Ruthless and relentless: Argo defense makes waves in Gulf South Conference
by Christian Skewes
Aggressive, relentless and determined: this is how opposing offenses describe the UWF defense. Ever since the 2019 season kicked off the West Florida defense have been ruthless against their opponents, leaving everything out on the field.
Lead by third year defensive coordinator Darian Dulin, the Argo starting 11 has been one of the best defensive units in the GSC thus far. Under his guidance, the team has held their opponents to less than 250 yards of total offense six times in two seasons and has forced at least one turnover in 23 out of 26 games.
Before arriving at UWF coach Dulin was the defensive coordinator and special teams coach at Abilene Christian University for five seasons. There he coached 10 players with all-conference honors and helped the Wildcats win 24 games.
“Coach Dulin is an energetic and aggressive coach,” Nickelback Trent Archie said. “He likes to run his defense with pride and doesn’t settle for average. He asks the defense for hard work and dedicated practice so when it comes to game time we are more confident in our abilities against other teams.”
West Florida runs a traditional 3-4 defensive front but in the past they have changed into heavier sets depending on who they’re facing. On average they allow 10.5 points a game and manage to stop their opponents on 65 percent of third down situations.
“To play lights out is really something we work hard for,” Archie said. “And honestly I don’t even feel like we are playing for ourselves but that we’re playing for our brothers next to us on the battlefield.”
A standout unit for the Argo defense is their defensive line. Led by redshirt senior defensive end Ty Cox, the defense has allowed six rushing touchdowns this season thus far and only 144 rushing yards a game.
“Our defensive line is essential to our success,” Archie said. “They really hold that front line that makes teams hesitant to run against us.”
Archie continued, “They have a really strong presence in pass rushing and keep the quarterback in a panic. That forces him to make quick passes that our secondary can act on and make a play on.”
Known for their tough playstyle and demeanor, the West Florida defense has all of their teammate’s respect and recognition.
“They just keep their head down and grind,” senior wide receiver Quentin Randolph said. “We have a great defensive leader in Andre Duncombe; he keeps the morale and energy up for the whole defense.”
For the 2019 season thus far Duncombe has amassed four tackles for loss, eight solo tackles and one sack.
“He’s a strong leader for our defense,” Archie said. “He can really bring out the fight in everybody and will push the defense to keep going through hard times.”
Archie and redshirt sophomore linebacker Chandler Ferguson are also ring leaders for the defense. For the 2019 season Archie has amassed 15 solo tackles, four sacks and three forced fumbles. Ferguson has 10 solo and 27 assisted tackles: leading the team in this statistical category.
The Argo secondary is a group that has only gotten better and better as the season progressed. As a unit they have picked off six interceptions and have only allowed two passing touchdowns.
With the help of their defensive line and linebackers forcing their opponent’s quarterback to get the pass off quicker than expected, the West Florida secondary are a battle-tested stout and true unit.
“I’ve seen a big improvement every game from our DB’s,” Archie said. “They finally got in their groove and haven’t let up; I trust any single defensive back any day in a one on one situation for a game winner.”
With two-thirds of the regular season done and over with, the UWF defense are excited to finish strong and push through to post-season play.
“Honestly it feels great (to have back to back dominant game performances),” Archie said. “The defense has really showed up in the past two games against conference teams but we aren’t satisfied with the results and are always hungry for more.”