First line of defense


The Miner starting defensive line, left to right: Jimmy Barnhart, Josip Juric, Freddy Dugard and Eddie Rascon. Photo by B.A. Rupert

Missouri S&T’s defensive line doesn’t have a catchy nickname, like the “Steel Curtain” or the “Fearsome Foursome.” At least not yet.

 Head football coach David Brown does call the unit “Ozark Swarm,” because the scheme it runs is similar to the one run by the University of Arizona in the late 1990s, which it called “Desert Swarm.” It’s one that’s built for speed, and the Miners have plenty of speed along their front four.

“Our defensive scheme is unique — only a handful of teams in the country run it,” says junior defensive end Freddy Dugard. “It is a defense built mainly for athletes with various abilities as opposed to a defense that requires specific position players.

“I’m not the tallest, strongest or fastest player on the field, but with our defensive scheme I fit perfectly for the flexible athletic need,” says Dugard.

Where the Miners excel this season is in their ability to get to the quarterback and disrupt opposing offenses. S&T’s defense is currently ranked second in NCAA Division II in quarterback sacks and is among the top 15 teams in the nation in total defense. It all starts with the work of the first four players opponents encounter at the line of scrimmage.

Dugard, fellow juniors Eddie Rascon and Jimmy Barnhart, and sophomore Josip Juric make up the starting group up front, while senior Quinton Robinson, sophomores Daleroy Davey, Geoff Correnti and Dan Mauszycki, and freshman Steve Martin all have had a hand in the success of the defensive line this season.

That group is also aided by the flex linebackers — seniors Jordan Pulou and Ryan Morse, along with sophomores Jon Vance and Zach Melber — who play defensive tackles against the run and linebackers when opposing teams throw the ball.

The Miners are well on pace to break the record of 38 quarterback sacks set in 1983, with the majority coming from defensive linemen. Also, in part due to the work of the front four, the Miners as a team currently rank near the top of NCAA Division II for interceptions.

“The pressure created by our front is a big factor in the number of interceptions that we have tallied,” says Brown.

“Coach Brown always says it’s all about us, no matter what the other team is doing. If we execute our assignments, we can beat anybody,” says Rascon, whose 10 sacks are tied for the 10th-best mark in NCAA Division II on an individual basis. “The emphasis on assignments at each position and the execution of each player’s assignment is always a key focus.”

Read more here.

by John Kean
Meet the Miners football team.