Mar 25, 2011, 7:30 AM EST
The seventh of twelve previews analyzing a dozen players essential to the Irish making a BCS run next season. For more, check the previews of Braxston Cave, Sean Cwynar, Jonas Gray, Trevor Robinson, Theo Riddick and Steve Filer.
It was two seasons ago when a young sophomore who sat out the entire 2008 season seized a starting defensive end job. While Kapron Lewis Moore was undoubtedly raw, he led all Irish defensive linemen with 46 tackles, finishing sixth on the team, including seven tackles for loss.
KLM followed up his debut season with his 2010 effort, starting 13 games, finishing fourth on the team with 62 tackles. His two sacks weren’t enough to call him a disruptive force in the passing game, but his ability to be around the football continued to shine.
In many ways, Lewis-Moore encapsulated the progression of the Irish defense. While he certainly grew as a football player, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Midway through last season, head coach Brian Kelly talked about that development process.
“He’s clearly a young man that has had to develop physically,” Kelly said. “He came on campus at 215-220 pounds in that range, and he’s up there upwards of 280 pounds. He’s getting used to his body, he really is. He’s carrying a lot of cargo if you will and he’s really becoming a lot more comfortable with that. So that growth and development is really changing a physique from what it was to where it is today, because he possess a lot of athletic ability and we are seeing that each and every week.”
Starting with the Navy game, Lewis-Moore picked up his productivity, having games of seven and eight tackles, while only having less than four tackles against Tulsa. His consistent ability to anchor a position that absolutely needed productive performances out of he and Ethan Johnson was a huge break for defensive coordinator Bob Diaco.
100 word preview for Kapron Lewis-Moore in 2011:
Steady but not spectacular certainly was acceptable in 2010, but the bar for the 2011 Irish defense has been raised. After two seasons of starting at defensive end, it’s time for Lewis-Moore to excel, getting more pressure on the quarterback and wreaking havoc in the run game. KLM’s athletic ability and impressive size give him all the tools needed for success, and as Bob Diaco’s system continues to evolve, Lewis-Moore will be asked to grow with it. Thanks to an infusion of talent at the position, KLM should benefit from depth that’ll allow him to stay fresh and more productive.
Importance in 2011:
The Irish have the opportunity to have one of the strongest defensive lines in the post-Holtz era, with Ethan Johnson also poised to have a monster season. With the emergence of Kona Schwenke and the ability for Aaron Lynch to provide a pass-rushing spark, the Irish front could be a dominating unit.