UConn NGs Julian Campenni and Mikal Myers aren't the prototypes in a 3-4 defensive system.
The nose should be big and massive and eat up space. At 5-11 and 6-1, Campenni and Myers the duo doesn't have ideal height or girth.
That doesn't make the duo any less effective. What Campenni and Myers lose in height they make up in other areas, including a low base that allows them to play bigger and strong than their size.
The result are a pair of anchors on the defensive line that makes the unit one of the strengths of the Huskies coming into camp. UConn's defensive line, which went to a predominantly 3-4 front last year under Bob Diaco, and returns it's entire rotation led by Campenni.
Campenni, 5-10, 301-pounds, is one of the top linemen in the American and while small in stature, possess a low center of gravity and tremendous strength that makes him tough to move. He notched 35 tackles, 5.5 TFLs from the nose guard position while splitting time with Myers. Myers, 6-1, 326-pounds, continues to be difficult to move out of the middle as he takes on blockers freeing up the linebackers to make plays. Myers had 30 tackles, 6 TFLs and 2 sacks. The combined production from the duo of 65 tackles, 11.5 TFLs and 4.5 sacks is excellent for the position and should be better. The Huskies also have Sean Marinan, a walk-on from Xavier, and highly-toted Kevin Murphy (6-2, 277) coming in from West Chester, Pennsylvania to play the nose as well as New Jersey product Felton Blackwell (6-2, 323).
The Huskies also have depth and talent at the tackles. Folorunso Fatukasi became a force for the Huskies at DE last year and ay 6-4, 298-pounds has three years of eligibility remaining. He has size and power with 31 tackles in three starts. On the other side, senior Kenton Adeyemi (6-4, 287) is back as a solid run stopper and part-time player. the backups are where the Huskies hope to get a pass rush. Cole Ormsby, who led UConn with 3.5 sacks last year and is a natural pass rusher, returns for his sophomore season and will see plenty of time in pass rushing situations. Sheriden Lawley came out of the spring of his freshman year and also figures to be a part of the rotation.
The unit remains solid with talented young players coming in including Fatukasi, Ormsby and Lawley all with three years or more eligibility remaining. UConn is also very high on true frosh Philippe Okounam, who at 6-5, 265-pounds already has good size for a 3-4 end.
The line isn't required to generate a ton of pressure by itself by design. The goal is to control the line of scrimmage and allow the linebacker corps to make plays, and with Campenni and Myers leading the point of that defense have an excellent base to work with. The next step will be getting to the quarterback more out of the base defense with Ormsby particularly adept with his speed and footwork to attack the passer. Fatukasi remains one of the better young players in the American and is due for a big year after showing signs late last sign of high-level play.
UConn was ranked 49th nationally in total defense last season and that is with major breakdowns and struggles with learning the news system. The unit should be improved in 2015 with the defensive line a strength going in.