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Cardinal Senior Send Off: Defense

This is the second of a 2 part series evaluating the losses to graduation that Ball State will face before we get to the incoming players and prospects in our Cardinal Recruiting Series beginning next week. Thanks for your blood, sweat, and tears gentlemen. It’s truly appreciated. The next unit up? The defense.

Name: Spain Cosby
Number: 48
Position: MLB
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 222
Career Stats: 47 games, 1 start. 73tkls, 4.5 TFL, 2 forced fumbles, played in all but 4 games throughout his career.
Replaceability: While Spain Cosby was not the standout defensive playmaker that would have generated attention and headlines, he was a very solid player for this Cardinal defense, as well as having the unenviable task of switching to a totally new format in his senior season.

Name: Brandon Crawford
Number: 90
Position: DE
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 260
Career Stats: 49 games, 39 starts. 138 tkls, 37.5 TFL, 9 forced fumbles, 15 sacks.
Replaceability: Arguably the Cardinals’ biggest loss on the defensive side of the football, Brandon Crawford was not only a very talented player and defensive standout, he was also a great story. The definition of non-traditional college student, Crawford was a leader on and off the field for the Cardinals, a trait that will be sorely missed next season in addition to his on-field prowess and success.

Name: Drew Duffin
Number: 65
Position: DT
Height: 6’3″
Weight: 266
Career Stats: 48 games played, 23 starts. 129 tkls, 14.5 TFL, 1 forced fumble, 2.5 sacks
Replaceability: As a defensive tackle, Drew Duffin used his agility, speed, and power to his advantage, wreaking havoc in the backfield and on opposing offenses. Duffin was also a sure tackler, seldom letting a back get past his first contact. Duffin, while not as celebrated as Crawford, will be missed on this defensive unit next season.

Name: Alex Knipp
Number: 38
Position: FS
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 200
Career Stats: 51 games played, 37 starts. 293 tkls, 6.0 TFL, 1 sack, 9 INTs, 23 pass deflections, 2 forced fumbles.
Replaceability: Knipp comprised half of arguably the best defensive safety corps in the MidAmerican Conference. Potentially the second most important loss after Crawford, Knipp takes with him not only a wealth of experience, but also strong leadership, and pass defense acumen, an area that the Cardinals struggled a bit in this past year.

Name: Kyle Kuntz
Number: 9
Position: FS
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 197
Career Stats: 46 games, 1 start. 37 tkls, 1 fumble recovery.
Replaceability: Another role player for the Cardinals, or someone capable of filling in when needed for either a breather for the starter or an extra defensive back, Kuntz made the most of his limited opportunities in Cardinal and White. Kuntz was used sparingly in his first three seasons, though did manage special teams appearances in his junior season. Kuntz also picked perhaps the biggest stage of the year for his coming out party as his first career start was in 2009 at Auburn.

Name: Sam Woodworth
Number: 55
Position: LB
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 215
Career Stats: 38 games, 4 starts. 88 tkls, 4.5 TFL, 2 sacks
Replaceability: Another example of being needed when called on and filling in where needed is Sam Woodworth. Throughout his career at BSU, he was used sparingly and in spot relief, but Woodworth rarely disappointed and gave the BSU defense a viable and serviceable second option for the linebacking unit, a unit that in 2009 was in desperate need of help from anyone able.

Defensive Recap
Players Lost: 6
Staters Lost: 3

While the defensive unit by number alone didn’t suffer overwhelming losses, it was more about who they lost rather than the quantity. Not only did the defensive unit lose stalwarts like Crawford or Duffin, or shut down coverage guys like Knipp and Kuntz, they also lost the most serviceable backups and spot relievers. The good news is as younger players begin to fill their roles and roster spots, they are players who have more experience in addition to yet another spring with this staff and this scheme.

In terms of recruiting, an overwhelming majority of the Cardinals’ 19 commitments are defensive players, and if Stan and staff have shown anything, it’s that they are not opposed to putting green players in to see how they respond.

Going forward for the Cardinals, the defensive intensity of the Hoke years need to be matched with the hopeful familiarity and expertise with this new defensive system and scheme. The transition to the 4-3 from the previously installed Hokian 3-4 took its toll on defensive production this season, but 2010 may very well show a refocused and recommitted defensive unit to match the optimistic outlooks for the offense.


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