Friday, January 18, 2008

2008 --------- UMass Linebackers

Back on Tuesday we took a look at the status of the defensive backfield for 2008. Today, we continue that series with a look at who's returning at linebacker for UMass and try to guess what the coaching staff is thinking for this coming campaign. Remember I have no special inside information.

Freshman are green.
Sophomores are orange
Juniors are blue
Senior are red

I'm working out of the UMass depth chart for the Hofstra game. Teams are only allowed to dress 60 players for the playoffs, so the depth chart for the playoffs may have been different. Note that the class of the player is for fall of 2008 not their current status.

According to the last regular season depth chart:

SLB Open
-----Andy Resende-Gomes Redshirt Senior

MLB Open

WLB George Byrd Senior
------Josh Jennings Redshirt Junior

Other Linebackers currently on the roster are Emil Iqwenaqu, Anthony Rouzier, Chad Arango, Jason Grochowalski and Johnny Evens.

Discussion: It will be interesting to see how Brown deploys Josh Jennings. He's best in open space and I would speculate that his best position would be WLB---a position already occupied by George Byrd. Both Byrd and Jennings are fast, but not large. Putting them in the middle or over the TE probably would not use their talents to the best effect.

Rouzier is a good run stopper and probably is the leading candidate for MLB.

Darrlyn Fenner is listed as a LB on the roster, but he was moved to DE to back up David Burris. With Burris graduated, I would think Fenner would be in line to move up.

This is not a deep position for UMass. There were only two freshman LB last year (Evans and Iqwenaqu). Two other LB recruits, the highly touted Ryan Moreshead and JUCO Justin Halas, quit the team in the first week of practice.

I would not be surprised to see one or more BCS transfers brought in and I would think this would be a priority position for recruiting.


Anonymous said...

Emil also never practiced at LB last year, so if they decided to use him there he would have to completely learn the position.

UMass74 said...

Right. We are also fairly thin at TB. I meant to mention that they might need him there.

Anonymous said...

Emil at 6-1 215 is a good weight for a RB. If he put on 10-15 lbs (to play LB)he might lose some of his speed. I would prefer that he lose 5-10 lbs so that he could run a bit faster or quicker. He would still be a big RB.

I expect him to gain a few lbs each year so wouldn't want to see him playing RB at 240 lbs in his senior year.

Anonymous said...

If the defensive line can keep the offensive line from the linebackers then the lighter or more speedie players are probably the best choice. If Umass does not bring in or develop a couple of good defensive tackles then they better put some heavier run stoppers in these positions. The Minutemen need a big quick Nose Guard to help the linebackers out and to pressure the QB.

Anonymous said...

The LB corps seems a bit undersized, but they performed very well last year. Who might fill in for Hatchell is the question. Emil should be at TB. We need a larger (and fast) back to compliment Tony, otherwise, we will be vulnerable. Of course, if there are possible transfers at the position, then this may not be so much a concern, but still, having one experienced back concerns me. Any thoughts?