Bloomington, Ind. – Jammie Kirlew has seen the stat sheet.
Perhaps even studied it.
The Hoosiers’ 6-3, 257-pound sophomore-to-be defensive end totaled 27 tackles, five tackles for loss and seven starts as a redshirt freshman last fall, earning him Freshman All-Big Ten honors. It was a solid debut season for the Orlando, Fla., product.
“It went so fast last year,” Kirlew said. “When I look back, watch games on tape, I see the contributions I made, I feel I did a pretty good job. But there’s a lot of room for improvement.”
The area where Kirlew wants to make the biggest statistical jump is in getting after the quarterback. He is also well aware of the fact he finished the year with just 1 ½ sacks, a number that needs to improve dramatically as IU tries to do a better job of generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks with its front four.
“I saw my numbers (from last year), and I did a pretty good job of getting tackles, but I want to focus on my weaknesses and my sack numbers were low,” Kirlew said. “That’s the main thing I’m worried about – getting to the quarterback.”
It wasn’t just Kirlew that struggled in applying pressure to opposing signal callers. Indiana totaled just 14 sacks on the year, a total that ranked last in the Big Ten. By way of comparison, IU’s team total was only two more than the conference’s individual leader, Michigan defensive end LaMarr Woodley, who had 12 sacks. Kenny Kendal led the Hoosiers with four sacks, and he’s one of three defensive starters lost from last year’s squad due to graduation. That leaves no one on the IU roster who totaled more than two sacks in 2006.
Indiana’s inability to apply pressure contributed significantly to a pass defense that ranked eight in the conference in yardage (228.2 yards/game) and 11th in pass efficiency (155.9).
Kirlew is well aware of those facts and wants to do whatever he can to remedy it.
“That’s what coach has us doing – everything is pass first,” Kirlew said. “We’re going after the ball and trying to get sacks. If I’m not getting the sack, I want to get in the backfield and force a bad pass or cause corruption.”
Kirlew could be helped in that endeavor by two facts – added size and improved depth.
In the off-season Kirlew has spent plenty of time in the weight room in an effort to be able to present problems for opposing offensive tackles with his strength as well as his speed.
“He’s had a great off-season,” said IU defensive line coach Brian George. “Jammie has gotten stronger, he’s also spent a lot of time on the mental game. So he’s improved in a lot of areas, and we’re expecting big things out of him.”
Kirlew could also see his numbers go up thanks to less time on the field. Indiana should have one of its deeper crops of defensive lines in several years, with the likes of Brian Faires, Greg Brown, Joe Kremer, Keith Burrus, Emile Bass, Greg Middleton and Deonte Mack all potential contributors in a defensive line rotation this fall.
“We seem to have more that can play and get on the field,” Kirlew said. “If we can do that we’ll hav ea lot more rest, and we’ll be a lot more energized.
“Everyone on the d-line is good and has the potential to play. That’s going to cause us to be able to go out and be maniacs for however long we’re in there, because we have people that will come in and replace us and do the same thing.”