Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Analyzing Depth at the Linebacker Position
Conclusion: When you initially look at the position depth it is alarming to see Mike Rallis, Keanon Cooper and Spencer Reeves all as graduating seniors this year. There is no question they have all been solid multi year starters on the Gophers defense. However, as you examine the younger guys left on the roster I believe there is a lot to be excited about. There is no question that in the years ahead the Gophers will be putting more speed on the field at the linebacker position than we have typically been used to. Players like James, Lamonte, Dwayne and Jephete all are extremely athletic guys, but with the exception of Jephete also undersized. The key to the success of the Gophers linebackers moving forward is whether the advantages of increased speed will outweigh the disadvantage of being undersized. Outside of conference play, I think it will prove to be beneficial but I have some concern that teams like Wisconsin, Michigan State, Nebraska and Michigan may take advantage of that weakness. This weakness gets nullified if we can get good push from our defensive line, which will help keep blockers off our linebacks and allow them to flow to the ball. The good news is that with the exception of James Manuel all these guys are still underclassmen and have another year to develop behind the seniors Mike Rallis and Keanon Cooper. Overall, I would say that linebacker remains the strength of the Gophers defense and not a crucial immediate recruiting target.