It’s almost September, and you know what that means?
Tailgates, tanlines and touchdowns! What more could a college football fan want?
As the season approaches, the next installment of our position group previews is the defensive line.
The defensive line is headed by coach Derrick LeBlanc. The headline players are late-season bloomer, Quinton Bohanna as well as Adrian Middleton and the very talented Josh Paschal. With these three guys up front I don’t expect many people to be able to have much time to sit in the pocket and throw the ball.
Josh Paschal (Sophomore OLB/DE) – The 6-3, 280-pound sophomore is coming off of a great true freshman season for the Cats. In 2017 Paschal was able to grab 18 tackles, 3.5 of those tackles being sacks for the athletic defensive lineman. When you see Paschal on the edge, it’s hard to stop him. He’s quick, he’s strong and he’s more athletic than most people across from him.
Paschal was a four-star prospect according to 247 Sports in 2017. Last year, as well as the spring game, he showed exactly what he was made of. Paschal had a truly surprising freshman year.
But on Friday, Aug. 3rd, Mark Stoops announced Josh Paschal had melanoma on his foot. Football aside, all prayers are with him and his family. There is no word of when he will play again as of yet.
Quinton Bohanna (Sophomore NT) – The 6-4, 320-pound Tennessee native had a breakout 2017 freshman season for Kentucky. As a true freshman Bohanna played in 12 of the 13 games for the Cats, while starting the last five at nose guard. It’s one thing to start as a freshman in college football, but it’s another to start on the defensive line in the trenches against SEC teams.
Bohanna was able to grab only 14 tackles last season, but I plan on that number going up this year. Bohanna has gotten a lot stronger, and a lot quicker for the 2018 season, and most people saw that in the 2018 spring game. I definitely feel stronger about the defense, there’s no doubt.” Said Coach Mark Stoops after the spring game, when talking about the defensive line, led by Bohanna and Paschal.
Adrian Middleton (Senior DT) – The 6’3 298-pound senior is coming off a good 2017 season, but I think 2018 will be a lot better. The Bowling Green, KY native was able to grab 25 tackles last season and three of those tackles, were tackles-for-loss.
Middleton has really been a starter since his sophomore season in 2016, but his biggest season was in 2016 when he had his coming out game against No. 11 Louisville. Middleton recorded a career-high six tackles against the Cardinals, and one of those was a tackle for loss. The Bowling Green native has had his ups and downs as a Wildcat thus far, but in the spring game he looked like he had lost a little weight and gained a lot of speed on the interior line. He looks like he is moving a lot easier and he is a lot quicker off the ball. I expect Middleton will have an even bigger year this year, and the Cats will need him to be better if they are going to win ball games.
Of course, there will be more guys on the defensive line that will help the Cats pull in some big wins, like T.J. Carter and senior, Tymere Dubose. All of these guys will be playing a lot for Kentucky this season. Mark Stoops said it himself, that UK will need more depth than they ever have had this season. That’s how you win in the SEC. If Derrick LeBlanc and Matt House can get these guys going, you can expect the D-line to have a big season this year.