Talented, veteran group figures to be Miner strength.
Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles previewing the 2013 football season at Missouri S&T. The daily stories will feature one position, or a set of positions, each weekday until the team reports August 11. Today's story features the Miner defensive line.
Missouri S&T's defense was one of the best in both the Great Lakes Valley Conference and NCAA Division II during the 2012 season, with much of that success beginning with the play at the line of scrimmage.
The Miners finished last season ranked second in the nation in quarterback sacks with a school record 45 and was among the top teams in rushing defense, allowing only 86.7 yards per game on the ground.
The good news heading into the 2013 campaign? The majority of the contributors to that success will be back in uniform this fall.
S&T's defensive line will be headed by four players who earned All-GLVC laurels a year ago, including defensive tackle Eddie Rascon (Canutillo, Texas/Canutillo), an honorable mention All-America selection by Beyond Sports Network. Rascon was tenth in the nation with 13 sacks a year ago and finished with 44 tackles overall. He will line up beside Josip Juric (West Des Moines, Iowa/Dowling HS), a junior who was in on 37 tackles and was very effective at tying up offensive linemen throughout the year.
The starting defensive ends last season, Freddy Dugard (Queens Village, N.Y./St. Francis Prep) and Jimmy Barnhart (Union, Mo./Union), combined for 18 sacks and both were cited on the GLVC's all-conference team at the end of the year. Dugard and Barnhart, along with Rascon, received pre-season All-America mentions on USA College Football's squad released recently.
Not only are the four starters on the front line back, so are some of the key reserves in those positions as well. At defensive tackle, the Miners return Geoff Correnti (Bowling Green, Mo./Bowling Green), Steve Martin (St. Louis, Mo./Christian Brothers College HS) and converted offensive lineman Collin Powers (Glendale, Ariz./Ironwood), who Fenwick felt had a solid spring and could play his way into the mix as well. On the ends, the Miners got very productive 2012 seasons from Dan Mauszycki (Gardner, Kan./Gardner-Edgerton HS) and Dale Davey (Kansas City, Kan./Turner) – a combined 32 tackles, five pass breakups and five sacks.
"I think one of the keys to having a good defensive line is being able to have depth, so you can rotate guys to keep them fresh," said S&T head coach Tyler Fenwick. "When you don't have it, they get worn down over the course of a game and a season. But I think we have the depth that we can keep fresh players in throughout games."
Returning squadmembers Jacob Nutt (Pacific, Mo./Pacific) and A.J. Warren (Columbia, Mo./Rock Bridge HS) will also look to make contributions this season as well on the interior line, while redshirt freshman Andrew Masters (Kearney, Mo./Kearney) will also look to earn a role at defensive end this fall, as will incoming freshmen Dorian Yearby (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) and Garrett Tunnell (O'Fallon, Mo./O'Fallon Christian).
"As a whole, that defensive line is very active," Fenwick said. "This is a group that has a lot of character, they run to the ball, understand the defense and play really hard. They might be a bit undersized, but they make up for it with how hard they play."