4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE UTAH STATE DEFENSE
– The offense might have lost most of the top guys, but seven starters return to a defense that allowed 380 yards and 22 points per game. The pass rush was good, the run defense was terrific, and the secondary was among the best in the Mountain West.
– Three of the top four and six of the top nine tacklers are gone, but the linebacking corps should be okay with the return of 131-tackle star David Woodward on the inside and with top pass rusher Tipa Galeai playing a hybrid edge rusher role on the outside. The former TCU transfer will end up working on one end, and a mix of veterans – likely starting with senior Jacoby Wildman – will add bulk on the other.
– The tackles will be terrific. 295-pound Christopher Unga is a rock on the nose, and he’s not alone. It’s a very deep, good sized group in the interior to mix up alignments a bit more – the bulk is in place to run a true 4-3.
– The corner combination of DJ Williams and Cameron Haney will be among the Mountain West’s best, unless Williams moves to one of the safety gigs. JUCO transfer Cash Gilliam is almost certain to get the call at one safety job, and overall it’s a deep secondary that will mix and match parts throughout fall camp to get the best four or five options on the field.