Defense is underrated, should make an impact

Training camp, two-a-days, light hitting, late nights with a playbook and dreams of different colored jersey coming through the line will all be distant memories tomorrow night when BG kicks off its season against Minnesota.

The Falcon defense isn’t being talked about nearly as much as it should and the players look forward to showing people why. As soon as Amir Pinnix gets the ball tomorrow, the unit will be ready.

“That’s when you just let it all go,” said BG linebacker Loren Hargrove. “Nothing to hold back.”

You can’t really blame a guy like Hargrove for licking his chops at the first chance to pop a guy not wearing an orange practice jersey.

After struggling to find his place on defense, Hargrove was moved to linebacker where he fought injuries all last season. Now he’s a key player on one of the fastest BG defenses in a long time.

The Falcons may not be all that big in size. Hargrove is listed at 211 pounds and Erique Dozier, also a former safety, is listed at 221. John Haneline is the biggest player on the starting unit at 6 feet 2 inches and 231 pounds.

The unit’s speed should makes up for its lack of size, though.

“Teams are going to try and run the ball but we’ve got the speed there to stop it,” Hargrove said. “They may not think we’re as big as some of the defenses but our speed is definitely there and the skill and technique is there, too.”

The Gophers have installed a new offensive system this offseason. They call it a “spread coast offense.” In this system the quarterback makes quick throws to many different weapons in different situations.

To Minnesota’s advantage, it’s pretty deep at running back and tight end.

To its disadvantage, a new quarterback will be starting. Redshirt freshman Adam Weber has won the job in the new system which will rely on him to “make decisions at the line of scrimmage.”

While the system calls for a lot of passing, I don’t really buy the fact that they’ll try to spread the defense all game. Neither does BG coach Gregg Brandon.

“I think that spread stuff is an illusion,” Brandon said. “I think they’re going to line up two tight ends and pound us. That’s what they’re built for up there.”

Maybe not right off the jump, but if Minnesota can’t move the ball in their new system I can’t see it risking a loss to BG just to get its offense in gear. Besides, if you’ve got the size advantage, why wouldn’t you pound your opponent?

“It gets tough after a while to handle that kind of size and strength,” Brandon said.

The Falcons may be more prepared for this running attack than the previous two seasons, though. According to Brandon there are 10 defensive linemen that can rotate into the mix, keeping the line fresh.

The biggest question mark on the defense for BG last season was its secondary. Six of the eight players on the two-deep roster were freshmen. The other two, sophomores. A leader has emerged though in Antonio Smith and the unit has promised an improvement after having its toughest offseason ever.

“I made sure we did go out and work harder than we ever have and I’m anxious to go out and let it show,” Smith said.

Last season was not just a bump in the road, it was a pothole. The players on both sides of the ball want pretty badly to recover from it.

“We want to get that bad taste out of our mouth,” said center Kory Lichtensteiger. “We’re very eager to go out and prove that we’re not a 4-8 team.”

This Saturday may not be a great gauge for what the Falcons will do this season. Then again, have the last three openers foreshadowed things to come?

Whatever the case, the Falcons are coming off an offseason which every player including Lichtensteiger called the longest yet and they’re geared up.

“If you talk to anybody, we’re ready to play. It’s as simple as that.”