4. College Football News Preview 2020: Florida Atlantic Owls Defense 3 Things To Know
– Willie Taggart nailed his defensive coordinator hire getting Jim Leavitt to take over. The former USF head coach and Oregon defensive coordinator followed Taggart to Florida State, and now to FAU.
The defense that allowed 374 yards and was great against the run, but allowed 239 yards per game through the air is going to need a DC of Leavitt’s talent to put it all together.
– The defensive front gets back good pass rusher Leighton McCarthy – who’ll likely work as a hybrid linebacker … and that’s about it. The next seven Owl linemen in tackles for loss are gone.
There should be some help from the transfer portal, and the incoming JUCO transfers should play a big role, but this is going to take a bit to put together.
– Star LB Rashad Smith is done, second-leading tackler Akileis Leroy is a question mark after making 101 stops – he’s not listed on the roster, and fourth-leading tackler Hosea Barnwell is in the transfer portal.
233-pound senior Caliph Brice is back after making 28 stops, and the recruiting class and transfer world will fill out the spots no matter what.
The secondary has some work to do, too.
Senior Zyon Gilbert is an all-star caliber safety, but everyone else has to be replaced – losing 9-pick all-star CB Meiko Dotson to Florida State really stings. Former Alabama transfer Chris Herring needs to rise up into a safety job, and like everywhere else on the defensive side, the new guys have to emerge.