4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MIAMI UNIVERSITY DEFENSE
– Seven starters are back from a defense that allowed 368 yards and 25.5 points. However, four of the top seven tacklers are done, hurt mostly by the loss of leading tackler Brad Koenig at one linebacker spot and third-leading tackler De’Andre Montgomery at safety. However …
– The secondary should be a plus. It wasn’t a brick wall last season allowing 209 yards per game, but it welcomes back three starters including the senior corner tandem of Zedrick Raymond and Travion Banks.
They need to pick off more passes, but they’re good enough to get by. 6-1, 211-pound Mike Brown is a hybrid hitter with 58 tackles – he’s the leading returning tackler – and Bart Baratti can fit into the mix somewhere after coming up with 40 stops.
– The defensive front four will be a strength, but there needs to be more of a pass rush and it has to be a bit stronger against the run. Senior Doug Costin is the team’s top defensive star on the nose, coming up with six sacks serving as an anchor up front. Junior Ben Kimpler is the most experienced end, but he’s just an okay pass rusher, and 229-pound Cam Turner is a smallish quick option on the other side.
– Losing Koenig from the middle is a killer, but the outside defenders should be good. For the most part, Brown – or anyone playing the nickel role – in the 4-2-5 will serve as another linebacker option, but senior Myles Reid should be among the team’s leading tacklers again, and 231-pound hybrid safety/linebacker Kobe Burse will find a bigger role.
On the inside in place of Koenig will either be Reid or Ryan McWood, a part of the rotation last season who’ll need to be a big hitter somewhere in teh corps.