What if…………………. Hypothetically we were to evaluate two veteran Wildcat defensive linemen as if 2017 was their first year in Lexington? Sound fun? Ok, maybe not but we’re going there anyway. I’d like to introduce you to the fictitious senior grad-transfer nose tackle Matt Elam and fellow mythical transfer defensive tackle Tymere Dubose. Natural reaction for fan bases and media types is for the new to have higher expectancy than the current. For example, the backup quarterback is normally the most popular player on the team.
Back to reality. Elam and Dubose have been given numerous chances to improve upon what can only be described as unspectacular careers. Results have been unfulfilled but there is still time left on the clock.
There is no mystery that the UK defensive line is a conspicuous area of concern going into fall camp. Matt Elam and Tymere Dubose are not figured into the projective rotational equation by a portion of the concerned BBN. But what if they not only received a high number of snaps, but played an extremely high level? What if…..
If Elam and Dubose “Get it” the defensive line would be presented with an new optimistic outlook for 2017. What does “get it” mean exactly? In the case of aforementioned Wildcats, “it” refers to responsibility in preparation and displaying a consistent, high-level passion for the game of football that leads to positive results both on and off the field. This fresh viewpoint could be a positive kick in the rear-end. Lord knows both have been frequent focal points of negative critiques. Now, let’s take a look at Elam and Dubose individually:
The 6’7, 360-pound nose tackle has taken a pounding by the media this summer. The SEC Network’s Greg McElroy called out the senior during SEC Media Days. Right, wrong, or indifferent; McElroy owned his statements. His words have acted as a lightning rod for internal team motivation and provided message boards with ample fodder to fulfill the Dog Days before fall camp. The true question remains. Will July’s derogatory rhetoric prompt positive, on-field results for Matt Elam. He said all the right things on Media Day. But camp and the discomfort of the grind are just starting. We’ll need to re-address motivation in two weeks.
This is where I cross the line of media impartiality. I openly admit that I’m pulling for Matt Elam to prove doubters wrong. I was standing ten feet from McElroy’s when he made those comments. I became a protector instead of an investigative reporter. I can type, say, and mumble that “It’s not personal, it’s personnel” all day long but at times I struggle with objectivity when covering the University of Kentucky.
Elam Three-Year Statistics
2014: 10 tackles, 2 pass breakups
2015: 23 tackles, .5 TFL
2016: 9 tackles
Mark Stoops on Matt Elam
Question- Has offseason criticism motivated Matt Elam?
MARK STOOPS: “I’ve seen some good things from Matt. Again, whatever motivates somebody, I don’t think it’s right to personally come after Matt as I mentioned before, we know we need to improve across the board at defensive line and again in all areas of your program, starting with me on down. We all want to do a better job every day. Matt’s no different and he has worked hard and I think that losing some weight and getting in great shape is a big piece of that. He’s working at it right now.”
The argument that nose tackle’s solitary job is to eat up blockers in order to free up linebackers is an overused excuse when describing defensive linemen that fail to make across the line-of-scrimmage plays. Yes, occupying a gap is A job, but not the position’s exclusive responsibility. Above are Elam’s numbers from 36 games and nine starts.
See Naquez Pringle’s 2016 statistics from the same position in only five starts and 13 games: 39 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 QB sack. Again, I’m not pitting Pringle vs. Elam nor am I piling on Matt. My contention is what if he actually does “get it” and plays like the star prospect that chose Kentucky over Alabama. An improved Elam’s presence along the line-of-scrimmage would automatically increase Matt House’s run and red-zone defense and present opposing offensive coordinators with a headache of preparing for two nose tackles with the capability to push the pile and disrupt in the passing game.
Wipe the slate clean, start anew.
If we’re evaluating Matt Elam as a grad-transfer, then we’ll treat Dubose as a first year transfer with two years of remaining eligibility. I was extremely high on him as a key part of the highly celebrated Class of 2014. Dubose hails from Youngstown, Ohio and was a two-sport star at Youngstown Christian High School. At 6’5, 320-pounds, the junior has all the athletic talents and traits to become a high functioning defensive lineman.
However, Dubose has struggled on and off the field. He was involved in multiple incidents throughout his short stay in Lexington. Mark Stoops was forced to intervene and keep him out of spring practice in order to focus on academics and other matters. Apparently, all is now well.
Tymere Dubose has owned a golden ticket since his arrival to campus but has failed to cash it in by lacking the necessary comportments that translate into an accountable football player to his teammates and coaches. Starting fresh, new beginning.
That’s the bad, now let’s focus on the good since our fictional Dubose has just arrived to campus and is ready to contribute. Visualize the quality of depth, explosion, and punch he could provide new defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc. Dubose is big and talented enough to play all three positions along the defensive line. That versatility, rapid burst, and lateral movement are tools that equal a defensive lineman that could force QB disturbance, increase TFL’s and pass breakups. I truly believe that IF he gets it, here we go again with “get it”, Tymere Dubose could have an influential impact on the Wildcat’s Win/Loss column.
Dubose Two-Year Production
2015: Played in 4 games, registered 1 tackle.
2016: Played in 11 games, had 6 tackles.
Mark Stoops on Tymere Dubose
Q. Tymere Dubose missed spring practice. What is the status on him?
MARK STOOPS: “Tymere is good. So that was a decision that I made to remove him from the team for the spring because he needed to get focused, and he needed to put all of his attention on academics. I’m proud to say that he did that. So we’re finishing this last summer class right now, but he’s put a lot of work in and he’s done a lot of good things. So, hopefully, he’ll mature in all areas of his life and come out here and have a good camp and get back out there on the field.”
I’ve been tough on Tymere Dubose only because I see so, so much potential in his game. There are very few individuals with his size, arm length, and athleticism on this planet. Much like with Elam, I’m crossing the objective media line here and wanting to see his immense potential filled.
This post is somewhat silly but I’d like to again pose this serious question; what if Dubose and Elam have career seasons? How many additional wins would that mean for the Cats? The team, coaches, fans, and former players need Elam and Dubose to be at their best in 2017.