What You Need To Know About The Arkansas State Defense
– The defense had to simply be okay last year and let the offense do the work. It was fine, allowing 378 yards and 26 points per game, but now it only gets back five starters including five of the top ten tacklers. However, there’s more than enough overall talent returning to be good enough – again, all it has to do is hold serve so the other side can do the work.
– The incredible pass rush of last season loses Sun Belt superstar Ja’Von Rolland Jones from one end and Caleb Caston on the other, but there’s still plenty of help back up front. Ronheen Bingham is built like Rolland-Jones with the upside to be the new big-time pass rusher, and despite the loss of Dee Liner, the interior should be sound with a good rotation for the two spots.
– Mostly using a 4-2-5 alignment, ASU has to replace leading tackler Kyle Wilson in the middle of the linebacking corps, but gets back Darreon Jackson on the weakside. Just 6-0 and 204 pounds, Jackson isn’t all that big, but he can move and he can hit, coming up with 58 stops last year.
Justin Clifton, B.J. Edmonds and Michael Johnson – and throw Jackson into the mix, too – form a terrific group of safeties that come up with a ton of stops, but both corners have to be replaced. Edmonds led the team with three picks and Johnson came up with two more, but …
Biggest Key To The Arkansas State Defense
The secondary has to stop allowing so many big plays. Corners Blaise Taylor and Kyle Martin were good ones on the outside with all-star skills – they’ll be missed. Even with them, the ASU secondary was torched with ease by anyone who could throw – or, at least, tried.
Nine times the Red Wolves allowed 220 yards or more, getting hit hard over the second half of the season. As long as the secondary is picking off passes, all is fine, and as long as the pass D allows offenses to convert just 51% of their passes again, it’ll be doing its job.