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SECOND QUARTER GRADES: Linebackers


Grade: B+

First Quarter Grade: A-

Stats:

Tackles

Sacks

Pass Defense

Fumbles

Blkd

DEFENSIVE LEADERS

GP

Solo

Ast

Total

TFL-Yds

No-Yds

Int-Yds

BU

PD

Qbh

Rcv-Yds

FF

Kick

Saf

46

Louis Bland

3

15

8

23

2.0

-11

1-9 .

1

.-22

.

1

.

.

2.

.

.

43

Alex Hoffman-Ellis

2

13

4

17

.5

-1

..

.

0.

0.

0

.

.

.

45

Andy Mattingly

3

7

9

16

1.5

-3

.

0

1

0

1

-0

.

.

51

Jason Stripling

3

9

5

14

1.5

-4

.

.

0

0

.

.

.

.

13

Myron Beck

3

4

1

5

.

.

1

1

.

.

.

.

.

44

Mike Ledgerwood

3

1

0

1

.

.

.

0.

0.

.

.

.

.

.

Comments: The linebackers continue to be the most talented and consistent group on defense. The four guys that have played the majority of the snaps are all serviceable Pac 10 players. However, only being "serviceable" is the one thing that has been an issue. With the so-so play of the defensive line and the lack of speed in the backfield, the linebacking corps would need to be All-World to give the Cougs a shot at a decent defense.

That's not really their fault though. They are still pretty solid and still made some of the big plays in the second quarter of the season that they did in the first quarter of the season. What's evident in the young guys is that this group is becoming smaller and faster.

Two of those smaller, faster guys, Alex Hoffman-Ellis and Louis Bland, have been battling it out at middle linebacker, and the truth is, they both deserve the time. Both guys have had their chances, as the linebackers have not been immune to the epidemic of injuries that have hit the Cougs this season. Both guys have also taken full advantage of their chances, putting up some huge tackle numbers and forcing turnovers.

On the outside, Andy Mattingly has held his own, but has not been the beast in the pass rush that WSU so desperately needs. Jason Stripling, who has had one of the strangest careers you will see, seems to be the week link of the group. He is not very dynamic in any one area and he is not all that great in any area. Each guy was able to record some nice TFL numbers, each making 1.5.

What can be done to improve: Very similar to what I said in the first quarter grades, these guys need to step up and make game-changing plays. This team cannot win without the defense putting points on the board, and the linebackers are the only ones that have done that so far.

They also need to get in the backfield (same as first quarter grades). The Pac 10 has a lot of run-oriented teams these days (When on Earth did that happen?) and for the defense to be effective they need to limit those first down runs and eventually force obvious passing situations on third down. The defensive line does not get into the backfield, so the linebackers need to use that speed (looking at you Louis Bland and Hyphen) to get in there disrupt running plays.