4. College Football News Preview 2020: East Carolina Pirates Defense 3 Things To Know
– Blake Harrell comes in from Kennesaw State to try getting something out of the nation’s 119th-best defense. The pass defense was bad, the run defense worse, and overall the D allowed 469 yards and 34 points per game. It all starts with getting more out of the defensive front.
The big problem is the size – there isn’t much.
This isn’t a bulky front four, but there weren’t enough plays in the backfield or activity against the run. Top pass rusher Kendall Futrell is gone, and now it’s up to 6-4, 233-pound senior Chance Purvis to become a more of a threat on the outside.
There’s going to be a rotation on the inside, but the tackles are around 270ish pounds – there isn’t a 320-pound Coke machine to gum things up.
– The linebacking corps went young, and now the sophomores of last season should grow into bigger producers. At least that’s the hope with the entire two-deep expected back.
There might not be size on the line, but 244-pound junior Xavier Smith brings some thump on the inside of the linebacking corps. He led the team with 81 stops, and corner-sized Gerard Stringer is a hitter on the outside. On the way is former Oklahoma super-recruit Ryan Jones – he’ll be eligible right away on the inside.
– The pass defense has to be a whole lot better. The offensive side came up with the big yards, and the ECU secondary was too quick to give them right back – at least at times – giving up over 400 yards three times and a total of 20 touchdown passes in the last six games.
Almost everyone is back, starting with rising star true sophomore Ja’Quan McMillian at one corner, and with Alabama’s Nigel Knott a monster get for the other side – if he can stay healthy. Duke transfer Isaiah Kemp will be a factor in the near future.
71-tackle Davondre Robinson is back at one safety job, but sixth-leading tackler Daniel Charles is in the transfer portal. Redshirt freshman Juan Powell has the upside to be a statistical star.