What You Need To Know About The Rice Defense
– Brian Smith takes over the defensive coordinator job after working with the Michigan secondary over the last few years. He takes over a D that can get behind the line, but struggle just about everywhere else.
The top five tacklers are gone – not helped by the early departure of safety J.T. Ibe – but there’s a little bit of hope right away in the secondary, where the safety tandem of Martin Nwakamma and Brandon Douglas-Dotson form a veteran presence to start with. Getting back starting corners Brandon Douglas-Dotson and D’Angelo Ellis will help.
– Defensive end Preston Gordon is gone after finishing eighth on the team in tackles – he decided to transfer – but Zach Abercrumbia is a decent-sized nose tackle, and Roe Wilkins might just be the team’s best returning defender.
There isn’t a sure-thing 4-3 pass rusher – depending on what alignment the Owls are running – but compared to the rest of the defense, the linebacking corps, the line has the potential to be a relative positive.
– The back seven – or eight – loses top tackler Emmanuel Ellerbee from the middle and the most disruptive playmaker, Brian Womac, on the outside. It’s a really, really, really thin linebacking corps without a sure-thing group of starters, and no depth.
Biggest Key To The Rice Defense
At some point, a takeaway would be nice. Forced mistakes were a problem for years, and them came last season with a nation-low six takeaways. Three fumble recoveries, three interceptions – that’s it.
The Owls came up with one turnover over the last five outings, and never generated two and game. Considering all of the other problems team-wide, Rice can’t be so miserable in turnover margin again.