This article was published by the Detroit Free Press.
The bread and butter for Wayne State football under coach Paul Winters has been an unforgiving ground attack, coupled with a solid defense.
Flip-flop those two core tenets for 2015 because, this year, the Warriors will lean on a stingy defense.
“When I start to talk about the defense, I get really excited,” said Warriors’ head coach Paul Winters.
And he should be.
The defense returns a number of high impact players from the 2014 unit that slashed points allowed per game from 31 in 2013, to 21.4 last year. The Warriors return three fifth-year senior starters in a loaded secondary, led by leading tackler and defensive captain, safety Zak Bielecki.
“They’re gonna be really good, and probably I’d like to think the best secondary in the league,” said Winters, who enters his 12th season at the helm of the program.
Along with Bielecki, the Warriors return safety Jamiil Williams and cornerback Brandon Lee.
“We’re for real brothers out there,” said Bielecki of Williams and Lee.
The trio roomed together for one year, and Bielecki says the familiarity off the field makes communication on the field “way easier because we know what each other is going to do.” Fewer breakdowns in communication should help prevent big plays on the back-end.
As captain of the defense, Bielecki said he’ll lead by example with his play.
“Make tackles, fly around, and turnovers stuff like that from myself, and then it filters around,” he said. “It’s contagious.”
Up front, redshirt sophomore Jake Carrizales returns to lead a deep defensive line. He was a second-team All-GLIAC selection, coming off the bench to finish fourth in the conference in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss.
Offensively, the Warriors are known for a stellar ground attack, churning out the likes of Joique Bell, Josh Renel, Toney Davis and last year’s offensive star, Desmond Martin, who is in camp with the Lions.
Though Winters hasn’t seen anyone separate from the pack to fill the void left by Martin, he’s confident in the young talent at running back, and knows the experienced offensive line and scheme will combine to create seams for whoever totes the rock.
“We’ve got the backs,” he said.
The offense will however have vital continuity at quarterback in fifth-year senior Carl Roscoe, who has 15 career starts under his belt, including 10 last season.
“The experiences that he’s had and the knowledge that he has, makes it more of a calming influence,” Winters said of having his starting signal caller back. “As opposed to a guy who’s kind of looking around with wide eyes and doesn’t know exactly what to expect. So I think maybe more than anything else and it’s not measurable, but it has an effect on the players.”
Roscoe had an up-and-down 2014 campaign that saw him throw 10 touchdowns against nine interceptions. He wants to provide stability this season.
“If I stay consistent and I stay strong and confident, then we’ll be really successful,” Roscoe said.
If Roscoe finds that consistency and limits his mistakes, the Warriors will be a serious threat in the GLIAC’s North division.