Spring Football Report #3
April 5, 2012
The Rams are in week three of the spring practice season and things have really picked up. The players are getting better acclimated to new systems and the coaches are getting to know the players better as the squad looks ahead to the 2012 Spring Game on Saturday, April 28th.
Wednesday was the final practice before a five-day Easter Break for the Rams, both from practice and classes. But that didn't mean that the team pulled back on the reins as the gridders went through the paces at breakneck speed on Murphy Field.
"It was a good day," said head coach Joe Moorhead to his charges following practice. "The defense had three takeaways, which is what we're looking for, and the offense moved the ball. Every day we're looking to make ourselves a better football team. We should never accept mediocrity."
Last week we took a look at the Fordham offense, this week it's the defense, a unit that returns eight starters, including four of the top five tacklers, and ranked third in the Patriot League in passing defense last year. But Moorhead will look for the squad to improve on their rushing defense as well as to increase the number of takeaways as the Rams managed just 13 last fall.
The Rams will have to replace one starter on the defensive line but that task could be made easier by the return of Justin Yancey, who missed all but one game last year with an injury. In 2010, Yancey appeared in all eleven games as a freshman for the Rams, starting eight at nose guard. He led all freshmen and all defensive linemen with 41 total tackles, 28 solo, including a team-high 10.5 for loss and tied for third in the Patriot League in tackles for loss/game (0.95) and tied for 13th in sacks/game (0.27).
The returning starters on the defensive line are Patrick McGee, who returns for a fifth season after starting ten games at tackle in 2011, and Matthew Sconiers, who started the last four games of the year at defensive end. McGee recorded 20 total tackles last year, including two for loss and one sack, while Sconiers registered eleven.
Other returning players who will be seeing time on the defensive line include DeAndre Slate and John LaSure, who both played in all eleven games last year. Slate notched 23 total tackles, including 3.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks, while LaSure finished the season with nine stops. Both will be looking to move into the starting lineup this year.
The linebacking corps returns three of the four starters from 2011, led by Michael Martin, who topped the Rams with 94 total tackles, 51 solo, including three for loss and 1.5 sacks, as he started all eleven games for the Rams.
Jake Rodriques, who stepped in and contributed immediately as a freshman, also returns after ranking third on the team last fall with 69 total tackles, 44 solo, including five for loss and 1.5 sacks, as does Nick Womack, who started ten games last fall, recording 38 tackles, including six for loss and 3.5 sacks, both teams highs.
Along with the three returning starters, Fordham has a number of other linebackers returning with experience, including Anthony Pesanello, who recorded eleven tackles last year, Austin Hancock and Nick Merino, who each made seven stops in 2011, Brett Biestek, Victor DiFusco, and Richard Foligno.
Fordham returns a plethora of experience in the defensive backfield, led by Brendan Melanophy, a two-year starter at free safety who made 53 stops last year, 35 solo, and broke up a pair of passes, and Ian Williams, who started ten games at cornerback last fall, compiling 54 total tackles, 41 solo, and breaking up a team-best eight passes while also intercepting two.
Melanophy and Williams will be joined in the defensive backfield by Vaughn Scott, who started the final eight games of 2011 and recorded 36 tackles, and Jake Dixon, who made six starts at free safety as a freshman last fall, notching 22 tackles.
Other returning players with experience in the defensive backfield include Khary Powell, who made 16 tackles last year, Zac Crosby and Kassim Forbes, who both missed the 2011 season with injuries, Robert Palmer, Eric Darnell, Jordan Chapman, who made seven tackles in nine games last fall, De'Nard Pinckney, who appeared in six games as a rookie, Lourenzo Smith and Carter Bragg.
Also joining the Fordham defensive backs this spring is Levon Williams, a transfer from Nassau Community College where he made 61 tackles and had two interceptions last fall.