This is the seventh part in a series of football season preview articles by campus correspondent Luke Swanson, taking a closer look at some of the opponents UConn will be facing this season.
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”
- Sun Tzu, "The Art of War”
Micah Kiser, Senior LB at Virginia, could’ve easily entered the NFL draft this year. He had the talent for it, as most scouts had him going in the third round, but he chose to stay at Virginia.
That’s great news for UVA fans, as Kiser was the last string holding the Cavaliers’ tattered defense together this past season, and bad news for UConn’s running game ahead of their week three showdown.
Kiser accounted for 15.2% of all tackles for UVA last year, the second most of any player for any team in college football. In addition, Kiser accounted for 15% of all UVA’s sacks and nearly 50% of their forced fumbles. He is quite clearly the cornerstone of that defense, and how the Cavaliers fare on that side of the ball almost always hinges on him.
Kiser is a mountain of a linebacker, standing 6’2” and weighing in at over 240 lbs, which presents a problem for opposing offensive linemen and fullbacks off the jump: he’s just plain hard to move around.
Kiser runs a 4.86 40, which is on the slower side for linebackers, but he balances it out with his astounding football sense which helped him record 133 tackles in 2016, coming in at number three in the country.
Watch here as Kiser (#53) recognizes this toss sweep almost immediately by reading the guard, evades the blocker, and put himself in perfect position to make a play.
Kiser could have been even more effective as a defender if he had gotten any help whatsoever from the outside. Only one edge rusher, Andrew Brown, had more than five sacks last year, and if others at that position can step up to the plate in 2017, it would free up Kiser to become even more of a wrecking crew from the inside.
If Kiser doesn’t get the help he needs, UConn should have a fighting chance against UVA’s defense. If he gets even a little bit of assistance from the edge, then watch the hell out.
Luke Swanson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.