4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SOUTH ALABAMA DEFENSE
– The defense that had a nightmare of a time against the run and allowed 449 yards and 39 points per game has to replace three of the top four tacklers and seven starters, but the talent is there on the line to do far, far more to get into then backfield.
Tyree Turner has the upside to be the Sun Belt’s best 3-technique defensive end, and Jordon Beaton and Sean Brown are veteran 300-pounders on the inside. There’s talent, depth and experience – there’s no excuse for this group to not be far, far better.
– Blame injuries for the problems in the linebacking corps last season. Riley Cole was coming off a strong freshman season, but got hurt early on and saw time in just four games. Roy Yancey got on the field once, and others were banged up, too. On the plus side, some young parts were thrown to the wolves, and now Nick Mobley is the team’s leading returning tackler after making 56 stops.
– The secondary could use help from more of a pass rush, and it has to start coming up with more picks and big plays. Leading tackler Nigel Lawrence is gone at one safety spot, but Tre Young is a good-looking JUCO transfer who’ll play a big role. Jalen Thompson is back at one corner after leading the team with three picks and coming up with 34 tackles, and DJ Daniels returns at one safety spot after coming up with 41 stops.