Things I Learned About … The Linebackers

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Al Groh’s LB corps had a solid year on the field.

I will always have a particular and peculiar connection to linebackers. Something about the position just appeals to me. Maybe it is because the position can bring so much to the defense. Maybe it is because each of my sons seems to play that position.

Maybe it is some kind of cosmic connection based on the fact that I am a Bears fan, and the Bears are and have been a linebacker team from Bill George to Dick Butkus to Mike Singletary to Brian Urlacher (expect this to be the first of many – yes, many – Chicago Bears references in this article. Colts fans can feel free to stop reading now, if need be).

There was no Urlacher on the field for the Hoos this year (Bears reference #2 – maybe someone will turn this into a drinking game, in the grand Hoo tradition), but you had to like the unit we rolled onto the field. Not the most physically gifted set of linebackers Groh has had, but a group that worked hard and generally – not always, but generally – played well.

Perhaps more importantly, I liked how the linebackers generally were used this year. If you wanted to get a clear sense of the changes afoot under defensive coordinator Mike London this year, all you had to do was watch the linebackers.

Four Lunch Pail Kind Of Guys. Clint Sintim , Antonio Appleby , Jon Copper, and Jermaine Dias . Top to bottom, not a single one of them can hold a candle to Ahmad Brooks in terms of raw athleticism. All four, in fact, have significant physical limitations. We certainly are not talking about four guys that are going to range sideline-to-sideline like Lance Briggs.

But simply put, the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.

Each of the four plays hard. Each of the four takes pride in their play on the field. Each of the four knows the scheme.