Horns & Rings 2017 - Defense
With only days remaining before the march to Frisco in on in earnest, it's about time to preview the once and future champions of the Football Championship Subdivision. Being that Football is king in Fargo, the names of the key figures will not surprise anyone, but maybe there is a surprise or two ahead - if you take the time to read on!
You can see my preview for the Bison offense here. Now it's time to dive into their counterparts.
As multi-dimensional as the Bison offense may be, the defense will be, almost unquestionably. Whichever level of the defense you look at, there are potential All - Americans and even better, potential NFL players. Whether the 2017 NDSU Football team will match the record of 2013's team with a zero in the loss column or with an average margin of victory of over 27 points per game. That is dominance. And that team had 10 future players to at least sniff NFL rosters, and that's if I didn't miss anyone.
We won't know for several years how many future pros are about to convene in North Fargo but if a perfect season is to be accomplished the defense will be key. If the Football team is to get #6 this year, the defense will be key. If the defense is going to live up to it's potential on paper, their health will have to hold much better then it did by the James Madison game. So where to begin actually calling out certain players? Whether with the defensive line, with the linebacker corp or with the defensive backfield, there is no wrong answer so I'll go back to front.
Tre Dempsey & Robbie Grimsley need no introductions. Their running mates on the outside are not quite as tremendous but whether it be Jalen Allison, Jaylaan Wimbush or someone else who shows himself to be deserving, the Cornerback position is still strong.
No disrespect to the other 8 defensive starters but the best it has to offer may be under the deviation of Linebacker. Nick DeLuca being lost for most of 2016 hurt but pain may be followed by gain this season. It gave Matt Plank an extra seasons worth of playing time and thus made the position that much stronger. And that's before consideration of anyone else. Levi Jordheim & Dan Marlette will most likely slot in as the top reserves behind the defensive line. And that leaves one of the highest recruits to yet suit up for NDSU as the prohibitive favorite to be the third backer, Jabril Cox. Putting lofty expectations on a freshman can be a recipe for failure but I, like many of you, am very excited to see what the big man can do!
Which brings us to the defensive line. Sorry to say that I don't see any Kyle Emmanuel type performances from a single defensive end this year but NDSU doesn't truly rebuild at any position these days so Greg Menard and associates will surely be able to wreak some measure of havoc off the edges. But there is also the interior rush. having Nate Tanguay back for a full slate of games will help immensely. How the rotation next to and including Tanguay do will go a long way in ensuring that the two levels of defense behind them are given the time to, and at times freed of the responsibility of having to, cover the whole field.
So not quite as much about the defense as the offense, because there is that much more already known about how that half lives and operates. It's not all known though, and I'm sure there are uncertainties that I didn't mention here, but if so please, say something!
Either way, come September 9 we may have a good impression of how this 11 will do in 2017 but there's also a real possibility that they won't be hardily challenged before they go to Brookings in early November. That wouldn't leave much of a window for correction so the earlier a challenge, a scare or an unfortunate loss happens, the better - for improvement.
So those are my thoughts about the defense. If you haven't yet done so, my takes on the offense can be seen right here.