For the first time this year, Jesse Knight is getting some work on the defensive side of the ball, and he’s loving it.
Knight, who suffered a torn meniscus during spring ball, was considered the Senators’ top returning defensive linemen entering the season after chalking up 37 tackles and two hurries in the 2012 campaign. Once he recovered from his injury, however, he was pressed into duty at left tackle when Aaron Cowee suffered a high ankle sprain against McQueen. Because Cowee may return on Friday for the Galena game, Knight has been getting some reps at defensive tackle. Whether Cowee returns or not, Knight could get snaps on both sides of the ball on Friday.
“I’d played defense ever since I was nine years old,” Knight said Wednesday prior to practice. “It’s what I know. I hadn’t played any offense since my sophomore year. I just wanted to see us win, and winning is about putting the team ahead of yourself at all times. I love defense; love getting a sack or making a big tackle.”
“He stepped right in and worked hard,” coach Blair Roman said. “He did what’s best for the team. Last year at defensive tackle, he stood out at times; was very, very good. As with most juniors, consistency is an issue. He didn’t have a chance to show it.
“He already got a few reps on defense (Tuesday and Wednesday). He’ll get more (today).”
Roman appreciated the sacrifice that Knight has made, and the way he did it. Anybody associated with CHS football knows Knight would rather be on defense, but he’s gone about his new job in a businesslike, professional manner.
In fact, Knight has done yeomanlike work filling in for the talented Cowee, who was a preseason all-state selection.
“I know he’s probably our best offensive lineman,” Knight said. “I think I’ve done well; not up to my standards. It was tough. I missed the entire summer, and then I’m on offense. I didn’t have much time to prepare. When we get graded, 60 is a good score. I’m in the 50s. I do my job. I’m trying to make up for my lack of experience. If I don’t (do my job), our quarterback is going to get killed because I have his blind side.
“Technique is the toughest thing (about playing offensive line). That’s what you work on in the off-season. I still make mistakes with my footwork. Everything else is pretty easy.”
Roman said the footwork issue is more about repetition and not about difficulty. So when you consider Knight is playing just his fourth week of football this year, you have to be impressed.
In the last three games that Knight has started, the Senators are averaging more than 180 yards on the ground, and Knight along with Noah Teixeira, Andrew Cooper, Josue Orozco, Maurilio Olivares and Skylar Schilling have all stepped up and played well at various times.
“We’ve been able to more than hold our own,” Roman said. “We’ve had great improvement in our running game. I feel every week we’re getting better, especially since the McQueen and Damonte games.”
Roman said that the return of Cowee gives Carson more depth on both the offensive and defensive lines. Even when Cowee comes back, Roman could use Knight to spell both Cowee and Orozco which is key because Cowee won’t be able to play a full game right off the bat.
Knight is expected to spell both Cooper and Nevin Elliott at defensive tackle, which will help keep both players fresh for offense.
The offensive line has been changed a lot because of injuries. Roman said this reminds him of 2010 when Matt Cooper went from guard to tackle two different times during the season. Despite the changes, Carson’s offense has remained effective.