What You Need To Know About The USF Defense
– Defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary is back after helping USF lead the AAC in total and scoring D. Having a defensive coaching star of a head make like Charlie Strong helps the cause, too.
The pass rush was dominant, leading the conference in tackles for loss and sacks, and now the top three guys are gone including Mike Love from the outside, and Bruce Hector and Deadrin Senat on the inside.
Greg Reaves led the team in tackles for loss as the star at one end, but the inside will likely go way young with a slew of freshmen the most talented tackles – potentially. No matter what, the pressure will still be there from all angles.
– Leading tackler Auggie Sanchez is gone from the linebacking corps, but there’s still enough talent returning to help out a front six that loses so much off the D line. Nico Sawtelle will likely move over from his weakside spot to take over for Sanchez in the middle – he should be the leading tackler, or close to it – and Khalid McGee should see time as an undersized option if he doesn’t stick at safety. It’ll be a young group of linebackers, but it’ll move.
– The strength of the defense will be in the secondary – at least early on – with Mazzi Wilkins back at one corner, Ronnie Hoggins going from being a solid corner to replace Deatrick Nichols as the Nickel, and with Jaymon Thomas the main man at safety.
Interceptions are a must after losing nine of the 15 generated by the secondary, including three from Nichols and five from former strong safety Devin Abraham. 16-tackle Nate Ferguson will get a long look as an undersized option to replace Abraham.
Biggest Key To The USF Defense
Find new big-time playmakers. The No. 1 D in the league has to be great again with way too many new parts. Auggie Sanchez didn’t just lead the team in tackles, but he came up with two pick-sixes, too. Deadrin Senat was a killer in the backfield from the inside of the line and Deatrick Nichols was a difference-maker at safety. There might be a lot of young talents to work with, but last season’s defense made a big jump up in production.