A Man Named Suh: Why Ndamukong Suh Is the Best Defender in the Game

Josh KleinCorrespondent IOctober 28, 2009

A boy named Suh. 

Ndamukong Suh is the most dominant interior lineman that no one is talking about this season.  Well I shouldn’t say no one.  After the Missouri game smatterings of a “Suh for Heisman” campaign were heard all over Husker Nation.

Not just Husker nation though, even throughout the world of ESPN and Sports Illustrated.  One man even had Suh in his top five for the Heisman after that week.  Was it an overreaction to a brilliant game, or was it recognition for a phenomenal body of work?

Ndamukong means House of Spears in Cameroon.  And to offensive linemen it seems like a house of spears is being hurled at their quarterback and their running back every snap of every play. 

Sometimes Suh is double and even triple teamed, but when that happens Jared Crick, Baker Steinkuhler and players like Barry Turner and Pierre Allen get into the mix, taking, at least for a moment, some pressure off of Ndamukong.

Ndamukong Suh has become a household name in Nebraska, and the nation shouldn’t fool itself, he will become a household name in the NFL too.

You see, Suh is seen as the most dominant defensive tackle in the game, not because he does what a defensive tackle is supposed to do, but he does that and what a middle linebacker should do.  Suh has the ability to rush the passer, read the run, drop into coverage and even pick of passes and block kicks.

Name another defensive tackle in the NFL or in the NCAA that is known for all of those things and I’ll show you a hall of famer.

Just last year Ndamukong Suh had two interceptions for touchdowns, and also became the first interior linemen  to lead the Huskers in tackles since 1973 with seventy-six. 

Looking at Suh’s stat line from a year ago you can see what I mean.  He had 76 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

But big man Suh doesn’t just do it defensively.  Last season in goal line situations the big man lined up as the full back a myriad of times.  Suh has the soft hands and the athleticism to play that spot.  In fact last season he even caught a touchdown pass from Joe Ganz.  Name another defensive tackle that has done that and again I’ll show you a hall of famer.

In 2008 Suh accounted for 18 of Nebraska’s 460 points on the year.  Not something generally attributed to a defensive tackle at the collegiate level.

2009 started off with a lull for Suh, but he is in mid-season form now.  Games against Virginia Tech and Missouri speak for themselves: pass deflections, sacks, run stopping, and interceptions all kept Nebraska in those two games. 

Suh again leads the Husker team in tackles with 44 on the season; ten of those are tackles for loss.  Suh is also fifth in the Big 12 in pass break ups with eight, including one interception.   That statistic is particularly astounding because not only is he fifth in the Big 12, but he is tied for 22nd in the nation.  A spot normally dominated by defensive backs doesn’t see another lineman crack into the top 100 until Broderick Binns  from Iowa cracks it at 79th .

Not only that but Suh leads the team in sacks with five and has forced a fumble as well.

But there are things the stat sheet doesn’t say about the House of Spears.

One is that nearly every game teams double and triple team him, yet his numbers have yet to go down.  Suh is also the vocal leader on the team, he can even be seen spurring on the offense when their performance is lack-luster.

Sure, there are other great defensive tackles in the game, like Terrence Cody for Alabama, or Gerald McCoy for Oklahoma, but neither of them hold a candle to the type of athlete that Ndamukong Suh is.

McCoy may be a great interior linemen but he doesn’t do the stuff Suh does, and his statistics show it.

The SEC has generally been the defensive conference in the NCAA.  So when Suh is mentioned as the best defensive tackle in the game people get suspicious.

How could Suh be better than Terrence Cody?  Cody, the outstanding Defensive Tackle for the Alabama Crimson Tide is a force to be reckoned with to be sure, but he is not the athlete that Suh is.

Look at the statistics listed above for Ndamukong Suh, take them all in:  Forty-four tackles, five sacks, a forced fumble, ten tackles for loss, and eight pass break ups with one interception

This all coming while being double and triple teamed against primarily passing offenses.  Oh, and did I mention two blocked field goals, and twelve quarterback hurries as well?

Terrence Cody’s statistics don’t even compare:  Total tackles: Cody has accrued only seventeen, tackles for loss only five, he has no sacks, two pass break ups and no interceptions.  He has two blocked field goals, but zero forced fumbles and only two quarterback hurries. 

Yes, I understand that Terrence Cody is not an every down defensive tackle.  And some may say that if he was he would be just as, if not more, dominant than Ndamukong Suh.

My question for those people are these: Does Terrence drop back into coverage or line up as a full back?  Does Terrence Cody run down running backs from ten yards down the field?  And finally, does Terrence Cody have the ability to contain and run down Tyrod Taylor?

Sure he is a man you have to account for but he won’t take over a game like Suh will, and teams don’t have to game plan for him like teams do for Suh.

There really is no comparison when you look at the statistics.  Ndamukong Suh is the most dominant interior lineman in the game right now. 

Judge for yourself which defensive tackle you would rather have on your team.  Just to make it easy, here are their statistical lines for their careers below, followed by a comparison of Ndamukong Suh’s most productive years compared to Cody’s:

Ndamukong Suh: 174 tackles (43 for loss), 16 sacks, 4 INTs (2 TD), 13 Pass Break-ups, 25 QB hurries, 3 Forced Fumbles, 5 Blocked Kicks, 1 Receptions 2 yards (TD)

Terrence Cody: 38 tackles (9.5 for loss), 0.5 sacks, 2 Pass Break-ups, 4 QB Hurries, 1 Forced Fumble, 2 Blocked Kicks.

The numbers don’t even come close to comparing.  Of course these statistics are based on four years of starting for Suh and only two for Terrence Cody, but if you only put together Suh’s last two seasons the numbers would look like this:

120 tackles (29 for loss), 11.5 sacks, 3 INTs (2 Tds), 11 Pass Break-ups, 19 QB Hurries, 2 Forced Fumbles, 4 Blocked Kicks, and a reception for two yards and a touchdown.

Cody still pails in comparison.

I’ve already gone through this season’s statistics.  Ndamukong’s presence alone on a defensive line is impossible to stop.  Teams don’t game-plan around Terrence Cody or Gerald McCoy, teams in the Big 12 do game plan around Ndamukong Suh.

Say what you want about the conferences, but the athleticism and the numbers speak for themselves.  Ndamukong Suh is the most feared, respected and dominant defensive lineman in the nation. 

Terrence Cody doesn’t even play every down, so then how could I believe that he is better than Suh who carries his defense up and down the field, and in some cases the offense too!

Ndamukong Suh is not only the best interior lineman in the NCAA he may be the best defender period.  Eric Berry, the best safety in the nation has two fewer pass break-ups and is tied with Suh in interceptions so far this season.

So get to know the boy named Suh and start to love him because this is a name you will soon be hearing about on Sundays.



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