4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE CENTRAL MICHIGAN DEFENSE
– The defense wasn’t bad. It finished second in the MAC overall, allowing 355 yards and 27 points per game, but now it has to replace almost all of the stars. Leading tackler Malik Fountain is gone from the linebacking corps. Top pass rusher Mike Danna transferred to Michigan, and the lightning-fast defensive backs Sean Bunting and Xavier Crawford are off to the NFL, but …
– The secondary is okay. The corners need to rise up and rock right away – this might be the D’s biggest early concern – but the safety tandem of Devonni Reed and Da’Quan Jamison is good enough to work around. They all need help from a pass rush that will sorely miss Danna. LaQuan Johnson and Robi Stuart should be okay on the inside, but the pass rushers have to emerge.
– Fountain is the big loss for the linebacking corps, but losing Alex Briones hurts, too. This will be a revolving door up until the opener against Albany to find the right starting three, with Michael Oliver is a likely option at one spot – bringing a little bit of size – but this group is going to be young.