4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE RUTGERS DEFENSE
– Five of the top seven tacklers are done and six starters have to be replaced from a defense that had little to no pass rush – generating just 16 sacks – but allowed a not-that-miserable 401 yards and 31 points per game. The offense provided absolutely zero help whatsoever, but the D improved enough to allow 20 points or fewer in three of the last five games.
– The linebackers were a strength with Trevor Morris and Deonte Roberts combining for 196 tackles, but they’re done. Junior Tyreek Maddox-Williams came up with 47 stops at an outside spot, and the middle will be fine with 240-pound Tyshon Fogg a thumper who’s ready for a bigger role. Michigan transfer Drew Singleton is eligible to play right away – he’ll find a gig on the outside.
– The defensive line has to be a whole lot better. It got hammered on too easily against the run and didn’t generate a pass rush even with experience and size at all four spots. Willington Previlon will be a key to the defense on the inside along with 282-pound junior Julius Turner, who made 33 tackles on the nose.
Elorm Lumor is back on the outside after leading the way with seven tackles for loss, and as long as there’s a bit more production at getting to the quarterback …
– There’s promise in the secondary. Losing S Saquon Hampton and CB Isaiah Wharton isn’t a plus, but Avery Young is a potential all-star at one corner after finishing third on the team with 67 stops as a freshman. Senior Damon Hayes is a solid option on the other side, but if he’s at corner, the safety jobs have to be locked down by underclassmen in fall camp.