Spring 2023 Position Previews: Defensive Line

So I hate to start this Monday off with a pretty minimal preview, but we are running a 3-3-5 and quite honestly Coach Knighton is only going to have 2 guys on the field in most occasions. Maybe 3. I still remember looking down at the DL doing drills while I was watching QBs who had 7 guys there (2 out injured) and seeing about twice as many QBs as DL players.

I won’t get too much into what I think about the scheme until Thursday with my practice report, but the long and short of it is it somewhat makes sense why we have so few defensive linemen. It almost reminds me for Coach Knighton of the QB coaches we had… just go grab 1-2 scholarship players a year and be done with it. If he’s here for 5 years that’s 8-10 dudes and it’s plenty for how we run things.

I know what i’m saying is confusing since we are running a 3-3-5, but the third player along the line would be a hybrid LB/DE. While Knighton will be coaching them I think it’s more of a LB role until we get into the heavy run teams like Illinois and Iowa (maybe not so much Wisconsin anymore so something to be said there).

Overall with us being more of a 2 DL and 1 hybrid situation on the 3 man front, I feel a lot better. I’ll get into the scheme and B1G in my defensive practice preview on Thursday.

Ty Robinson

Let’s start with this guy being out… it’s so tough to get a read on our situation with him not being in the mix this spring. He will be a lynchpin for sure with us, and it makes me somewhat confident with what we have coming back. I think this staff is generally ok with where we are right now, and Robinson will only strengthen that when he gets back.

The 4 working when I looked down

I got real worried when I looked down and only saw Knighton working with 4 DL one period. Hutmacher, Wynn, Buckley, and Tagaloa were working on the sled and I really grew worried. However, I forgot about the Robinson injury, and Jeudy was off doing some other work.

I actually am somewhat confident here with the 2 out of 3 DL we will be playing. Robinson while disappointing in my opinion relative to recruiting ranking is at least someone you can lean on, you have to find one more which I think we can do. Wynn has shown flashes and so has Hutmacher. Jeudy actually has looked good as well.

It was evident when our DL was going against the backups

While I try not to cut people down, guys like Hutmacher, Buckley, and Tagaloa were non-existent when going against our starting linemen. However, once the reserves came in (only 12 OL this spring) they all shined. I just think these guys have a ways to go but we will need to lean on them a bit. The key for this DL group will be to stay healthy.

The third spot on the DL is intriguing

So for this you have the “hybrid” guys I would call them such as Gunnerson, Sherman, Wallin, Lenhardt, and Umanmielen. This is a really cool position but we have a ton of options. If we can somehow find out how to get the offense behind the chains you all of a sudden have a bunch of athletic guys used to playing on the line to insert into a passing situation. A very difference scenario from the first few years of Chinander where you would have unathletic guys out trying to chase the QB down in passing situations.

Sherman looks exactly like you would think from a Georgia transfer, we will need him. Of course I haven’t had a chance to see Gunnerson as he’s out with injury, and Walling, Lenhardt, and Umanmielen are all first year guys.

The new guys

Carroll-Jackson who was recruited by Syracuse I think will be a pleasant surprise despite his ratings for us in the fall. Van Poppel is the four star we all needed and is basically Ty Robinson 2.0. What he has going in his favor is the development that this staff will hopefully give.


I was really worried here when we lost who we did, but seeing the new defense in action we aren’t as bad as I thought. I will get into this when I get into the defensive practice observations, but what we are being asked to do is way different now. So you can have younger and first year guys play earlier because we aren’t trying to just eat up blocks. It’s exactly how I would play as a defensive coordinator.

Do I still think we need to go grab a portal defensive lineman? Absolutely. We need a high end guy. When you think about it, Colton Feist was arguably our best DL last year. He was a walk-on but chose to move on with another year of eligibility left. That just can’t be the case and shines a little light on why 5 wins in year 2 was the ceiling for our previous staff.

Join us tomorrow when I have two posts… first is the coaching differences between this staff and the previous, second is offensive practice observations

ShortSideOption Blog (DL Preview)

Nothing is required, just helps with site fees


4 thoughts on “Spring 2023 Position Previews: Defensive Line

  1. This position is the one that worries me the most so I’m a bit surprised so I’m glad that you don’t seem too worried. If you had to guess who would be our starter next to Robinson, Wynn? Also I know DL isn’t a spot that you want to play a true freshman but Van Poppel physically looks like he could come in and at least compete. I think he’ll be a guy that gets to play in 4 games at least, if not more. Also I thought Borders was supposed to be an “Edge” guy but haven’t heard him mentioned there at all.

    1. I am really struggling with EDGE/DE or OLB guys like Butler so I could very well have missed him. I need to see Gunnerson healthy, but i’d probably with Robinson and Jeudy right now. Wynn has impressed me a bit as well. Hutmacher has been holding his own. I’m just curious how our edge thing will work out.

  2. I have no idea what the defense will look like. I am not sure on positions groups in this defense. I do think the defense will be the weak spot this year just due to the lack of talent on the dline. Fans are going hate it but I think overtime it can be a great defensive of scheme. Maybe you can try to explain how the 3-3-5 will work.

    1. Ya I am still trying to wrap my head around it. With the defense we had been running there’s a clear distinction but when I’ve been watching practice it’s just been a jumble of people which is hard to decipher. I’m excited for the spring game. But maybe my confusion is going to be the same with the offenses we play?

Leave a Reply