May 2, 2007

Holding the line

Coming into last season the defensive line was one of the Orange's biggest question marks. They were reeling from the losses of Kader Drame, James Wyche, and Ryan LaCasse to the NFL. Coming into 2006 Chris Thorner was the only player on the line with any significant experience. He was joined by Lee Williams at left end, Tony Jenkins at right tackle, and Jameel McClain at right end.

The group's inexperience showed as the Orange struggled against the run all season. Last year's defense allowed just over 185 rushing yards per game and close to five yards per carry. Twenty times Orange opponents pounded the ball into the end zone on the ground last season.

However there were bright spots on last year's line. Junior Jameel McClain emerged from relative obscurity to be one of the best players on the Orange defense. Coming from the right side, McClain recorded 9.5 sacks for 51 lost yards. He finished with 14.5 tackles for a loss, leading the team in that category. The next closest defender in TFL was Tony Jenkins, who finished with 8.5. McClain also finished with 69 total tackles, good enough for fourth overall on the team.

McClain's 9.5 sacks were good for best in the conference last season and he was second in the conference in tackles for a loss.

This year McClain will be back anchoring a more experienced unit of defensive lineman. He will be joined by second year starter Tony Jenkins at defensive tackle, and newcomers Brandon Gilbeaux at the other end position and Arthur Jones at nose tackle.

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