I think we’ll be able to tell what type of defense will have after the first series of the OU game. If there are problems with our NG play, we’ll see it against Samford. The real test will be against OU due to the difference between SC programs at BCS schools and Div 2, there shouldn’t be anyway physically for our DT to get manhandled. If they do, we are in for another long season. Right now, I think McDaniel is going to start at NG or 1-Tech with Dawkins starting at DT or 3-Tech. One thing to consider is prior to last two seasons; we were able to have statistically pretty good defenses due to the play of DT. Odell has put a lot of guys in the pros so the coaching is there but are the players old enough and physically ready to take on grown men. The way I see things there are four possible outcomes.
1. McDaniel gives ground and is consistently blocked one on one. If this happens, first I think we will see both McCray and McCloud get a shot almost immediately. If either player were unable to improve on McDaniel play there is trouble on the horizon; I would expect only a modest improvement from last year’s defense (80-90). We won’t give up as many big plays but the defense will have a tough time getting off the field and will be forced to stunt their ends inside again to defend the inside rush.
2. If McDaniel is able to maintain his ground and force the OU center to scrap him then the defense will be much improved (top 50). The ends will be able to maintain proper lanes and the Smith will have a chance to make plays sideline to sideline.
3. If McDaniel forces teams to double team him and is able to maintain his ground the defense will be a around top 30. Smith would be able to use his speed to move sideline to sideline and we would be able to stop the run consistently with seven players in the box and maintain good down distance.
4. If McDaniel is able to split the double team during the first few series, we are looking at a top ten defense. This asking a lot of true sophomore but it’s not out of the realm of possibility by the time McDaniel reaches his last year. Next year, I would say it’s close to impossible. There is no player more disruptive then an unblockable NG. You cannot run away from him and are severely limited in your passing game.