Cincinnati Bearcats College Football Preview 2021: Defense
– The defense was fantastic and should be close to the same killer once again. It was No. 1 in the AAC and 13th in the nation allowing just 325 yards and 17 points per game – it didn’t allow more than 13 points over a five game stretch.
There’s just enough missing to be annoying, but overall everything should keep on rolling as long as new defensive coordinator Mike Tressel can replicate what Marcus Freeman put together, and as long as the D can replace …
– The safeties. James Wiggins and Derrick Forrest made a whole lot of plays for this team, and now it’s up to nickel Arquon Bush, the versatile Ja’Von Hicks, and big veteran Bryan Cook to pick up the slack. They all just have to be okay with the corner talent around them.
The combination of Ahmad Gardner and Coby Bryant is among the nation’s best, coming up with seven interceptions and 13 broken up passes between them. If the pass rush can be as solid as it was last year, one of the most efficient pass defenses in college football will keep on going.
– The Bearcats get their pass rusher back. Myjai Sanders is like a big linebacker on the end, coming up with a team high seven sacks with 10.5 tackles for loss. Elijah Ponder might be gone from the other end job, but Malik Vann is a strong veteran and the tackle rotation around Marcus Brown and Virginia transfer Jowon Brigs is outstanding.
Leading tackler Jarell White is gone, but the linebacking corps is more than fine with Darrian Beavers a star on the outside – he was second on the team with 58 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss – and with51-stop Joel Dubianko doing the dirty work on the inside.