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Bearcats Defensive End Terrell Hartsfield Having A Breakout Senior Season

Coming into the season the focus along the defensive line for most of the Bearcats fans centered on Silverberry Mouhon who enjoyed a sensational sophomore season and seemed primed to be on his way to another good season and a potential early departure for the NFL. That is not how this season has played out at all, the best and most consistent Bearcat lineman hasn't been Mouhon, it has been Terrell Hartsfield.

Andy Lyons

The crazy thing about the season that Terrell Hartsfield is having is that no one, and I mean no one is talking about it. Which is crazy because he is going something that hasn't been done by a Bearcat in a long time. This year he has 8 sacks in 9 games and has registered at least half a sack in all but one game. His five straight games with a sack to his name is a school record*

* UC's football records are notoriously wonky beyond the Tony Mason era, but sacks as a distinct statistical entity didn't really exist before then. For that reason I feel confident in declaring Hartsfield's 5 game sack streak a school record.

The guys who have posted double digit sacks at UC have usually gotten their sacks in bunches, Connor Barwin is a perfect example. He posted 11 sacks during the 2008 season, but he had four times as many zero sack games (8) as he had one sack games (2). Connor Barwin got to 11 by having four multi sack games, including three big sacks of Bill Stull. That is more typical of a big season than what's Hartsfield is doing, and no one saw this coming.

How could you have seen this coming? Hartsfield was a part time starter in 2013, splitting his time and his starts almost equally with Brad Harrah. He totaled 1.5 sacks and 4 tackles for loss for the season, totals he blew past in 2 and 5 games respectively this year.

Hartsfield hasn't just become the best and most consistent defensive end on the Bearcats team, he is by far the most productive and efficient defensive end in the conference. Consider this, his eight sacks leads the AAC, the next group includes Tulsa's Derrick Alexander, Temple's Praise Martin-Oguike and Memphis's Tank Jakes. Jakes, as a linebacker is excluded from the discussion for obvious reasons. At this rate Hartsfield is basically a lock to land on one of the all conference teams. If Hartsfield blows up against the porous offensive lines of UConn (28 sacks allowed, 9.3% sack rate*), or Houston (23 sacks allowed, 6.5% sack rate) he could very well set the single season sack record. At this point in the year the high level of play from Hartsfield is no longer a secret; UConn, Temple and Houston will do their best to minimize his impact on the game.

* The percentage of drop backs that result in a sack, calculated as follows (sacks/(sacks+pass attempts)). It is a flawed measure to be sure (it doesn't account for drop backs that become runs with positive gains), but it gives a clearer picture of the overall pressure generated by a defense. Generally a sack rate under 5 percent is good under 3 percent is exceptional. Current national sacks allowed leader (non option division) New Mexico State sports an absurd 1.5 percent sack rate. On the flip side Utah is sacking opposing quarterbacks on roughly 1 out of every 10 drop backs, 11.4 percent to be exact.