OC, Matt Storm, and DC, Justin Deason, talk about their positional groups for the upcoming season
COMMERCE – With the kickoff to the 2014 Lion football season 48 hours away, defensive coordinator, Justin Deason, and offensive coordinator, Matt Storm, talk about their respective units in a positional break down.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Lions have depth and speed at the skill positions that will be a pick your poison for opposing defenses.
Returning 2013 Lone Star Conference wide receiver of the year, Vernon Johnson, anchors a group that will be tough to cover by opposing defensive backs.
Johnson, who also picked up All-LSC First Team honors, after hauled in a single-season A&M-Commerce record 70 catches for a record 1,350 yards in 2013. Johnson also set the school record with 13 receiving touchdowns. He has picked up numerous preseason All-American from publications and was named to the Reese’s Senior Bowl watch list. The Reese’s Senior Bowl is the premier event for college seniors and your-year juniors, who already have their degree, prior to the NFL Draft.
Add in Second Team All-LSC performers Seth Smith and Jordan Jenkins along with newcomer Ricky Collins, who Storm called dynamite with the ball in his hands, as starters and the Lions will take full advantage of the wide outs this season. Hayden Marsh, a deceptively fast and skilled pass catcher, and Taylor Peasha, a tough witty and gritty player, are two more Lions excepted to see significant playing time split out wide.
In the backfield the Lions will have Tyrik Rollison taking the snaps from center. Rollison and backup, Derek Davis, will be tasked with distributing the ball to talented receivers and backs. Rollison threw for 1,598 yards and 12 touchdowns in six games before suffering a season-ending injury. Davis, was 14-of-25 for 193 yards and five touchdowns, but was featured on the Lions goal-line packages as he tallied five rushing TDs.
At the running back position, the Lions have bulked up with University of Texas transfer Joe Bergeron listed atop the depth chart. Bergeron ran for 1,392 yards and 25 touchdowns in three seasons with the Long Horns. Returning sophomore Richard Cooper, who Storm called the most productive during the spring season and fall camp, and transfer Theo Wofford will also receive touches in the backfield. All of the Lion backs will play roles during the season.
The biggest improvement Storm saw during the spring season and fall preseason camp came with the offensive line unit.
Storm said the coaching staff has noted the improved and confidence from the hogs up front during the spring season and preseason fall camp. The unit has three returning starting to the line and one, who received considerable playing time in 2013.
On the opposite side of the ball, defensive coordinator Justin Deason thinks his defense’s strength is his squad’s depth.
Starting with the defensive front line Deason said their depth, strength and size will be hard to handle for opposing blockers. Preseason All-American and Preseason LSC Defensive Player of the Year Charles Tuaau anchors the group. Another player to watch on the Lion front is Brandon Turner, who Deason calls the Reverend. Turner is a solider lineman who accumulated 5.5 sacks in 2013.
The unit is the biggest front four in the league with one player over 340lbs and three others over 240lbs. It is also a group that brought back nine of ten players who played in 2013, a year which saw the Lions lead the LSC in sacks and finish second in the nation.
Deason was also complimentary of his young freshman lineman saying that this is the best group of lineman he has recruited out of high school and feels they will develop into great players.
The linebackers are lightening fast and deep with five of the six guys on the two deep returning with experience in the system from 2013. Cole Pitts anchors the group after making the move to middle linebacker from his SAM backer spot in 2013.
At the corner positions, the Lions are skill, fast and physical. The group returns everyone from the 2013 season. Deason will play a lot of players who bring different things to the defense throughout the season on exterior of the defense.
The safeties for the Lions feature three players who are new in 2014 with one returner, Pablo Vasquez. The players fit the Lions defensive system and are high football IQ guys.
Both coordinators are excited about the talent that will be on display for Lion fans during the 2014. Depth and speed were common themes with the two coaches and will be a common theme for a squad looking to build on a 7-5 season from 2013.