4. Northern Illinois College Football Preview 2021: Defense
– The defense was fantastic on third downs. That’s the positive – and then there was everything else. The run defense wasn’t anything special, there wasn’t enough of a pass rush, and the pass D allowed 245 yards per game. However, like the offense, this was a really, really young group, and now ten starters are back.
– How much talent is returning? There’s a strong chance – the transfer portal might have something to do with it – that 20 of the 21 top tacklers return. There has to be more production to go along with the experience, and the pass rush has to come from somewhere with 11 sacks spread out among ten players. DT Weston Kramer is gone, and there isn’t a ton of bulk on the defensive front, but again, there’s enough experience for a decent rotation.
– The secondary should be a whole lot stronger. Leading tackler and All-MAC talent Jordan Gandy is back at one corner spot, and Devin Lafayette returns at safety coming off a 36-tackle – second on the team – season. All-MAC linebacker Kyle Pugh is a senior returning for another year on the outside, and 6-2, 227-pound Nick Rattin is back on the inside.