FOOTBALL SEASON PREVIEW: A look at the Vikings defence

Portland State Football opens preseason practice at Stott Community Field today at 10:15 am. The Vikings are looking to improve on their 5-6 record from last season, 4-4 in the Big Sky Conference.

This week we take a look at the team preparing for the 2022 season.

TODAY – THE DEFENSE

The 2022 Viking football season will be a mix of outstanding returning talent and high expectations for newcomers in key roles.

Portland State brings back depth and experience as a wide receiver, defensive end, linebacker and defensive back. The Vikings will be looking for newcomers in key quarterback, nose tackle and running back positions to step forward.

Head Coach eighth year Bruce Barnum has 44 letterwinners back, including 19 starters with eight on offense, nine on defense and two on special teams.

DEFENSE

Portland State has a large group of returners and good depth on the defensive side with nine returning starters and 27 letter winners. One area Vikings look to reinforce is the line of defense – particularly nose tackle.

veteran Semise Kofe, which anchored the nose tackle spot for the past few seasons, has graduated. The only other player with experience is SO Martin Salazar (5-10, 285), who played as a true freshman in five games before an injury sidelined his season. SR Boogie Davis (6-3, 275) also played some snaps up the nose and at the defensive end, but only played in two games last season due to injury. A wild card in tackle would be SR Moses Finau (6-1, 260), who impressed in the spring. The Vikings also have RS FR Jessie Brown (6-2, 280) are vying for game time at the spot.

SR EJ Ane (6-2, 275), an FBS transfer from San Jose State, will likely have some say when it comes to replacing Kofe. Ane played in 28 games on the defensive line for San Jose State and made 68 career tackles. His size and experience bring a lot to the program.

The Vikings end up having experience with the return of the SR starters VJ Malo (6-1, 270) and Jake Porter (6-4, 250). Malo took the conference by storm last season, making 45 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks and forcing three fumbles. He earned a second-team All-Big Sky Conference and, as a Preseason All-American, should be primed for a big senior season.

Porter has played in 35 career games, matching All-American DB Anthony Adams, for the most experience in the team. He has 21 career starts on the defensive end and has a working knowledge of Viking defensive systems.

The Vikings have a lot of young players to support them. SO Kennedy Freeman (6-2, 240) showed promise as a pass rusher but was another Viking whose 2021 season was sidelined with injury. RS FRs Slade Shufelt (6-3, 225) and Zane Maningo (6-2, 250) adds depth.

PSU added JR Transfer Dino Kahaulelio (6-0, 285) from City College of San Francisco, who may also compete in nose tackle in 2022. signer Mike McNeill (6-1, 280) and Elias Sanders (6-2, 265) are newcomers who offer long-term depth.

The Vikings should be loaded at Linebacker. It starts with SO Parker McKenna (6-0, 220), who started every game as a middle linebacker. He led the Vikings with 88 tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. McKenna has the sideline-to-sideline speed needed in PSU’s flex defensive system.

SR’s Robert Holt (6-2, 225) and Tevita Tuitake (6-0, 225) and SO Justice Pagan (6-2, 235) all have size, quality experience, and starts on their resumes. Despite missing two games, Pagan finished seventh on the team last season with 39 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and two sacks against Buck Linebacker. Holt (17 tackles) and Tuitavake (15 tackles) combined for a handful of starts. One of those three is expected to start at Whip Linebacker, replacing graduate Nic Ah Sam, who started every game there in 2021.

JR Isaiah Henry (5-11, 205) is another veteran player who should see more time as a linebacker, possibly at center with McKenna.

Other recurring letter winners at Linebacker are JRs Zack Mandera (6-1, 220) and Ian Crocker (6-1, 220). RS FR Spencer Delacruz (6-1, 220) will also flow into the mixture.

PSU signed FR LBs Elijah Mareko (6-2, 225), Joseph Nanai (6-1, 240) and Peyton wings (6-0, 210) to group in February, then added Utah State Transfer Jaymason Willingham (6-1, 220) over the summer.

The back end of the defense is also filled with experienced, talented players. The rover back position is a hybrid linebacker/defensive back role that brings back two players who were starters there for the past two full seasons. SO Tyreese Shakir (5-10, 175) took charge of the starting XI at the start of the 2021 season and had a great year as a freshman. He had 32 tackles, a sack, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and four pass breakups. JR David Joseph (6-1, 200) has played in 28 career games and made nine career starts, mostly at Rover. He had 27 tackles with Rover last season, on special teams and as a defensive backfield spot. Both players will be a key Viking defense in 2022.

The Vikings will have a senior-laden back four that’s brimming with experience, talent and playmakers.

PSU returns both starting cornerbacks and has excellent depth in that position. SR Anthony Adams (6-0, 185) is the face of the Viking defense, having started all 35 career games at PSU. A two-time First Team All-Big Sky Conference pick — once as a safety and once as a cornerback — he was a consensus First Team All-American in 2019 after leading the nation in passes defended. After PSU pulled out of the 2020 season due to COVID, Adams may have faded from the minds of some national media, but his performance was just as strong in 2021, and he’s now a consensus preseason All-American in 2022. Adams did 52 tackles, five tackles for loss, had three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, five pass breaks and forced a fumble as the Vikings’ border cornerback. He was named to an All-America team but missed the others. Surely he should be remembered as one of the nation’s best defenders in 2022. Adams goes into the season with 165 career tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 31 pass breakups and 13 career takeaways (9 INT, 4 FR). . His 40 career passes defended (30 PBU, 9 INT) is the most of any returning FCS player in the nation.

At field cornerback, SR Evan Camarena (6-0, 185) returns after 11 starts and 29 tackles last season. He will be joined by three SOs along with Adams who have seen plenty of game time and performed well in 2021. Semay Bolin (5-10, 170) and Davion Gaines (6-0, 170) saw significant action and will be fighting for more corner time. Bolin had 11 tackles and one interception to lead that group. SO Michael Jackson (6-2, 185) also returns with experience, giving the Vikings excellent depth. RS FRs Jalen Boston (5-11, 170) and Ronan Gay (6-1, 185) make the cornerback position even deeper.

Portland State also returns starters and depth at the safety points. SR Xavier Bell (6-2, 200) took over the SAM role after crossing over from Arizona last year. He proved to be one of the Vikings’ key players on defense, finishing third on the team with 50 tackles and leading the team with seven passes. SOS day day bright (5-10, 170) and Travis west (5-6, 160) are young but experienced players at safety.

SR Broderick Harrell (5-11, 200) found his best role in the defensive backfield until the middle of last year when he took over at free safety. Like Bell, Harrell was an FBS transfer from UTEP who also became a playmaker for the Vikings. He was fourth on the team with 48 tackles, had five demolished passes and a fumbled recovery.

Recurring Letter Winner Shea Carstens (5-10, 185) was primarily a special teams contribution, but also adds depth to the defensive backfield. RSSO Jake Urena (5-9, 180) will also struggle to get into the mix in the safe position.

Four signers of the National Letter of Intent will arrive this fall as newcomers to the defensive backcourt: Elijah Gipson (5-11, 170), Duhron Goodman (5-11, 190), Michael Hurst (5-11, 190) and Esriel Vasquez (5-11, 170). The Vikings also signed the transfer to Liberty University Isaiah Avery (6-0, 175).

THURSDAY: SPECIAL TEAMS, TEAM NOTES


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