How The Rams Defensive Line Goes, So Goes The Season
Returning Starters Look To Anchor Things Up Front
Is This The Year To Expect Good Things From Rams D?
The fact is that Colorado State has not been known for its defense during head coach Mike Bobo’s tenure. 2018 saw the introduction of a new defensive coordinator with Power 5 experience and yet the Rams still finished 108th in total defense and 111th against the run. If they are to improve on those numbers, it has to start in the trenches.
Good news for the Colorado State faithful is that there is some reason for hope in 2019. Sophomore nose tackle Devin Phillips is a load and is on some folks pre-season first-team Mountain West Conference defense. He started the first 10 games a true freshman but an injury kept him out of the last two games. He’s expected to be 100% for fall camp and if he can stay that way or close to it, the line has its anchor.
Junior defensive end Emmanuel Jones is believed to be the key to putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2019. He had some solid numbers in the 10 games he played in a year ago (7.5 tackles for a loss) but like Philips, he needs to be there for all 13 games and be a force in all of them.
While Philips and Jones look cemented the line, the real question marks come from the other two spots.. First there is junior defensive tackle Ellison Hubbard. Hubbard has shown flashes of being a major disrupter in the middle of the line and then there are times when he just flat out disappears during a game.
If Hubbard can eat up blocks and show some consistency then he and Philips clogging the middle can give a lot more one-on-one opportunities to the outside rushers which should give a better chance of getting pressure on the opposing quarterback.
One of those outside rushers and the other question mark is Arizona State transfer Jalen Bates. Bates is a redshirt senior and played in all 13 games a year ago for the Sun Devils.
What he can bring to the table is truly the unknown on this defensive line going into 2019. Is he going to be a complementary edge rusher to Jones or is he a better edge setter where he can string out runs and force a play back inside to Hubbard and Philips? Time will tell but he and the rest of the line will be tested early two of the teams first three games are against Power 5 opponents.
The defensive line will set the tone for the rest of the defense. They show up and can find a way to slow down an opponent’s run game from an average of 211 yards to say 186 yards a game then that can change the whole dynamic of Colorado State’s season. As the defensive line goes, so may the Rams bowl hopes.