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Season in Review: Marquise Copeland

Who wore No. 44 and was the Bearcats’ best defensive lineman in 2017? This guy.

Cincinnati v Michigan Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Numbers

  • 63 tackles
  • 8.0 TFL
  • 3.5 sacks

You may not think to call Marquise Copeland’s 2017 season a breakout one, but that’s just what it was. While his 63 tackles were only four more than he had last year, his work on the defensive line was finer than any done by the rest of the Cincinnati Bearcats. That was why the 290-pound defensive end from Cleveland earned an honorable mention nod in the American Athletic Conference postseason awards.

Copeland was the best pass rusher on the roster, which wasn’t a hard bar to clear, but one that Copeland got over all the same. He tallied 3.5 sacks, which was more than last year’s leader, Eric Wilson, who had an even three. Copeland also had a total of eight tackles for loss, which ranked second on the team and made him one of three Bearcats with more than five. Perry Young (nine) and Kevin Mouhon (seven) were the others.

One aspect of Copeland’s game that may have gone unnoticed was his improvements on finishing tackles. While his 63 total tackles didn’t obliterate his previous personal-best, the makeup of that total was vastly different than a year ago. With 31 solo stops, Copeland had a 13-tackle improvement.

If you want to make up a negative narrative, you could point to the fact that he did not force any fumbles after doing so twice a year ago. However, if that’s the hill you want to die on, then you should reevaluate things, especially since turnovers are much more difficult to control than sacks and tackles.

The Best of the Best

Sept. 16 at Miami (Ohio)

I would imagine the RedHawks never want to see Copeland again. Unfortunately for them, they will. If Copeland has another three tackles for loss (and a sack!), the Bearcats will have an easier time winning the Victory Bell.

Oct. 21 vs. SMU

Copeland only had one tackle for loss against the Mustangs, but it was his second sack of the season. He also had five total tackles.

Nov. 10 vs. Temple

With another two tackles for loss and a sack, Copeland made a major impact on this one.

Nov. 25 vs. UConn

A measly half sack isn’t what made this game stand out. Instead, it was the career-high 10 tackles Copeland acquired.

For Next Year

We’ve harped on the Bearcats a lot for not forming a strong enough pass rush. While Copeland’s 3.5 sacks were not good enough to challenge for the most in the American Athletic Conference, it was at least a step in the right direction. Copeland is an excellent defensive lineman that just needs to keep doing what he’s been doing. That’s not a big ask and means anything above that base line should push him into the all-AAC discussion.