With the graduation of defensive end Zack Imhoff ’12, Cornell will scratch and claw this season to put forth a viable defensive line, one that had difficulty generating pressure on the quarterback and stopping the run in 2011 even with the two-time All-Ivy League selection. According to junior defensive end and defensive co-captain Tre’ Minor, who started all 10 games last year and recorded 48 tackles, replacing Imhoff’s production is not a task for one individual but instead requires a group effort.
“Zack was a great part of our defense last year,” Minor said of the converted linebacker who in 2011 ranked second in the Ancient Eight with 8.5 sacks in addition to 57 tackles (17 for lost yardage), three forced fumbles and one interception. “[We’re] not really trying to replace him, but people [are] stepping up and being able to do their job. We’re giving everybody a chance … we’re trying to keep everyone fresh.”
Minor joins senior Emmitt Terrell, who snatched one of the Red’s 12 interceptions last season, as the starting defensive ends. Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Emile Chang returns to the middle of the D-line after sitting out nearly all of 2011 due to injury, looking to build on his 37 career tackles. By his side is sophomore defensive tackle Cadell Williams, who started six games as a freshman a year ago.
The Red defense may lack star power up front, but the line boasts several capable backups. Senior defensive end Hugh Stewart ripped through opponents early in the 2011 campaign, tallying 13 tackles and two sacks before getting injured and missing the final six contests. Sophomore defensive tackle Shane McManamon notched 19 tackles last year, while junior D-tackle Kevin Marchand came one stop short of that total. Minor believes all the bodies will provide flexibility for the coaching staff and the squad’s defensive schemes.
“When it’s time to rush the passer, we’re going to have a group of people come in to rush the passer,” Minor said. “When it’s time to stop the run, we’ve got people who can do that as well. And we have people that can do both.”
The remaining Cornell defensive line, however, did not rush the passer well nor stop the run effectively in 2011. The Red surrendered 179.4 rushing yards per game and 21 touchdowns on the ground, second to last and last in the Ivies, respectively. Outside of Imhoff, the D-line combined for only four of the team’s 19 sacks. In fact, the Red defense forced more turnovers (21) than sacks, just over two per game. However, Cornell can rely on a simple formula to conquer rushing the passer, Minor said.
“First things first, we have to stop the run. Our offense is going to score — I have no doubt about that. And if we stop the run and our offense scores, then [opponents are] going to have to pass the ball because they’ll be down. And then we’ll be able to just key in on the pass and the D-line up front will be able to get after the QB.”
Original Author: Quintin Schwab