Fresno State's Dontel James is stopped by Toledo defenders, from left, Jeremi Powell, Tuzar Skipper, Earl Moore, and Zach Quinn. BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
University of Toledo defensive coordinator Brian George knows his job is made easier when his front four can get after an opposing quarterback.
“It’s huge, because it is a lot easier to call defense when you can get pressure with the four-man rush,” George said. “At times, we have been able to do that over the past year and these two games, and at times, we haven’t. I think we were a little bit up and down [against Nevada]. I think we need to continue to work on it.”
With talented defensive ends in junior Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and senior Tuzar Skipper, the Rockets have been able to get some more pressure against Elon and Nevada.
“I do think some guys are really coming along,” George said. “I think Tuzar had some really good pass rushes, I think Ola [had] some really good ones in the [Nevada] game. We have to continue to develop that part of our game. Each week is a little bit different in college football. Some weeks you are going to be called upon to get on the edge and rush the passer. Other weeks, you have to do a better job of containing the quarterback and keeping him in the pocket.”
Skipper said with him and Adeniyi anchoring the edges of the line, it opens up things for the entire defense.
“That’s my man right there,” Skipper said. “I love Ola. He makes a lot of things easier on that side of the ball, and I make a lot of things easier on my side of the ball. We are just here to help out the team and whatever we need to do, we do it. If that’s special teams or whatever, anything that is going to get the win for the team, that is what we do.”
Against Nevada, Skipper sacked quarterback Ty Gangi and forced a fumble Nate Childress recovered. Then on the next possession, Adeniyi hit Gangi’s hand as it was moving forward to throw. The pass fluttered right into linebacker Ja’Wuan Woodley’s hands for an interception.
“It was a great feeling,” Adeniyi said of the interception he forced. “It was a play-action pass, and I just kind of flipped my ears back and got to the quarterback and thank God Ja’Wuan Woodley was there to get the ball.”
So far this season, Adeniyi has 10 tackles, with two tackles for loss, and Skipper has eight tackles, one tackle for loss and a sack.
The defensive end duo continues to make plays, and George highlighted the two turnovers as plays that change the complexion of a game.
“Those are huge plays,” George said. “That was really a turning point in the game for us defensively. They had gotten the ball and scored on two straight possessions and our offense had put us in position where we had a two-score lead. We needed to make a couple stops in the fourth quarter to seal the victory for us. Anytime you can steal a possession from the other team with a takeaway, that makes a big difference in the game.”