Inside Linebackers: D+
- Brant Mitchell
- David Curry
- Quez Jackson
This group had the toughest day of any position, and all three looked overwhelmed by the task at hand. Let’s start with their run support. Curry and Mitchell should both be a strength in our run defense and should only ever be a liability on passing downs. On Saturday, they were a liability in both. They were consistently taken out of the play whenever a USF lineman was able to reach them, and on the plays they were unblocked, they filled the wrong gaps. The only tackles they seemed to make on the day were shoestring tackles when the running back was already multiple yards downfield. Instead of playing downhill and being aggressive, they appeared passive and unsure of what to do.
Then came their attempts to contain Barnett. I believe Mitchell and Curry are strong and instinctive linebackers, but they took terrible angles at him throughout the game. A Quarterback that isn’t known as a runner had no trouble beating them to the corner on multiple occasions. It seems that this position group is missing is an athletic playmaker in space and Bruce Jordan-Swilling’s return couldn’t come soon enough to fill this gap. I think his return will also allow Curry and Mitchell to play a role in the defense they are better suited for and this group will suddenly become a strength.
Standout Performer: Quez Jackson
The true freshman gets the nod for two reasons 1) he did not get ejected and 2) he was able to make a few tackles at the line of scrimmage. He should be a great player as he gets a chance to familiarize himself with the college game.