4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BALL STATE DEFENSE
– The defense returns nine starters, and now it has to be a whole lot better after finishing 11th in the conference allowing 450 yards and 32 points per game. The improvement starts with a great linebacking corps that’s deep, experienced, and productive with all the starters back and a few good other options.
Everything will work around the all-star combination of Ray Wilborn and Christian Albright on the outside, but there will be a good rotation of parts including 230-pounders Jacob White and Jaylin Thomas on the inside.
– The defensive front didn’t do enough to get behind the line – the linebackers did too much pass rushing heavy lifting. Two starters are back with Shannon Hall at one end and 274-pound Chris Crumb back at tackle. There isn’t a ton of bulk on the inside, but there’s enough to hold up a bit better.
– Considering there wasn’t much of a pass rush, the secondary wasn’t all that bad. Antonio Phillips is a decent-tackling corner who came up with two picks, and the safety combination of Bryce Cosby and Brett Anderson can make a ton of tackles. Now the whole group has to come up with a few more broken up passes.