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Projecting the Depth Chart: Defensive Line

There is clarity at defensive tackle but the edges remain a bit of a mystery.

Photo by Andrew Higley/University of Cincinnati

Figuring out the best group of guys to plug into the defensive line may just be the most important puzzle Tommy Tuberville and his staff need to solve in order for the Cincinnati Bearcats to return to contention in 2016. Here’s a look at how the rotation may look.

Definite Starters

Alex Pace, DT

The senior leader for this group, Pace started in 12 games in 2015 and should be making another dozen or so starts in 2016. The 6’2", 295-pound interior lineman has not recorded a sack in 27 total games. Perhaps a new-look defensive staff and adjusted defensive strategy will lead him to his first (and hopefully more).

Cortez Broughton, DT

Like Pace, Broughton is the assumed starter based on his frequent insertion into the starting lineup in 2015. An 11-game starter last season, Broughton is a strong tackler but needs to be better up front to help UC improve against the run. Otherwise, Broughton and Pace’s experience doesn’t mean all that much.

Position Battles

While the inside of the line is a certainty, the outside is much more wide open. Without Silverberry Mouhon, there is no clear-cut lead edge rusher, which means players from up and down the roster will get a shot. Mark Wilson, Landon Brazile, Kimoni Fitz, Marquise Copeland, as well as linebacker Kevin Mouhon and maybe even some of the new recruits will be in the running for playing time. Wilson had a pair of sacks last season and played in 12 games, making five starts. He probably has a leg up for one of the starting gigs, but Fitz and Brazile both looked good in the spring, with each recording a sack in the spring game. Mouhon was even more impressive, tallying three sacks.

While Pace and Broughton likely have the starting defensive tackle posts locked up, Sione Tongamoa flashed some brilliance in 2015, recording three sacks, the second-most on the team. It would be interesting to see if Tongamoa gets a chance to play elsewhere on the line or is just used as part of a revolving trio on the inside.

Final Projection

First Team

Alex Pace, DT

Cortez Broughton, DT

Mark Wilson, DE

Kimoni Fitz, DE

Kevin Mouhon may very well officially be classified as a defensive end by the end of the summer or season, but for now, Wilson and Fitz make the most sense based on experience. However, since UC needs so much help in rushing the passer, making some big changes wouldn’t be the worst idea.

Second Team

Sione Tongamoa, DT

Norman Oglesby, DT

Marquise Copeland, DE

Landon Brazile, DE

Tongamoa would be a starter if it weren’t for the two guys ahead of him, so there’s no way he isn’t the first reserve to come in every week. Oglesby will be fighting hard with elder statesmen Hakeem Allonce and Chris Burton, but the flash of pass-rushing ability he showed last season could cause Tuberville and company to give him more playing time.

Brazile played in five games last season as a redshirt sophomore. He will push Fitz quite a bit as will Copeland, who played in nine games last season and recorded 15 tackles, including one for loss. The former three-star recruit is entering his sophomore season and it may be prudent to get him more game action sooner rather than later.