On Twitter last week, Josiah Tauaefa announced that he would elect to enter the NFL Draft. This decision was anticipated as the linebacker gained attention with his play each year. However, rather than looking into how Tauaefa performed in his career at UTSA. We’ll be looking into how the defense will look with his absence.
next chapter🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/ZFveE1dD2v
— Josiah Tauaefa (@josiahtauaefa) December 29, 2018
UTSA and Josiah Tauaefa’s Departure
Tauaefa is ranked within the top 20 of all 88 linebackers likely going into the 2019 draft. His performance and work ethic are rarely matched. He leads the school in many defensive statistical categories. Tauaefa is also seen as one of the school’s best players since the program was started in 2011. With this being said, the Roadrunners will now be forced to fill this void in the defense.
UTSA Defense In 2018
UTSA’s defense under performed and were bested by most opposing offensive coordinators this past season. They gave up 31.2 points/game and ranked 87th in the country out of 130 in opponents points/game. Poor corner and safety play gave rise to many issues. However, Tauaefa’s departure will surely negatively impact the linebacking core as well. In the early signing period, UTSA focused on recruiting corners and safeties because of their deficiencies in that area. Unfortunately, they did not sign any linebackers. This could prove to be detrimental to defense as they lose this key performer and playmaker.
Future Of The UTSA Defense
UTSA has been predicated on their defensive play in years past. However, after the loss of their defensive captain, the future of the unit is a question mark. The team will likely rely on key transfers and more recruits in February signing as Spring ball nears. Unfortunately, this team has a very young linebacking core with little experience to lean on. Also, UTSA’s third-leading tackler, Les Maruo, is a senior this year and UTSA will be forced to rely on the younger players. As of now, the Roadrunners have eight linebackers that could fill this spot. However, only four of these players saw the field at least once this season.
Defensive coordinator Jason Rollins and linebackers coach Charlie Champ certainly will have some tough decisions to make ahead of the 2019 season. As of right now, there are only a few viable options at the linebacking position. The Roadrunners have De’Marco Guirdy, who this past year contributed six tackles. The team can also look at Tyler Mahnke who had five solo tackles. There is a lot of young talent coming back at the linebacker position. However, expect there to be a large learning curve for these young men.
2019: A Defensive Rebuild
More than likely, UTSA could be expected to struggle on the defensive side of the ball again in the 2019 season. These new faces will be making their first starts next year to fill the spaces left by their dominant predecessors. Will it be pretty? Probably not, which makes it understandable how this could be a learning season for the linebackers. There will be lots of shuffling and different looks to see where these players can fit into the system.
Josiah Tauaefa looks to be the third UTSA Alumni to land on an NFL roster. The other two players are David Morgan II who plays for the Minnesota Vikings. As well as Marcus Davenport who plays for the New Orleans Saints. Tauaefa is will likely land around the second or third round of the draft. However, he will be leaving a large spot to fill in his absence. UTSA will surely have a difficult time replacing a star player of this caliber. However, as spring ball nears, the decision will become clearer.