4. College Football News Preview 2020: UMass Minutemen Defense 3 Things To Know
– Nine of the top 13 tacklers are expected back after finishing dead last in the nation in total defense, dead last in rushing defense, and dead last in passing efficiency defense.
It all starts up front with a line that has to start getting into the backfield and has to be a whole lot stronger against the run. Losing tackle Dennis Osagiede to Stephen F. Austin doesn’t help, but 290-pound Billy Wooden and 275-pound Wilson Frederic are back. 6-3, 260-pound senior Jake Byczco returns on the end – he made 34 tackles – but the pass rush mainly comes from the linebackers.
– Junior Chinedu Ogbonna led the team in sacks – he came up with a grand total of two, and a team-high nine tackles for loss. He’s back on the outside, and 6-1, 235-pound senior Cole McCubrey is back on the inside after leading the team with 84 stops.
Senior Mike Ruane takes back his spot on the outside after finishing second with 66 tackles, and 5-11, 190-pound junior Xavier Steele is back inside coming off a 42-stop season.
– The secondary that had such a hard time didn’t get any help from the pass rush, but it still needs more big plays overall. Josh Wallace is a decent-sized corner who made 33 stops with a pick, safety Logan Darby should be one of the team’s top tacklers, and and sophomore Elijah Johnson should play a much bigger role at another safety spot.