Countdown to Spring Practices – Defensive Line

Program Note … CU spring practices open on March 31st. Over the next few weeks, there will be a unit-by-unit preview posted every other day leading up to the start of spring ball.

Previously posted

— Defensive Line (10) … Returning starter (bold); walk-on (italics):

  • Seniors … Terrance Lang; Janaz Jordan; Jeremiah Doss; Justin Jackson
  • Juniors … Jalen Sami; Na’im Rodman
  • Sophomores … None
  • Red-shirt freshmen … Allan Baugh; Tyas Martin; Ryan Williams
  • 2022 Signees … Aaron Austin

The Stats … 

For a team which is generally relying on young players to carry the load, the Colorado defensive line is surprisingly filled with upperclassmen. Mustafa Johnson is off for a second chance at the NFL, but otherwise six of the ten scholarship defensive linemen are juniors and seniors.

Does that bode well for the Buffs in 2022? Well, if experience were the only criteria, then CU is in good shape. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been the production from the line which is necessary for the defense as a whole to be successful.

The 2021 stats from the remaining roster:

  • Jalen Sami … 11 games … 432 plays … 30 tackles (23 unassisted) … 1.5 sacks … three third down stops …
  • Terrance Lang … 12 games … 589 plays … 20 tackles (11 unassisted) … eight third down stops … six quarterback pressures …
  • Na’im Rodman … 12 games … 429 plays … 16 tackles (13 unassisted) … 1.5 sacks … two third down stops … two third down pressures …
  • Justin Jackson … 10 games … 135 plays … five tackles (3 unassisted) … one quarterback pressure …
  • Janaz Jordan … 10 games … 234 plays … four tackles (4 unassisted) … three quarterback pressures …

Nationally … 

  • Passing defense … 242.9 yds/game … 83rd nationally
  • Total defense … 436.0 yds/game … 101st nationally
  • Scoring defense … 28.5 pts/game … 77th nationally
  • Third down conversions, defense … .451 … 113th nationally
  • Sacks/game … 1.17 … 126th nationally
  • Tackles for loss/game … 4.8 … 96th nationally

Comments …    Two starters return, along with four contributors from the 2021 season (Jeremiah Doss was injured, missing the 2021 season). The Buffs were to receive an infusion of energy from new defensive line coach Vic So’oto, who came to CU from USC. The So’oto era, however, lasted all of two months, with So’oto defecting to take a position on the coaching staff at Cal.

Forced to look for a new defensive line coach in March, CU head coach Karl Dorrell landed on Gerald Chatman, who was working for Tulane at the time.

“I coach with passion and I want my guys to play with passion,” Chatman said upon his hire. “Yeah, I’ve got some energy, but it’s passion. … It’s more a sense of urgency to get things done. It’s more a sense of urgency with how we practice how we approach everything. And it’s more of a sense of urgency to execute our technique, and execute the details and really help guys develop and learn the game through teaching them technique and fundamentals.”

Chatman will get on the field with his players for the first time when CU opens spring practices, but so far he has been impressed with the Buffs’ defensive linemen.

“What I like about them is that they all have high ceilings,” he said. “They all have a lot of potential and that’s why I coach is to maximize their potential. I like the opportunity. … So far, they’ve been engaged, they’ve been open and I can tell that there’s a hunger because of the adversity that they’ve been through with changes.”

Burning questions for spring … 

  • As new defensive line coach Gerald Chatman put it, the CU roster has “high ceilings”, but can they be achieved? If you look at the stats from above, the Colorado defensive line’s production was sub-optimal, and that was with Mustafa Johnson in the lineup. The Buff defensive line has four seniors … if not now, when?
  • There are three red-shirt freshmen on the roster – Allan Baugh; Tyas Martin; Ryan Williams. Will any of the three step up and impress? Defensive coaches like to rotate defensive linemen to keep them fresh, so depth along the line is imperative. Which of the newbies will make a name for themselves this spring?
  • Are the Buffs done in adding to the roster? Almost certainly not. Never say never, but it would be a huge surprise if Colorado is not in the market this spring for additional help along the defensive line. With new coach Gerald Chatman in the fold, and a spring of practices behind them, the coaching staff should be able to sell immediate playing time to any quality defensive linemen who could still be looking for a spot to land this summer.


3 Replies to “Countdown to Spring Practices – Defensive Line”

  1. I think switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 will help a little. It will also take some of the weight off the middle linebackers. After seeing the o line after this year with Turley I am interested to see what the d line looks like.

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