“Men of Mayhem”, John Carroll Football’s Defensive Line Best in the Nation

Blue Streaks tackle the Cardinals in the backfield.

JCU Sports Info

Blue Streaks tackle the Cardinals in the backfield.

Kyle Kelly, Sports Editor

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The “Men of Mayhem,” is a term coined by John Carroll football defensive line coach Jeff Long for his position group — and it certainly brings mayhem to opposing offensive units.

In the first game of the season, on Sept. 1st against University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the JCU defensive line notched five sacks in the 45–21 win against the Pointers. After two weeks, the five Blue Streak sacks against the Pointers stood as a top 10 total in the country and the best in the OAC. The catch: JCU only played one game, with the majority of the country playing two games in that two weeks.

A week off did not phase a Blue Streaks defensive line that remained hungry. The Men of Mayhem wreaked havoc again on Sept. 15], totaling six and a half quarterback sacks in a 45–0 shutout performance against the Otterbein Cardinals.

Senior Jimmy Thomas, the team’s leader against Otterbein with two sacks, felt his unit played up to their standards against the Cardinals.

“As a unit, we pride ourselves on creating mayhem and doing everything possible to help the other seven guys on defense,” said Thomas. The Men of Mayhem did just that, with the defense adding an interception and four pass breakups in the win.

Thomas also added two tackles in a loss against Otterbein, an impressive performance on all accounts. The senior defensive lineman, Thomas, has now positioned himself sixth all-time in sacks and ninth all-time in tackles for loss in the John Carroll record books.

Thomas is just one of many outstanding defensive linemen for JCU. Seniors Ray Brown, Mike Schmitt and Adam Thompson, juniors Conner Bogard Tyler Fredrick, Timothy Pringle and Trevor Morrison, and sophomore Cal Reynolds shape a unit that is the strongest position group on the team.

“Each individual in our room is extremely talented, but what makes them so productive is their competitiveness. There is always someone pushing someone,” Long said. Against Otterbein, seven of the eight key defensive lineman had a tackle for loss or sack in the shutout win. Bograd added, “I would say we are the most experienced position group on the team. We have a lot of depth with lots of guys playing throughout the game.”

Against the Cardinals collectively, the Blue Streaks finished with an astonishing 10 sacks and 17 tackles for loss — that is unheard of. More impressively, the defense allowed -49 rushing yards, which puts the Blue Streaks with the fifth best run defense in the nation.

“Our mindset and standard each week is to strain to do our job on every snap 100 miles per hour. If we attack each snap with that mindset, we have the chance to dominate every week,” said Long.

The Blue Streaks now have 15 sacks on the season through two games, which is the best in the nation out of 239 teams. JCU is also tied for fourth in the nation in tackles for loss with a total of 13.0.

Thompson, the Blue and Gold’s leader in sacks against Stevens Point, said, “We have all played together for so long, so we feed off each other.” Their hard work has been paying off through two games, with national accolades.

Thompson is one of many leaders on the Blue Streaks 2018 football team, with his opinion often being respected by his teammates. “I want to try and get everyone to improve on a weekly basis and play at their peak performance,” said Thompson. John Carroll will surely need to play at their peak performance this week for their game on Sept. 22nd.

The biggest test of the season will come against JCU’s conference rival, the №1 ranked team in the country, the Mount Union Purple Raiders. Mount Union is 10th in the country in total offense and fifth in the nation in scoring offense. Expect the JCU defensive line to be ultra focused for the rivalry game.

Preseason All-American Bogard said, “We are always looking to get better every day. Our team motto is ‘Never Satisfied,’ so we always play and compete with a chip on our shoulders.”