The Northwestern Wildcats will be looking to repeat the success of 2012 next season and are looking to put the pieces together this spring to get the job done. One area that figures to be a strength for the Wildcats next season is the defensive line, which was pretty good a year ago. Pat Fitzgerald will ask this unit to take the next step in 2013, however, for Northwestern to return to the postseason for a second straight season. For them to get there, they will lean on senior Tyler Scott at defensive end.
Scott broke out last season as the team’s leading sack-artist, recording nine sacks in 2012 after getting just one his first two years on the field. He finished the year with 42 tackles, including 12.5 tackles for loss, five pass break ups and three forced fumbles to his name as well. He emerged as a force off the edge and is in line for some serious hardware next year if he continues to improve. He’ll undoubtedly make the All-Big Ten preseason team next fall and could end the year with some national awards on his mantle.
But he won’t be alone out there. The Wildcats have the luxury of three starting-caliber defensive ends on their roster this spring with sophomore Dean Lowry and Deonte Gibson battling it out to see who will start opposite of Scott. No matter which one wins out, all three will get heavy rotation next fall as they all have the skill to make an impact on the defensive side of the ball. In addition, redshirt freshman Ifeadi Odenigbo will get time as well, particularly on third-down pass rush situations.
Defensive tackle looks healthy with plenty of depth as well for next year with returning starter Sean McEvilly being pushed by younger linemen looking to break through. Behind McEvilly at one tackle position, redshirt freshman Greg Kuhar and sophomore C.J. Robbins jockey for position in the defensive rotation while junior Chance Carter makes a run at senior Will Hampton‘s job at the other tackle position. The heated competition will produce greater depth for Fitzgerald next fall and strengthen the interior of the defensive line.
In all, the defense for Northwestern should be one of the better units in the Big Ten next season. With Tyler Scott leading the charge from his defensive end position, the defensive line in particular should be a strength of the defense and allow Northwestern to return to the postseason in 2013.