By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
For the Elon football team, the options on defense, particularly among linemen and linebackers, might be the key to much of the team’s success.
The No. 14 Phoenix can count on defenders who often come in waves – one after another.
“We can all rotate,” said defensive tackle Marvion Field. “The first group or the second group, you don’t lose pace. They all work no matter what combination is out there.”
Elon (5-1 overall, 3-0 Colonial Athletic Association) tries to keep that going in Saturday’s game at No. 25 Rhode Island (3-2, 1-1).
The depth on defense is something that helped compensate for the absence of defensive end Torrence Williams, a redshirt senior out of Williams High School and the most experienced player on the Elon defensive front. He missed the 27-10 victory last Saturday against Towson because of an injury.
For a full report on the Towson game, look here: https://alamancenews.com/elon-rolls-again-fifth-straight-week-this-time-over-towson-27-10/
The leading tackler in that game turned out to be strong safety Bo Sanders.
“Anyone came make a play,” Sanders said. “Whoever is in, is going to do their job.”
With Omar Rogers back in the mix last week in the defensive backfield after missing the three games because of an injury, the Phoenix could be getting stronger in the back end. With players on and off the field, they realize they must perform at a high level to keep their spots in the pecking order.
“It’s healthy competition, but it brings everybody up,” Sanders said.
Yet it’s up front, where as many as 10 players might be used, that the depth is most evident. True freshman Chuck Nnaeto had a bigger role in the Towson game with Williams out of the lineup.
“It has been real important,” coach Tony Trisciani said. “We just roll guys through. It has also helped us later in the game. Because of the rotation, we have guys in there who are fresh and hungry.”
Elon hasn’t allowed a second-half touchdown since its opener at Vanderbilt.
Field said if Williams returns to action that’s another bonus for the defense.
“His presence is big,” Field said. “Playing beside him makes the game easier because you know he’s going to do his job to the point where he’s going to do it at a high level.”
Recently, some defensive success has come by forcing turnovers. Elon has two takeaways per game.
“Just keep getting the ball out (to force turnovers), guys pursuing with optimism on defense and playing hard,” Trisciani said. “It was awesome to see.”
For Elon’s defenders, they’re fine with any responsibility that comes their way.
“If it has to be the defense to step up and get the stop so the offense can get another chance, that’s what we do,” Sanders said. “We’re trying to deliver.”