Diverse, deep and different: the D-line

by Erich Bogner, Sports Reporter

Cody Carlson, Isaac Frazier and Jake Stearns are the three seniors who make up the starting unit of Simpson’s defensive line.

At 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 215 pounds, Frazier is a big guy. Frazier is also fast enough to go to nationals in track. On top of that, he led the Iowa Conference in sacks last season. He plays a recurring role in the nightmares of quarterbacks throughout the IIAC.

Stearns is 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs around 220 pounds. He is undersized for a nose tackle, but he doesn’t play like a typical nose tackle either. His size allows him to be quicker than most offensive and defensive linemen. Stearns also has a history of playing wide receiver and basketball, so he has quick feet and uses them to juke his way around the offensive line and get to the quarterback.

Opposite Frazier is defensive end Carlson. Carlson is a 6-foot-4-inch, 220-pound run stopper. He is a big guy who does the little things to make the defensive line successful.

“I kind of see myself as a teacher a little bit,” Carlson said. “I’m not saying I’m better than anyone else, but I wasn’t gifted with the speed and athletic talent of some guys on our team. A lot of what I do is based on preparation, practice and working really hard. This lets me talk through strategy with the younger guys.”

The line is deep at all of the positions. Stearns said they have a lot of guys who can play well, so when the starters come out of the game, the backup is there to make the same plays.

He referenced senior Jon Burgardt, who does not get a lot of playing time, but when he comes in to replace Stearns, he makes plays like Stearns would.

Frazier leads the IIAC in sacks this year with seven, something he attributes this to his foot speed.

“I am a pass rusher. That’s for sure,” Frazier said. “I’m not really a big run stopper, but I get to the quarterback. That’s definitely my job.”

Stearns does well in pass rushing also with two sacks this year. That puts him in the top 10 for sacks. Carlson is credited with one sack this season as well. The defensive line accounts for four of Simpson’s top ten tacklers.

Carlson, Frazier and Stearns will be back in action Saturday for homecoming but are already getting after Luther quarterback Brady Letney in his nightmares.