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Defensive line has been season’s biggest surprise

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Jeff Phelps has this unit rolling.

Washington State v UCLA Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Coming into the season the biggest question mark on the Cougar defense had to be the defensive line. The lack of returning players and size as well as the departure of assistant head coach/defensive line coach Joe Salavea left Cougar fans as “concerned” as United States senators. So far though the defensive line has been a revelation. It’s still early and the competition has been as very mediocre, but Cougar fans have to be encouraged.

Here are some of the happy numbers so far this season. The Cougars have allowed only 3.7 yards per carry and have accumulated 14 sacks as a team. Hercules Mata’afa and Namdi Oguayo have put up huge sack numbers with 4.5 and 3 respectively. These are huge numbers for the defensive ends, especially playing in a 3-4 defense. “Kool Herc” is leading the Pac-12 in sacks and TFL’s. Daniel Ekuale has been a stalwart at the nose tackle position, with former JC transfer Garrett McBroom has been a surprisingly effective back-up after moving over from the end position and has accumulated 2 sacks. Logan Tago and Derek Moore have done nice job providing depth at the end positions. We have yet to see what happens if an injury occurs and the competition steps up, but so far the front line has been a revelation.

So let’s give the players and new defensive line coach Jeff Phelps a ton of credit for their performance so far this year. A lack of size and depth coming into year has somehow become one of the positional strengths of the team.

This is my biggest surprise of the year. What’s yours?

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