4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE TULANE DEFENSE
– The defense that turned into one of the best in the nation at getting to the quarterback will be even better up front. The Green Wave finished second in the AAC against the run and dominated in the backfield with 41 sacks. They went with a youth movement with four underclassmen starters up front, and now comes the payoff.
Junior Patrick Johnson is the star of the show, but he’s not alone. Cameron Sample is a 280-pound pass rusher on the outside, DeAndre Williams is a 290-pound all-star-caliber tackle, and there’s good depth to rotate in.
– Leading tackler Zachary Harris is gone from the linebacking corps, but Marvin Moody is a solid-tackling 225-pound junior who came up with 71 tackles, and senior Lawrence Graham finished fourth on the team with 61 stops. It’s not a deep group, but in the 4-2-5 alignment, there’s enough to be okay early on behind the great line.
– Three of the five starters return to a secondary that came up with 12 picks, but gave up 260 yards per game. One of the missing pieces, though – Donnie Lewis – came up with three of the interceptions, and no one else got more than one. One of the other parts is S Roderic Teamer, and he finished second on the team with 72 tackles.
PJ Hall is a good veteran at one safety job, and junior CB Jaylon Monroe came up seven broken up passes and has the speed to start doing more.