There was not a lot of depth at the linebacker position in 2012.
2013 looks to be a completely different story.
Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers return looking to redeem themselves for a troublesome season in 2012. Flowers, who was moved to linebacker from safety during fall camp last year, has a lot more confidence at linebacker coming into this season.
"Having a whole offseason and kind of the spring, I'm a lot more comfortable," said Flowers. "Just focusing on one position, I should be good going in."
Jake Fischer also talked about the improvements at the position and how the defense has kind of a chip on their shoulder.
Besides Fischer and Flowers, a lot of freshmen are going to see some significant playing time, and RichRod seems ok with that, always complimenting guys like Scooby Wright and DeAndre' Miller, and more recently Jake Matthews.
"Just trying to learn from the older guys," said Wright, who went to high school in Windsor, CA. "They help me a lot. They always look out for me."
"I just need to get the mental side down. Going from high school to college there's a lot more mentals. A lot more plays, a lot more coverages."
Another guy who will make an impact on the field is DeAndre' Miller. Miller's another guy who stayed in state, having gone to Buckeye Union HS.
"Me and Scooby committed on the same day, so we have kind of this connection." said Miller.
"I don't like to lose. So I think my advantage is working hard on the field. I gotta work on a lot of things though, a lot of things I need to work on to be great."
Derrick Turituri started off at the top of the list when RichRod named freshmen that he noticed during fall practices, but has sort of fallen off lately. He should still be out on the field a lot to help with the depth at SLB.
"It's been a big eye-opener," said Turituri. "It's a lot tougher than high school. I've learned quite a bit but it's been a challenge."
"The blitzes are different. I'd never go inside blitz in high school. It's just different."
Fischer and Flowers have been a huge help for all these new guys coming in.
"They're just always helpful," Turituri continued. "They go to film with me, they help me study. Just a huge help."
The biggest struggle in 2012, particularly for Jake Fischer, was having to play a ton of plays every game due to the lack of depth. With no major injuries throughout fall camp, the depth is there at linebacker this year, and a lot more quality players will be out the field all the time.
Expect big things from this defensive corps in 2013, especially compared to last year. They've come out in the fall with a chip on their shoulder, put forth the effort, and are looking for great results.
"You'd have to be blind to not see how big of a difference it's been from last year to this year."