Earlier in the Spring football season we examined the middle of Chadron State’s defense and how it planned to replace some extremely talented linebackers that are graduating. The supporting cast behind the linebacking unit is coming back strong to help the Eagles try to improve its #5 ranking in RMAC total defense from last fall, and maintain its dominance against receivers downfield.
Now that Spring ball is wrapped up, the nest of ballhawks and intimidators led by potential All-RMAC safety Ryan Wood are rearing to go for real in the fall. We caught up with the senior-to-be during Saturday’s Spring game and it’s no surprise that he’s ready to get after it during the opening week in September.
Wood is hungry for another season of fierce hits and stalking receivers who head his direction looking for catches on Saturdays in the fall. Coming off a year with 87 tackles and five for lost yards, he’s been part of an active defense in the Spring that’s forcing turnovers across every inch of the field, but also a defense that knows it needs to improve in the second half of games.
Ryan will be joined by his brother Brian again in the defensive backfield, and the pair will both be playing safety now that Brian and his seven pass break-ups and two interceptions from 2015 have been moved over from corner.
The Wood brothers can take their experience and confidence into helping a younger DB group develop and play with a similar swagger. True sophomore DeAndre Barthwell is back and redshirt sophomore Kirk Durtsche will be back after missing spring camp practice time with an injury. Barthwell came on mid-season and Durtsche was critical to the pass defense, which ranked #2 in the conference last year at 205 yards allowed per game. Junior corner Tre’ Mosley returns, senior Steven Allen has been talked about as having a good Spring camp and the veteran pair can help bring along redshirt freshmen Demetrius McFadden and Jason Blair.
Ryan Wood talked about how he’s planning to lead the group of young pups in the secondary.
When fall camp rolls around the group is determined to dominate and will have a good opening exam against the Fort Lewis Skyhawks who bring back the bulk of its receiving threats to Elliott Field on September 3.