extrapolate his tackles and TFLs over ’16’s last four games, when he played the most, and he would have had 45 tackles and 16.0 TFLs over the full season.

Just for fun that would have put him up with Soto at 46 tackles and 10.0 TFLs and Price with 45 tackles and 23.0 TFLs. Not too shabby for a guy who had very limited playing time. That is what I expected him to do this season and we will be the worse for him not being in the lineup.  

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