As a reader pointed out the other day, we haven’t written much about defensive tackle Ben Anderson. We aim to please, so…..
Anderson (6-1, 274) is the projected starter in Darryl Richard’s spot. He’ll be a redshirt junior this fall.
Here’s what I learned about Anderson:
He benches 460 pounds, most on the team.
He comes from the same high school, South Aiken (Aiken, S.C.) as Michael Dean Perry, the six-time NFL Pro Bowler, and current Florida State linebacker Dekoda Watson.
Anderson and Watson were classmates who, in the offseason, did extra weight-training sessions together. They’d do the regular sessions with the football team before school, then lift with the track & field team’s strength coach in the afternoon.
D-line coach Giff Smith likes to joke that Anderson has short legs. “He gives me a hard time about that. Its just the way I’m built. I’ve got a big torso and short legs,” Anderson said.
But Smith described Anderson as a better athlete than people give him credit for.
“He runs extremely well for a guy his size,” Smith said. “Ben’s played for us and learned from those older guys, and I’ve been real pleased with the way Ben’s gone about his business. He’s a strong kid, understands the game. He’s getting better at rushing the passer and that’s something he’s got to continue to work on, but he’s very sound.
“He’s never going to do a lot of flashy things, but he’s going to maintain his responsibility and when it’s his time to make a play, he’ll make it,” Smith continued. “He’ll also be able to force the ball into some situations where our playmakers can make plays.”
Anderson played in 12 games last year. Like the rest of the D-line backups, he played meaningful snaps. (Unlike 2007, when Anderson mostly did mop-up duty). Anderson’s only two tackles were a tackle for loss against LSU and a sack against Gardner-Webb.
“I’ve been waiting my turn,” Anderson said. “Finally it’s my turn and I’m excited about this season.”
Anderson said the experience he got last year, “in big games and big atmospheres, was the best thing for me.”
Anderson paid close attention to the way Richard did his job.
“He’s a great player and I learned a lot from watching him,” Anderson said. “And he was nice enough to talk to me about plays I had questions on. He’d help me out every chance he got.”
Anderson said the perception that Tech might suffer a big dropoff up front is motivating the D-Line.
“Even though those guys in front of us we’re good players, we as a D-line feel we’re good enough to step in their shoes because we’ve been here, we’ve been around,” he said. “I guess people don’t really think about how long we’ve been here.
“Guys like me and [defensive end] Robert Hall, we’re going on our fourth year and we’ve had a lot of playing time,” Anderson added. “So it’s not like we’re a bunch of new guys.”
Of course, Derrick Morgan will anchor the D-line, and on Tuesday he was named one of 42 candidates for the Lott Trophy. The trophy goes to players who have the biggest impact on their teams, on and off the field. It takes into account academics, performance, community service and other factors.
So with Morgan and Robert Hall at the ends, Anderson and Jason Peters in the middle, and with T.J. Barnes among the key backups, do you think this D-Line can be as good as the 2008 version?