4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FLORIDA ATLANTIC DEFENSE
– The defense struggled throughout last season, finishing 88th in the nation allowing 427 yards and 32 points per game. The pressure and pass rush weren’t awful, but the run defense struggled, and the secondary didn’t come up with enough big plays. Just six of the top 12 tacklers return, but …
– There are just enough good enough players to work around to hope for an improvement. Start up front, where the tackle combination of Kevin McCrary, William Davis and Marcel Southall should at least be experience on the inside. 225-pound Tim Bonner and 205-pound Leighton McCarthy might not be big, but they can move on the ends.
– The D works around leading tackler Rashad Smith at one linebacker spot, but the rest of the corps has to rely on a slew of young players who have a little experience and can move. There’s not much in the way of returning playmaking talent in the secondary, but James Pierre is a good-sized corner who finished fourth on the team with 55 tackles, and Zyon Gilbert is a decent-tackling veteran. Now everyone has to pick off and break up more passes.