Second Quarter Grade: C-
First Quarter Grade: C-
Stats (h/t cfbstats.com):
Tackles for loss
Unit stats - first quarter:
Forced Fumbles - 0
Rushing yards per attempt allowed - 5.32 (111th)
Rushing TD allowed - 6 (94th)
Unit stats now:
Forced Fumbles - 5
Rushing yards per attempt allowed - 5.45 (114th)
Rushing TD allowed - 17 (t-113th)
Not much has changed on the defensive line from the first quarter. They're still struggling, but not nearly much as they did last year. So, hey, that's a plus.
It's still Travis Long dominating the statistical categories, with 13 more solo tackles than his nearest competition on the line. The unit has suffered greatly from the possibly season-long loss of Kevin Kooyman, but at least they're no longer giving up 80-plus yard runs and getting blown up for holes you could drive a semi-truck through. That might change with Jahvid Best coming to town Saturday, but I really do believe this unit is much improved in handling their assignments and covering gaps when they need to.
And, yes, the rushing yards and TDs allowed are bad, but I can't re-emphasize enough that we gave up 50 rushing touchdowns last season. Right now we're on pace for 34, and while there's one less game to play this season, that's still an improvement of sixteen touchdowns - that's downright amazing. The D line has stepped up whether it's at the line of scrimmage or the goal line itself. We've gone from historically bad to just plain bad. It's a noticeable improvement.
Another tangible improvement: turnovers. Along with the rest of the defense, the defensive line has started recovering fumbles and aiding the Cougar offense. That's good for a unit that will be spending waaay too much time on the field this year and beyond thanks to an anemic Cougar offense. The D line needs to up the level of pressure on the quarterback, and that's possible with the teams on the remainder of the schedule having generally weaker units than say, USC or Oregon. And did I mention how awesome Travis Long is going to be down the road?
How to get the grade up:
Stay healthy, put some kind of pressure on the opposing QB, and keep teams under six yards per rush. In fact, if the WSU defensive line can help get that average down below five by the end of the year, we should all be willing to buy them a round of drinks. Except for Long and the others who are under 21, of course.