Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who is Suh? Only the nation's best defensive player (from (Alex)

It's hard to quantify. Imagine having a dog that can talk or a car that goes underwater. That's Ndamukong Suh. His game is as different as his name. Things he does aren't supposed to be done.
"I can't imagine," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said, "a better defensive lineman in the country."
Nebraska's defensive tackle is approaching the point where he becomes the defensive equivalent of Tim Tebow -- able to control the game by himself. At 6-4, 300 pounds, he is Gumby -- able to stretch his body into places where it doesn't belong, able to achieve what no defensive tackle has done before him.

During the win at Missouri, Suh tallied six tackles, a sack, forced fumble and an interception. (US Presswire)
That's why his game is so hard to quantify. Suh, whose name is pronounced En-dom-ah-ken Soo, is coming off what might be the best game ever by a collegiate defensive tackle. On a rain-soaked Faurot Field at Missouri on Thursday, he was seemingly the only once with balance, so much so that he put together one of the more staggering lines for a tackle -- six tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, two pass breakups and an interception that led to the winning touchdown.
That's a good month for some defensive tackles. Before being drafted in the first round, LSU's Glenn Dorsey had an All-American season in 2007 making all of 69 tackles. Suh had 76 last season as a junior. That made him the first lineman to lead Nebraska in that statistic since 1973, plus the 76 tackles were the most by a Husker lineman since 1992.
Suh is tied for sixth nationally in passes defended, a category usually reserved for defensive backs. He is one of only three defensive linemen listed in the NCAA's top 100 in that category. At a position that is usually reserved for fat, stubby guys, Suh dominates. The Football Writers Association of America named him the national defensive player of the week.
How many defensive tackles do you know who can jump out of the gym? That's part of the reason why Suh has five career interceptions. Those are "outside numbers" at a "position inside" as Pinkel puts it.
"When I see him play, I think to myself that this is as good as I've seen around here," Charlie McBride, Nebraska's venerable former defensive coordinator, told the Associated Press before the season.
Former Huskers great Jason Peter wants to see a mean streak. The 1997 Outland Trophy finalist took Suh aside before the 2008 season and told him it's a matter of attitude. You see a guy's taking up the armrest next to you at the movies, knock it off. Walking down the street and dudes coming the other way? Make them move.
"You got to act like a bad [man]," Peter told Suh.
No, he's not going to win the Heisman, but in college football circles they are whispering that Suh has just about locked up the Outland, the defensive equivalent of the stiff-arm.
The trophy is sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee, which would love to have one of its own in town to accept the hardware in January. Already, Suh is the nation's best defensive player, a title that he isn't likely to lose considering he is a slam-dunk top five pick in next year's draft. Pro comparisons range from Warren Sapp to Reggie White.
Nebraska would settle for him to be the next Peter. That would be a sign of progress for a program trying to re-establish itself. Peter was the last Husker All-American defensive lineman way back in 1997. That was the year of Nebraska's last national championship and only time a defensive player (Michigan's Charles Woodson) won the Heisman.
"I don't think he has a chance to win the Heisman," said Chris Huston, who operates, which regularly polls voters across the country. "But he actually got a couple of first-place votes this week. The benefit of a guy [like Suh] going for the Heisman is that it will create that consolation effect of locking up the Outland."
Nebraska isn't doing much for Suh in the way of publicity other than to let him play. That Thursday night helped a lot, because Suh and fellow tackle Jared Crick were collapsing Missouri's line seemingly on every play. His advantage, Suh says, is lining up head up on the player in front of him. That makes it more difficult for defenses to double-team him.
"You never know where I'm going to go," Suh said. "I can go to the A gap, the B gap. We're always moving so there's really no way to just sit there and key on me. It's still tough to know where I'm going."
The Missouri game could be just an appetizer. This week the Huskers play Texas Tech and its pass-happy offense. Imagine Suh roaming free against the one-dimensional Red Raiders. Suh was neutralized in last year's meeting with Missouri, a 52-17 loss in Lincoln, but shortly after that he started to blossom. By the end of 2008, he was Nebraska's first All-Big 12 interior defensive lineman in nine years.
"There's more out there for him to get," Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. "I don't think he's reached his potential yet."
That raises a couple of questions. Why did Suh come to Nebraska in the first place, becoming the Huskers' first scholarship player from Oregon, and why is he still around? Suh, a redshirt senior, could easily have left after last season -- the NFL projected him as a late first-, early second-round pick.
Give the reviled Bill Callahan some credit for getting the kid to Lincoln in 2005. Suh came to Nebraska because he wanted to be in an established program, even though Nebraska at the time was underachieving under the former coach. Suh stayed for a fifth year because he likes Pelini, a defensive zealot, who made a point to visit the player and his family in Portland following the season.
"I definitely thought about coming out," Suh said. "But when Coach Bo came out and spoke to my family before the bowl game, it was sort of a no-brainer for me to come back.
"It wasn't anything to persuade me to come back. It was an opportunity. I could move myself up. Then he said if I did come back he would work with me. At this point it's worth it for me to be a top 10 pick.
"I wanted to prove I wasn't a one-year wonder."
In this world of rogues and miscreants even at the college level, Suh speaks thoughtfully and articulately. His parents are divorced but he remains the proud product of his mother, an elementary teacher from Jamaica and a father who is a native of Cameroon. His name means "House of Spears" in the native tongue of the Ngema tribe.
After the career-altering Missouri game, Suh said his cell phone blew up with 27 messages, most of them from friends and family back in Oregon. Like all of us, they had seen that talking dog, that submarining car.
"The biggest thing for me was doing it on national television," Suh said. "Usually a lot of people back home don't get to see me play."
At his present pace, that's about to change. With the right cable hook-up, the NFL can be seen everywhere.

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