4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE OHIO DEFENSE
– The offense gets all the glory, but the defense that wasn’t all that bad gets seven starters back after a great year against the run. Considering the turnover on the offensive side, the defense has to do even more.
– Leading tackler Evan Croutch is done from the linebacking corps, but 230-pound Jared Dorsa is back after tying for third on the team in stops. Veterans Dylan Conner and Eric Popp are veterans ready to fill in, but Croutch is a huge loss on the weakside.
– Both tackles are done, but the senior combination of Cole Baker and Brian Arp is more than capable of stepping in and producing. The ends – sophomore Amos Ogun-Semore and junior Will Evans – are back, but they have to get into the backfield more. Overall, the pass rush has to improve.
– If safety Javon Hagan isn’t the best defensive player in the conference, the all-star safety will be the leader and star of the secondary again, and the corners are back to make the pass defense stronger. With a little help from a better pass rush, the combination of Jamal Hudson and Marlin Brooks will be all-star caliber.