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September 21, 2023

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Defensive line fills gaps with senior leaders


Ted Ouellet (93) pressures the quarterback with two defensive teammates during practice Wednesday night.

BG’s defensive line has a hole to fill with the loss of their leader, Chris Jones, who was drafted by the Houston Texans in this year’s NFL Draft in May.

Jones played in 50 consecutive games including 44 straight starts on the defensive line for the Falcons.

Now, seniors Jairus Campbell, Ronnie Goble and Ted Ouellet are looking to seal the gaps on the line.

Senior Ted Ouellet has played a total of 25 games at defensive tackle for the Falcons and earned a spot on the Third-Team All-Mid-American Conference in 2012. Ouellet collected 35 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks during the 2012 campaign that led to the first bowl bid for BG since 2009.

“As far as leadership, we’ve got a lot of upperclassmen and a lot of seniors,” defensive tackle Ted Ouellet said. “So we’ve got a lot of strong leaders that can fill in for [Chris Jones]. As far as production goes, we’ve got a lot of depth. We can’t necessarily solve it with one player, but we’ve definitely got the players to do it.”

Senior defensive end Ronnie Goble was a team captain along with Jones in 2012 and played 24 games alongside him from 2011-2012. He doesn’t doubt the ability of this year’s defensive line following the loss of Jones.

“Obviously losing Chris was a big thing but we had a lot of guys come back,” Goble said. “The attitude that we had when Chris was here is the same attitude that we have now. We just go to work everyday.”

The final senior looking to make his way back onto the starting defensive line for BG come Thursday is defensive tackle Jairus Campbell. After being redshirted his first year, Campbell played in 24-straight contests in 2010 and 2011, but his 2012 season was cut short after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the third game of the season at Toledo.

“Chris was a work horse,” Campbell said. “I believe we all work at the level Chris did. We just got to apply that over to games. A lot of us get banged up. Chris was fortunate enough to not to be hurt and leadership wise, I don’t think the level has dropped at all. Leadership in our room wasn’t just Chris, it was everyone, including the freshmen. I believe that everyone is at the same level that bought into this. Everyone is ready.”

Defensive line coach Larry McDaniel, who is in his third year in the program, took his unit from 16 sacks in his first season [2011] to 38 sacks the following year, which ranked No. 10 in the nation.

“Our line was identified by Chris,” McDaniel said. “So I think these guys have taken upon themselves … they really don’t want to live in that shadow anymore. The bottom line is the only way you replace a talent like that is you’ve got to go out there and perform on the field. They’re practicing just as hard, they’re doing all of the things off the field to get to that level but at the end of the day it really boils down to what they do on the field.”

The defensive line’s first chance to prove to the nation what they’re really all about is in the season and home opener Thursday, Aug. 29 against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

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