4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE OLD DOMINION DEFENSE
– The defense is undergoing a few tweaks. New defensive coordinator David Blackwell will keep the 4-2-5 alignment, but he’s got a LOT of work to do to improve Conference USA’s worst defense that allowed 471 yards and 36 points per game …
– It starts with getting nastier against the run. Five of the top seven tacklers are done, and three starters have to be replaced up front. Junior Jeremy Meiser is back at one tackle spot, and several hybrid players/linebackers are in the mix for the end jobs, but there’s no quick fix for the loss of Oshane Ximines at one end.
– The two linebackers are there in the 4-2-5. Leading tackler Lawrence Garner is back in the middle, and third-leading tackler Jordan Young returns to one outside gig. JUCO transfers Cory Jackson and Tony Williams have the speed and athleticism to play a variety of roles, including as the pass rusher the new scheme needs.
– The secondary needs work at safety, but the corner situation has experience. Lance Boykin and Joe Joe Headen took their lumps, and now they have to start making the pass defense something more than a disaster. JUCO transfers R’Tarriun Johnson and Harrell Blackmon have to play instant roles at safety around several young parts with good size, and not enough experience.