The CSU defense will face a Houston team Saturday that is built on speed but that is nothing new.
Cal was built on speed, too, and the Rams defense was able to keep the Golden Bears offense in check for most of the game, giving up just two long plays and 391 yards two weeks ago. But Houston’s spread sets and the quickness of senior running back Anthony Alridge make the Cougars offense unique.
That’s where junior middle linebacker Jeff Horinek comes in.
At 6-foot-3, 238 pounds, Horinek is a proven leader on defense and possesses solid tackling ability. Starting all 12 games last year, he racked up 69 tackles. In 26 career games, Horinek has 141.5 tackles, 2 sacks and 1 interception.
All that experience feeds into one thing: discipline.
When facing a running back like Alridge, who loves to cut back against the grain on aggressive, over-pursuing defenses, Horinek said the linebacker corps needs to be careful to stay in their lanes and make solid tackles.
“We’ve been working on taking good solid angles,” Horinek said. “He’s just another guy, and we’ve got to be ready for him.”
Linebackers coach and defensive coordinator Steve Stanard said that Alridge will provide a unique challenge for his defense.
“We just have to keep focused,” Stanard said. “All backs at this level are going to be good. We just have to be conscious of our angles.”
While there was some question as to who would start at the strong-side “Sam” linebacker spot at the beginning of the year, junior Curtis Cornelson has earned the job and started in the last two games.
Horinek said that the familiarity he is developing with Cornelson on the strong side and with sophomore Jake Pottorff on the weak side is invaluable to the defense.
“We’re getting a lot better – we’re starting to know what we are doing,” Horinek said of the linebackers. “We still make mistakes and the coaches tell us about it when we do but we’re starting to get a lot better.”
Major: Health and exercise science
Hometown: Atwood, Kansas
By the numbers:
5.4- tackles per game
24- career starts
2003- year Horinek was the Kansas state wrestling champion