4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE WESTERN MICHIGAN DEFENSE
– It’s not like everyone is back on the WMU D, but 13 of the top 14 tackles and eight starters return. Now the experience has to turn into production after struggling against the better passing teams and getting rumbled on against the run a bit too often.
– The defense revolves around a pair of 6-1, 220-pound senior linebackers. Drake Spears led the team with 86 tackles, Alex Grace ended up with 83, and sophomore Corvin Moment is a 245-pound thumper rising up on the inside. Now …
– The line has to hold up a bit better and it needs to get into the backfield more. There isn’t musth star power up front, but 6-2, 240-pound junior Ali Fayad can get behind the line, and 275-pound DT Ralph Holley is a quick interior pass rushing problem. There isn’t a ton of bulk, but there’s good depth and there should be a decent rotation at all four spots.
– The pass rush has to improve to help the cause, but the secondary has to use its experience to start doing more. WR D’Wayne Eskridge might be a factor at one corner, but senior Stefan Claiborne is a 6-2 tackler at one spot.
The safety tandem of Justin Tranquill and AJ Thomas can hit, but they have to make more plays when the ball is in the air. There’s depth at safety, but the corners need work.