FanPost

USC Recruiting 2002-2009 Defensive End

After a long break between these I'm back with the (6th?) part in my look at USC's recruiting (well more like commits as I don't include info on players who were recruited but went elsewhere) from 2002-2009 under Pete Carroll. This time I'm back with Defensive Ends. Originally I was planning on doing the whole defensive line in one post but there ended up being enough to separate them out. I also found the portion of the USC site where they keep all the official player stats which has helped tremendously in compiling a better picture. I'll try and have defensive tackle soon.

DE
2002 Van Brown        DE 6-4    240    4.6
2003 Lawrence Jackson    DE 6-5    245    4.9
2004 Lawrence Miles    DE 6-3    260    4.7
2004 Jimmy Miller    DE 6-5    240    4.6 //playerd TE his whole career
2004 Jeff Schweiger Jr.    DE 6-5    245    4.5
2004 Michael Stuart    ATH 6-4    220    4.6
2005 Kyle Moore        DE 6-6    247    4.73
2005 Averell Spicer    DE 6-2    260    4.6
2006 Derek Simmons    DE 6-4    268    5.12
2007 Everson Griffen    DE 6-4    265    4.55
2007 Trey Henderson    DE 6-3    264    4.9
2007 Michael Reardon    DE 6-6    260    4.7
2007 Christian Tupou    DE 6-3    260    4.8
2008 Wes Horton        DE 6-6    240    4.8
2008 Malik Jackson    DE 6-5    212    -
2008 Nick Perry        DE 6-4    235    4.51
2009 Kevin  Greene    DE 6-3    230    4.65
2009 Jarvis Jones    DE 6-3    226    4.6
2009 Devon Kennard    DE 6-3    257    4.7

Draft Picks

2004      1      20    Kenechi Udeze
2006      3      91    Frostee Rucker
2008      1      28    Lawrence Jackson
2009      4      117  Kyle Moore

History/Context
The 2001 roster feature veterans Kenechi Udeze and Omar Nazel as the starters at DE. I can't find a depth chart for 2002, but given that Udeze and Nazel were both starters again as part of USC's Wild Bunch II defensive line, I'm going to assume they started in 2002 as well. The 2003 line as already mentioned was dubbed "The Wild Bunch II" and lead the nation in rushing yards against (60.2 per game) and yards allowed per carry (1.84) both school records. Udeze was a consensus All American and went on to be a first round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings. Nazel missed 4 games in 2003 due to injury and was replaced by Frostee Rucker during those games. USC only allowed 1 100 yard rusher in 2003 and one over a span of 26 games. In 2004 Frostee Rucker and Lawrence Jackson replaced Nazel and Udeze as the starters at end, with Schweiger, Shaun Cody and LaJuan Ramsey rotating as backups. Jackson and Rucker combined for 57 tackles, 18.5 for a loss, 7.5 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 INT and 3 Pass deflections. In 2005 Lawrence Jackson, or LoJack as he was now known and Frostee Rucker continued on as starters and Jeff Schweiger managed to appear in 8 games (accumulating only 5 solo tackles). Kyle Moore and Jeff Schweiger were tabbed to replace Rucker in 2006, while Lawrence Jackson continued as a starter for a third consecutive year. Neither Schweiger or Moore were particularly effective as they combined for only 7 tackles that year.

In 2007 Everson Griffen became the first true freshman to start on the defensive line for USC in 21 years after beating out Kyle Moore in camp, Lawrence Jackson was once again the starter at the other end position. Kyle Moore continued to see a lot of playing time, and actually finished ahead of Griffen in tackles at the end of the season. Averell Spicer and Derek Simmons both saw time as backups, but Simmons playing time came primarily as a defensive tackle. Jeff Schweiger, transferred to San Jose St after losing playing time due to injuries/other people surpassing him. He was definitely one of the bigger busts that I recall. Kyle Moore regained his starting spot in 2008 with Griffen flanking him at the other end. My enduring memory of the 2008 defensive line will be the Oregon State game where they were consistently beaten by the Beavers O-Line on the same dive play over and over. In 2009 Griffen returned as started, this time flanked by Wes Horton who had served as a back up in 2008. Also of note Christian Tupou served as the starting NT. Nick Perry also saw a lot of time in 2009 he finished tied for the team lead with 8 sacks despite being only an occasional player.

Analysis
From 2002-2004 the anchor point of the USC defense was the defensive line. Their culminating year was 2004 when they set the above mentioned records for rushing yards per game and yards per carry and helped USC shutdown an Oklahoma Sooners roster featuring a Adrian Peterson. The years following did not seem to see the same level of success, and the defense became shaped more around the talents of future NFL LBers Clay Mathews, Rey Maualuga, Keith Rivers and Brian Cushing. Part of the problem was the inability to develop more than 1 consistent DE at a time.

Schweiger was hurt a lot and never lived up to the expectations of someone with his abilities and genetics. Spicer also underperformed throughout his career. Simmons was too slow and switched positions, and I don't even remember Reardon or Henderson. What is particularly troubling about this is when you realize that the best defensive lines of Pete Carroll's career at USC featured players he didn't recruit and that the performance of his defensive lines has gotten progressively worse each season. Could it be a schematic thing? Did USC's opponents catch up to what USC was doing with their lines? The 2008 Oregon State game and the 2009 Stanford game certainly would lend creedence to this. In fact I believe the Ohio State line even commented after this years game on how unsurprised they were by what USC showed with its front four. Sadly I don't think I have the means to fully explore this.

How this applies to the current roster/draft

As John posted a few days ago, fixing the defensive line is something that the Seahawks need to do. Coach Carroll has shown an ability to get results out of existing talent and perhaps the fact that Seattle has some preexisting talent might mean that he and his coaching staff can focus more on how to utilize them than on acquiring new talent. Tapp seems a little on the short side for Pete's profile, but his other measurables fit the profile. And I probably don't need to mention Lawrence Jackson. My personal opinion is that depending upon how things play out with Kerney, Coach Caroll is probably going to want to bring in at least one more guy who fits his speed rushing profile. While the lazy analyst might say that would be Everson Griffen in this years draft, there seems to be a good number of late round guys who would fit the athletic profile just as well. So not necessarily a priority position, but definitely somewhere where I can see Pete bringing a guy in just to help push the existing guys.

Stats

2001
Name    Solo Ast Total TFL Sacks INT FF
Udeze    22   13   35   9   4     0   0
Nazel    11    4      15   4   3     1   0

2002
Name    Solo Ast Total TFL Sacks INT FF
Udeze    34   10   44   16   7.5  1   6
Nazel    30    8      38   10.5 6.5  1   1

2003
Name    Solo Ast Total TFL Sacks INT FF
Udeze    38   18   56   26   16.5 0   5
Nazel    18    9      27   6.5   4   1   0
Rucker    13   13   26   4     1.5 1   1

2004
Name    Solo Ast Total TFL Sacks INT FF
Jackson    19   13   32   11   6     1   0
Rucker    21    8      29   7.5  2.5   0   1
Schweiger 7  11   18   4.5  2.0   0   1

2005
Name    Solo Ast Total TFL Sacks INT FF
Jackson    32   14   46   13   10    0   4
Rucker    35   21      56   14   6.5   1   2
Schweiger 5   6   11    1   0     0   1

2006
Name    Solo Ast Total TFL Sacks INT FF
Jackson    26   17   43   11   4     1   1
Moore     4   1      5     0   0     0   0
Schweiger 2   0   2     0   0     0   0

2007
Name    Solo Ast Total TFL Sacks INT FF
Jackson    31   29   65   17   10.5  0   2
Moore    15   20      35   3.5   2    2   1
Griffen 15   6    21   5.5   5.5  0   2

2008
Name    Solo Ast Total TFL Sacks INT FF
Moore    16   14      30   9.5   5    0   0
Griffen 11   7    18   6     4.5  0   0

2009
Name    Solo Ast Total TFL Sacks INT FF
Griffen 22   23    45  9.5   8    0   1
Kennard 18   16    34  2     0    0   1
Horton  10   13    23  1.5   1    0   0
Perry   16    8    24  9     8    0   0
Jackson 11    7    18  3.5   3.5  0   1

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