The Rams are in week three of the spring practice season and things have really picked up. The players are getting better acclimated to new systems and the coaches are getting to know the players better as the squad looks ahead to the 2012 Spring Game on Saturday, April 28th.
Wednesday was the final practice before a five-day Easter Break for the Rams, both from practice and classes. But that didn't mean that the team pulled back on the reins as the gridders went through the paces at breakneck speed on Murphy Field.
"It was a good day," said head coach Joe Moorhead to his charges following practice. "The defense had three takeaways, which is what we're looking for, and the offense moved the ball. Every day we're looking to make ourselves a better football team. We should never accept mediocrity."
Last week we took a look at the Fordham offense, this week it's the defense, a unit that returns seven starters, including four of the top five tacklers, and ranked third in the Patriot League in passing defense last year. But Moorhead will look for the squad to improve on their rushing defense as well as to increase the number of takeaways as the Rams managed just 13 last fall.
The Rams will have to replace two starters on the defensive line but that task could be made easier by the return of Justin Yancey, who missed all but one game last year with an injury. In 2010, Yancey appeared in all eleven games as a freshman for the Rams, starting eight at nose guard. He led all freshmen and all defensive linemen with 41 total tackles, 28 solo, including a team-high 10.5 for loss and tied for third in the Patriot League in tackles for loss/game (0.95) and tied for 13th in sacks/game (0.27).
The returning starters on the defensive line are Patrick McGee, who returns for a fifth season after starting ten games at tackle in 2011, and Matthew Sconiers, who started the last four games of the year at defensive end. McGee recorded 20 total tackles last year, including two for loss and one sack, while Sconiers registered eleven.
Other returning players who will be seeing time on the defensive line include DeAndre Slate and John LaSure, who both played in all eleven games last year. Slate notched 23 total tackles, including 3.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks, while LaSure finished the season with nine stops. Both will be looking to move into the starting lineup this year.
The linebacking corps returns three of the four starters from 2011, led by Michael Martin, who topped the Rams with 94 total tackles, 51 solo, including three for loss and 1.5 sacks, as he started all eleven games for the Rams.
Jake Rodriques, who stepped in and contributed immediately as a freshman, also returns after ranking third on the team last fall with 69 total tackles, 44 solo, including five for loss and 1.5 sacks, as does Nick Womack, who started ten games last fall, recording 38 tackles, including six for loss and 3.5 sacks, both teams highs.
Fordham returns a plethora of experience in the defensive backfield, led by Brendan Melanophy, a two-year starter at free safety who made 53 stops last year, 35 solo, and broke up a pair of passes, and Ian Williams, who started ten games at cornerback last fall, compiling 54 total tackles, 41 solo, and breaking up a team-best eight passes while also intercepting two.
Melanophy and Williams will be joined in the defensive backfield by Vaughn Scott, who started the final eight games of 2011 and recorded 36 tackles, and Jake Dixon, who made six starts at free safety as a freshman last fall, notching 22 tackles.
Also joining the Fordham defensive backs this spring is Levon Williams, a transfer from Nassau Community College where he made 61 tackles and had two interceptions last fall.
Notes Following practice, Moorhead repeated his mantra to the team about how every practice is important in the build up to the 2012 season. "Every day we come out here and work we're making an investment, like putting money in the bank" he told the Rams. "That way, when the season comes around we'll have that savings to draw on which will make us stronger during the season." Moorhead made the speech next to the construction site for the new Gabelli School of Business where maybe he can serve as a guest lecturer next year... All three field goal kicker (Michael Marando, Patrick Murray and Kevin Levin) connected on field goal of more than 45 yards.