Now, a look at our 2005 defense. We have to replace several key players on this side of the ball, including some All-Conference honorees.
(39/39), undersized but tough as nails, returns at one DE and hopes for an injury-free senior year. Farr
(39/39) was a devastating pass rush specialist last year, and he'll be counted on for every-down duty in '05. We'll miss All-Conference star Juan Carter
here, big time. Houck
(12/27) is a long way from being ready, and Edwards
(10/42) has potential, but his academic issues are keeping him off the field.
We're going to run a 3-4 base defense again this year, with Houston
(22/22) at nose tackle. He's the best of a poor lot of options, with Bycroft
(13/35) also not quite ready for prime time.
One of the freshmen, Duffy
(23/35) or Earhart
(19/41) will need to start at OLB. Duffy is more polished right now, but Earhart has real potential as a run destroyer. Gritty little Wason
(36/38), whom I like a lot, returns on the other flank.
(28/33), who battled injuries last season, and Weaver
(24/25), who played a good bit on passing downs, give us two seniors at ILB.
(9/40) and Farrell
(13/52) have promise, and they'll be important reserves this year.
The task of replacing Ray Roberson
will fall to first year Jordan
(14/49), who shows signs of being a shutdown corner one day. Truitt
(18/46), who held his own as a freshman last year, returns at the other corner, and he will cover the other team's most dangerous threat.
Our three best safeties all graduated, leaving us with unproven Ross
(25/36) and Coles
(24/40) to hold the fort this season. They were on the field for a combined total of 66 defensive plays in '04. In a perfect world, Quinn
(9/49) would redshirt, but I'm not sure I can afford that luxury.
On paper, our defense will fall short of the standard established by last season's unit, which was led by a number of seniors.