A look at Georgia Tech’s defensive line

Continuing our positional analysis of Georgia Tech’s football team:

THE DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Returning starters: Ben Anderson, T.J. Barnes, Izaan Cross, Robert Hall, Jason Peters, Logan Walls.
  • Others to watch: Emmanuel Dieke, Euclid Cummings, J.C. Lanier.
  • Key losses: Derrick Morgan, who is now with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
  • Key fact: Morgan had 12.5 sacks last season.
  • Key fact II: The rest of the defensive line produced seven sacks last season.
  • Key question: What effect will the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 have on the defensive line’s production?
  • Key question 2: Who will replace Morgan’s production? Dieke and Cross are the young guns at one defensive end spot. It would be a lot to ask them to match Morgan’s body of work.
  • Key question 3: Who will win the crucial nose guard job? Barnes is figuring out how to turn his 330-plus pounds into leverage. Anderson has experience but is recovering from his knee injury. Lanier has potential but is still working his way back into football condition after sustaining a shoulder injury last year. Walls is slightly undersized, but his quickness may win the day.
  • Outlook: A fairly big question mark, arguably the biggest on the team. However, Peters looked very good in the spring at one defensive end spot. The more Walls plays, the better he looks. Barnes and Lanier have immense potential.
  • Your turn: What say you about the defensive line?

For a look at the offensive line, go here

For a look at the running backs, go here

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141 comments Add your comment

Destin Dawg

June 22nd, 2010
5:34 am

Destin Dawg

June 22nd, 2010
5:38 am

I wish Tech good luck in all games except one… I also like FSU….

Hedgepruner

June 22nd, 2010
5:58 am

We have to have improvement from last year, we have to match our offense if we are going to have a chance to win anything of significance…if we put a decent defense out there it would give us chance to do something GREAT !!!!!

Destin Dawg

June 22nd, 2010
7:09 am

we like our new defensive coaches at UGA… Grantham, Belin, and Lagatos….Go Dawgs !!! let’s see what Al Groh can do ???? Go Jackets… win ‘em all except one !!!

POAD

June 22nd, 2010
7:19 am

Cross will be impressive and JC is really working hard. TJ is good at taking on 2 guys at the line and will help free up an LB to make some big plays in the middle.

DYNAMICBIGBOY

June 22nd, 2010
8:13 am

Good luck, you will need it. Teams will run on this team like water running thru a cup with no bottom. TJ and Lanier are big, fat, and slow, and even though POAD thinks Cross wlll be really impressive, it will take more than that. Secondly, without Morgan there will be no pass rush. The bumblebees hardest games are on the road, expect to see at least 4 losses or more.

Tech76

June 22nd, 2010
8:15 am

@POAD, TJ maybe good at taking on 2 guys at the line, but when he did that last year he ended up in the LB’s lap. He needs to learn to push forward at the line a yard or two and react from there. He has the potential to be very special if he learns to play low to the ground. I can see him being a Ted Washington, Casey Hampton, and Vince Wilfork type of player in the 3-4.

tomkat1

June 22nd, 2010
8:16 am

I hope Tech and UGA are both undefeated when they play each other.

Willie Coyote

June 22nd, 2010
8:17 am

The D-Line is the key to GT realistically having a chance to repeat as ACC champs and for a BCS bowl appearance/win.

The O-Line is a close second.

POAD

June 22nd, 2010
8:20 am

bigboy what 4 losses do U see? How big a boy are U? Are U so Big that you can’t see IT under your belly when it is time to releave yourself? I bet you are so big your fat arms can’t wrap around all the gut to grab that little thing.

POAD

June 22nd, 2010
8:22 am

76 from what TJ has said on Facebook he is working on his squat power to get that push and keep his butt under him.

GT Dog

June 22nd, 2010
8:23 am

I want to see what Dieke can do. Great kid…

Flagboy....

June 22nd, 2010
8:28 am

POAD… How big of a boy are you?? IYKWIM ;-) …. Want to meet me for a drink? What’s your fav Mid-town spot? I can tell you & I are kindred spirits (wink-wink)… Toodles, FLAGBOY..GT’11…

Flagboy....

June 22nd, 2010
8:32 am

POAD

POAD…
June 22nd, 2010
8:22 am

“76 from what TJ has said on Facebook he is working on his squat power to get that push and keep his butt under him.”

Dang POAD… I love the way you talk…. I’m flustered…. Toodles, FLAGBOY…GT class’11…

AdMan

June 22nd, 2010
8:35 am

It won’t matter who starts for Tech’s defense. Their new defensive coordinator Al Groh is an idiot. His defenses consistantly ranked near the bottom of the ACC when he coached there..and he had much better athletes than Tech has….Its going to be a long year on the flats this season. I see at least five losses including a big loss to Georgia.

Paddy

June 22nd, 2010
8:42 am

AdMan….maybe you should go down to a Tech practice and tell Al Groh to his face that he is an idiot. See how that works out for you! What a maroon!

Jacket Backer

June 22nd, 2010
8:43 am

this group will have to step up…..can’t wait until the fall!

Go Jackets!!

SugarHillDawg

June 22nd, 2010
8:46 am

Aren’t they gonna see if any of the “male” members of the TV show “Glee” have any eligibility? It really would be an upgrade from what they have now.

Americus Jacket

June 22nd, 2010
8:47 am

OK, call me a dummy, but wouldn’t the outside linebackers in a 3-4 be the ones who would most be considered when making up the 12.5 sacks Morgan made last year? Peters, who was recruited as a DE but played mostly tackle last year seems to be a perfect fit for the 3-4. And although TJ didn’t get a lot of push last year, his size did clog up the middle. He’s a year older, has Lanier pushing him, and I’m sort of cautiously optimistic that one of these two will be a good player in the 3-4. (Or both. I’m sure they substitute there quite often.) Morgan got drafted by a team with a 4-3 defense. If he had stayed this year, I doubt he could have replaced his 12.5 sacks he had last year under this system. Even though he was my favorite player on the team since he played back-up as a Freshman, I think the new defensive scheme will replace him rather than any other player or players.

I think the same is true at safety, sort of… Remember we were so loaded at safety last year that Tech was going to start 2 linebackers and 3 safetys until Taylor got hurt. To say we wouldn’t miss Morgan Burnette would be stupid, I think we will be ok there. We’ve got a couple of young corners who I think will be in the mix, so again, I’m cautiously optomistic about the backfield on defense.

I think my main worries are about linebacker. We need 4 to play, and I think we’ve converted a couple of ex-defensive ends who are better suited for outside linebackers. And we do have some talent, but it seems that injuries have been a real problem over the last couple of years. And heck, I’ve already expressed my ignorance of the 3-4 defense since I watch mainly college ball where it’s not as prevalent as the NFL. I think if Groh can put out a defense with a credible group of linebackers, Tech will be much better on defense than last year. And if the defense can win us a couple of games — most notably in my opinion against North Carolina and Miami — we have a good chance of competing as champions of the ACC again.

Margaret Thatcher

June 22nd, 2010
8:58 am

Had my eye on Peters since he signed, and I’m hoping that he’s finally found a home. All the news from Spring would indicate he has. Cross, Cummings, and Lanier will be good. Real good. By year’s end, these guys will be humming. Just in time for Miami and Georgie.

Americus Jacket

June 22nd, 2010
9:00 am

@Adman: I could see it if you said UGA or Alabama or LSU had better athletes than Tech — I would agree with you. But UVA? I realize that “stars” can be totally wrong by the recruiting services, but they usually focus on the athleticism of high school players. Most of Groh’s defensive players at Virginia were 2-stars with, I think, 1 4-star and 1 5-star during his tenure there. Although in the ACC I think you would not rank Tech as the top athletic team in the conference, they are certainly more athletic than UVA.

one tech fan not drinking the Kool aid

June 22nd, 2010
9:04 am

The scheme doesn’t matter if you do not have the players to compete.

dawgfan

June 22nd, 2010
9:16 am

Georgia Tech has a defensive line? When did this happen? They look more like a blocking sled. Only in the ACC could a team that was as weak up front as Tech was last year win 11 games. What a pile of crap conference.

Paddy, what would Al Groh do to AdMan, swing his walker at him? He might fall down and break a hip doing that. Not a good idea.

collegeballfan

June 22nd, 2010
9:19 am

“I hope Tech and UGA are both undefeated when they play each other.”

Amen! That is my wish every year. In all sports, not just football.

Tech has its work cut out for it on defense. Last year the defense was poor at best. Without a big infusion of new talent one cannot expect a huge improvement. In particular, in a year where a new defense is being installed (this applies to UGA also).

Tokyo jacket

June 22nd, 2010
9:20 am

Americus, I totally agreed with you until your second post. Groh had some studs at UVA – a handful of 5-stars and several 4-stars. The difference between Groh and others is…he put his high star players in the NFL. Check out rivals. He brought in good talent and put them in the NFL. Groh’s problem was as a head coach, not as a coordinator. Groh’s defense was on the field a LONG time for the past couple of years. Their yards per play wasn’t that bad.

Look for Groh’s defense to give us two extra possessions this year. CPJ can do a lot with two extra possessions. I think that so long as the D-line averages above 285 lbs, we’ll be in good shape with some ex-DEs at OLB. We’re going to be bigger in the front 7 this year. That’s a good thing. UGA will not be able to run at will with an extra 150 lbs across the line. D-line is still the biggest concern.

But look for the GT defense to look like the offense in CPJ’s first year: ugly at times, looking odd most of the time, players frequently in the wrong positions, but surprisingly effective. Combine that with one of the most prolific offenses in football, and that equals at least 10 wins.

Tokyo jacket

June 22nd, 2010
9:23 am

Dawgfan, what is Dawg Nation doing without its brain trust? Shouldn’t you be off scheming on how to stop Kentucky or making travel plans to Shreveport or making sure UGA XVI has a pooper scooper?

Chuck Allison

June 22nd, 2010
9:27 am

Doug Roberson, you need to do your homework. Logan Walls is larger than Ben Anderson. Check the roster Logan actually hopes to play around 300# while Ben is around 275#. However, Ben is the strongest man of the four.

Americus Jacket

June 22nd, 2010
9:30 am

@koolaid: I think that’s what this discussion is all about — whether Tech will be successful. I think you are going to see some “stars” who we didn’t really think could contribute playing in a different scheme. My top pick on going to the 3-4: Anthony Barnes. Athletic player who just didn’t seem to fit into the defense the last couple of years.

Americus Jacket

June 22nd, 2010
9:48 am

@Tokyo, I guess it’s different rating systems. I did go to Scout, looked at the Groh’s last few UVA recruiting classes, and found that he recruited about 19 2-stars, 21 3-stars, and 1 4 & 5 star. During the same period, Tech had 8 2-stars and many more 4-stars. (Just defense.)

And except for our disagreement about that, I think (hope) the rest of your post is right on target. Last year around this time I was REALLY excited about the offense. This year it’s about the defense. I mean, just think: What if Groh really does to the defense what Johnson has done for the offense? It would really be great to be a Yellow Jacket.

Americus Jacket

June 22nd, 2010
9:49 am

And yes, to answer the question that all of ya’ll are thinking: I should have something better to do with my time. It’s just I took the morning off work, need to cut the grass, and this is much more satisfying.

Hold your stones till I'm finished...

June 22nd, 2010
9:57 am

PJ needs to start recruiting, not just size, but strength and athleticism. He does with the DL what he does with the OL, or should I say, HAS to do…..he gets these 240-250 lb guys and it takes 2 or 3 seasons to beef them up. Or he gets a 300 lb guy that has 40 lbs of fat on him and so it takes a season to lose the fat and another season to beef back up to 300 lbs of muscle. Meanwhile, UGA gets guys like Dantzler, who is listed at 6′8″ 330. Imagine what he will look like in a couple of years after working out in their new 18 bazillion dollar weightroom! Granted PJ is at a disadvantage….he’s trying to recruit against the flagship university in the state, and whoever don’t want to play for St. Richt runs off to Auburn or Florida to play for an SEC powerhouse. Can you blame them? And let’s face it…our style of offense isn’t going to attract a star recruit wanting to play in the NFL. We are left trying to find recruits in Rhode Island or get the Georgia leftovers. It’s an uphill battle, but I’m just speaking outloud what every Tech fan is thinking. PJ has to find a way to get 3 or 4 guys like Derrick Morgan every season…not just one every 3 or 4 years. If he can’t, it’s going to be tougher and tougher as teams start trying harder and harder to stop us by outsizing and overpowering us on the lines like Iowa, Miami and UGA did last season. And whether or not we want to admit it…there is more and more tape of our offense floating around in coach’s offices these days. Teams are going to become more and more familiar with it. That being said, I think we’re going to be competitive because we got good coaches and a good scheme (regardless of what all of the “highschool offense” guys think), but if we are going to ever dominant the state and stay on top in the ACC…he’s gonna have to figure out a way to recruit some talent. UGA will always recruit better in the state, but there’s lots of talent to go around and if we can just keep some of the guys from going out of state to Alabama or Florida and sale them on our product, I think PJ will be around for a long, long time. JMHO.

North Ave Killer Beez

June 22nd, 2010
10:04 am

ADMAN.. watch yo mouf boy, we may get the leftovers in this state, BUT they are still GEORGIA BOYS!! I will take our athletes all day over Virginia. What have they ever won?

dawgfan

June 22nd, 2010
10:07 am

Kentucky actually beats Georgia more than once every 9 years. Kentucky won 3 straight bowl games under Rich Brooks, 2 of which were against ACC teams. Tech has lost 5 straight bowl games and counting. Kentucky beat the National Champion LSU Tigers in 2007. Tech got its sissy little ass kicked by the 8-5 LSU Tigers in 2008. Kentucky plays hard, doesn’t make excuses, and has everyone’s respect in the SEC. Tech runs its mouth, makes excuses when things don’t go well, and and garners very little respect outside of the ACC.

Tokyo Jacket, let me know how that foot tastes pal.

JW

June 22nd, 2010
10:19 am

dawgfan

When you earn atleast as many national titles as GT has in its trophy case, then you can run your mouth about who has respect.

Outside the state of Georgia, UGA football is irrelevant. No one considers UGA football in the ranks of Florida, Bama, LSU, Texas, Ohio State, Southern Cal, etc.

These are some painful facts for you I’m certain but they are facts nonetheless

superDawg

June 22nd, 2010
10:57 am

JW gt should be sued for fraud putting NC trophies in its small nerd box.Not one consensus trophy in the bunch.

dawgfan

June 22nd, 2010
11:00 am

Thank you for the ancient history lesson JW. Its just too bad that nobody cares. You can’t win bowl games. You can’t beat Georgia with any regularity. Yeah, I’m just all tore up over those national titles that Tech won when my grandparents were in elementary school. You really showed me. I guess I will console myself with the fact that we have beaten your snotty little arses 15 times in the past 19 tries. Georgia Tech is a pile of crap.

One All Crap Conference title in 18 years and the Techies get the big head. This is why nobody respects you. You are a joke.

RambleOn84

June 22nd, 2010
11:05 am

UGA fans prove once again that beating Tech is their only goal in life.

8-5 and a trip to Shreveport is a great success in their eyes because they beat Tech.

Can’t stop running their mouths about a program that has had far more success in its history. When both teams were in the same conference, UGA never had more conference championships than Tech. Tech also has more national championships.

Keep thinking about us, Athens Fairies…no wonder you never do anything on a national scale. You can’t take your eyes off Atlanta.

Dawghater

June 22nd, 2010
11:08 am

Groh can only make this defense better. Forget Morgan, even with his talent last years defense was horrible. The coaching will be the difference in the 2010 squad.

dawgfan

June 22nd, 2010
11:12 am

SuperDawg, they’ve got to put SOMETHING in that trophy case. I doubt the Emerald Bowl runner up gets a trophy, nor does the 2nd place finisher in the Humanitarian or Champs Sports Bowls. They gave themselves rings for making it to the Chicken Bowl but you can’t put rings in a trophy case. They may need to remove that 1919 “National Champion” trophy to make room for their 2009 All Crap Conference Champion trophy. That will probably be a tough pill to swallow for a lot of Tech fans. 1919 was such a magical season. I’m sure a lot of them will never forget it.

ugaclassof2004

June 22nd, 2010
11:13 am

For Tech to be able to compete at the National Level, they have got to get better talent in the trenches. LSU and UGA didn’t beat Tech because they have the superior coaching, they won because they had better talent on the line.

With that being said, I think Tech’s program is on the upswing even if they take a bit of a step back this season due to most of the top play makers graduating. I think Paul Johnson is a solid head coach who understands every facet of a football team and is willing to make changes when needed, unlike Mark Richt who has taken on a “Ivory Tower” approach to coaching and won’t make a change until it’s too late.

I don’t particularly think that Al Groh is a defensive mastermind. But the guy has had head coaching experience in college and the NFL in addition to coaching some solid NFL talent, so he knows what it will take to get to the next level. This could pay off for Tech in terms of recruiting, which is 70% of it in college footbal when you really think about it. Tech has a solid offensive scheme, and if they are able to attract solid 4 star recruits to their defense, being a perennial ACC title contender isn’t out of the question.

Ezekiel

June 22nd, 2010
11:16 am

Lanier is probably the heir apparent at nose tackle but you can’t overlook the size that Barnes brings to the table. If he can learn to play low just based on sheer size he could be a monster. Overall this defensive line will probably be average at best this season but the key will be how well Groh will be able to scheme and disrupt the opponent. You can talk more GT football at: http://www.bbuzzoff.com

hiveredtech

June 22nd, 2010
11:21 am

Returning starters???: Ben Anderson, T.J. Barnes, Izaan Cross, Robert Hall, Jason Peters, Logan Walls.

Don’t you mean ‘Returning Players’? We have zero returning starters from last years DL….only Wallls and Anderson were starters at their position…both DT.

Probably should mention Shawn Green and Denzel McCoy. They will be given every opportunity to be the first NT and first DE off the bench…respectively.

superDawg

June 22nd, 2010
11:24 am

I love when tekies get puffed up before a UGA game.Deflation is so much fun to watch.

superDawg

June 22nd, 2010
11:26 am

superDawg

June 22nd, 2010
11:27 am

dawgfan that is how you bend a stinger.

11-0-1 1990 National Champs

June 22nd, 2010
11:31 am

Dawgtards – Thanks for your negative two cents, now go back summer school.

The real Dog fans that posted positve comments, Thank You. I wish more fans from BOTH our school could do that.

I have no worries about our offense putting up the same awesome numbers as last year. We will again be one of the best offenses in the nation. If Groh can get the defense to be 10% better than last years defense, we are in great shape this year to compete for the ACC title for CPJ’s third year in a row. Switching defensive schemes during the season last year let us all know it would be a long year for that side of the ball.

DOG POOPS

June 22nd, 2010
11:36 am

glad to see Toyko Jacket on this blog..you unemployed dog morons have nothing better to do than stay on ajc all day and night, same ole same ole ..and nobody reads your comments except the other dog morons.. bet none of you dog idiots ever played any sports or have seen the inside of a fitness center to do any weight training or cardio in 30 years..just blah blah blah from you imbeciles day in and day out..

I mean C'mon...

June 22nd, 2010
12:05 pm

Why talk football when we can all join the same chat room and play World of Warcraft?!

Nate

June 22nd, 2010
12:26 pm

It amazes me how much some of these ‘dawg’ fans actually know about dragonconz, world of warcraft and such to crack jokes. Oh the irony.

a jacket for ever

June 22nd, 2010
12:29 pm

Can someone please tell me why the AJC has left the information about the arrest of a former player as the top item under the Georgia Tech Section for over a week now.

Let the Athens folks stay here their insight just makes us all realize we are thankfulf that we are American by birth and Georgia Tech by the Grace of God.