Crouching Tiger, Hidden Pass Rush
By Matt LaPan
When the 2013 college football season kicks off in a little more than two months, the Memphis Tigers likely will not be competing for a high ranking. The program will be looking to record its first winning season since 2007. That's not the type of team that usually draws the eye of many football fans or evaluators.
This would be a mistake for the 2013 season for many reasons, the main one being defensive end Martin Ifedi. Ifedi is a redshirt junior, who has quietly made a name for himself in Memphis and will look to bring his pass rush prowess to The American (the new name for the American Athletic Conference).
Ifedi is a bit undersized for a true defensive end, but in his role as a pure pass rusher his 6-foot 3, 260-pound frame is ideal. Ifedi has great burst off the line of scrimmage, even though he played the 2012 season with a bad ankle. Ifedi also has shown very well-developed pass rush moves, excelling with his swim move. He finished 2012 with 7.5 sacks.
Ifedi has fantastic leg drive and displays very good power. This power allows him to have a very good bull rush against opposing offensive tackles. Ifedi also uses his long arms and quick, powerful hand strike to help him gain an advantage in the pass rush.
What was most impressive about Ifedi last season was his motor. Ifedi often ran down opposing quarterbacks and running backs from behind, even if he was initially blocked. He shows the "never quit" attitude that coaches look for, finishing almost every play around the ball.
Although Ifedi is quite adept in the pass rush game, he often finds himself overpowered in the run game. It often appears that he looks to use his speed to shed blocks rather than his power to take on opposing linemen. That is one of the only negatives one can find in his game, however.
So, even if the Tigers are not the most exciting team in the country to watch this season, they could have one of the most exciting pass rushers for fans to tune in to.