Football notebook: Defense showing positive signs

Kyle Williams

The WKU defense returns a good majority of its starters from last year with the exception of the entire defensive line, and according to defensive coordinator Nick Holt, it has the chance to be impressive barring any setbacks or injuries.

Holt said after the third day of Fall Camp that the defense has a tough road ahead of it, but the starters are showing signs of optimism early on.

“The first group, they look obviously way ahead of all the other guys,” Holt said. “Overall though, after the first three days I think we’re getting better.

“We have a long, long way to go. I like our tempo. We’re learning how to practice. That’s an ongoing situation, but we are getting better… right now we’re pretty pleased on our progress.”

Defensive lineman fighting for playing time

WKU will be looking to retool its defensive line this season due to the loss of the entire defensive line, including the 146th overall pick in the NFL Draft, Quanterus Smith.

Holt said the defensive line is still an area of concern for the Toppers.

“If we stay healthy, knock on wood, I think we could be pretty good,” Holt said. “We just have to find a good D-line rotation. I think that’s where the question mark is, but I think there’s some bodies there.”

Holt said sophomore lineman Gavin Rocker, who missed the spring game due to an injury, is one that stands out to him so far.

Rocker said it’s a battle fighting for a starting job.

“Everybody’s fighting,” Rocker said. “Depth-wise we’re looking pretty good. Right now we’re separating the practices, so we’re not getting as much of a break, but I think we’ll be fine.”

Rocker coming back strong from injury

Holt said Rocker has jumped out in terms of his production on the defensive front through the first three days of camp.

Although Holt went on to say positions would be filled as the team began scrimmaging, Rocker seems to be a shoe-in for the job despite coming off an injury keeping him from playing in the spring game.

Rocker said he’s still working out the kinks of being back.

“I feel 100 percent,” Rocker said. “I just have to get back in the groove of things. Making sure my fundamentals are right, technique is right, but as far as pain or anything I’m fine.”

Rocker went on to say that the Toppers have the potential to be solid defensively despite having an inexperienced defensive line.

 “We have a chance to be really good,” Rocker said. “We have a lot of people coming back. Only the new people are on the defensive line. We should be fine.”