After the Huskers lost all three of their defensive line starters to the NFL last season there was a bit of concern of how the young guys would do. But through five games it’s the defensive line that has been one of the strongest units on this team. A big part of that is the leadership that senior Ben Stille is able to instill. For this week’s Scouting Perspective I wanted to take a look at Stille’s performance against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
What he Did Well
Against a strong Hawkeye rushing attack, Ben Stille was at his best using his strength and hands to hold the point of attack and then shed to make tackles. Stille flashed these skills early in the game as he was able to push away the left guard and then burst into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss. Later in the game Stille was able to stand up left tackle Alaric Jackson and slide laterally to the outside forcing the running back to have to stop and cut back to the middle.
Rushing the quarterback is not Stille’s strong suit but against Iowa he was able to get some pressure because of his power. Stille was able to get underneath the left guard and drive him back forcing Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras to flee the pocket. In the second half Stille was able to victimize the left guard again but lifting him up and pushing him to the side in route to a quarterback hit.
One other thing that stood out against Iowa was that Stille showed good awareness and anticipation to where the ball was going to go. While part of that is likely from good film study, he had a good feel for the game. That shows in the first half when he’s moving laterally on a zone run away but reads the running back cutting and is able to redirect to trip him up.
Where he Struggled
For as good as Stille was at the point of attack against the run, he just lacks the needed athletic ability to be a consistent pass rushing threat. Far too often Stille would attack at the lineman but had no real plan which allowed the lineman to keep him from getting anywhere. Even when Stille gets an advantage on the lineman his lack of good burst or quickness prevents him from firing through and will allow the lineman to recover.
Despite having a good game against Iowa and having a strong season overall, my thoughts on Stille and his transition to the NFL has not changed. Stille is a solid player who is able to hold the point of attack and has shown improved hand usage that allows him to get off blocks well. But what is going to hold him back in the NFL is his lack of athletic ability. Because of that he’ll go undrafted and have to work his way onto a team through rookie OTA’s and hopefully get a shot in the preseason. But that’s all assume that the NFL has a regular off season and not the virtual one like we had this past season.