2010 Spring Football Preview - Defense
After ten years it is clear that FAU is one of the most successful startup programs in history. This begs the question: “What now?” Can FAU take the next step and become a team that is consistently at the top of its conference and able to compete with BCS teams? Perhaps, but it will not be this year. Predictions regarding the team’s success will have to wait until after spring practices are complete, but too many questions remain, especially on the defensive side, to believe that this team will be at the top of the Sun Belt in 2010.
The defense, recovering from a season in which they were at the bottom of FBS in nearly every category, has a lot to prove in 2010. Major question marks remain from last season despite returning nine (9) starters, and may be exacerbated by the adjustment to a new coach in the defensive backfield and a new, yet familiar, defensive coordinator. The hope, of course, is that this unit will be able to come together behind its experienced players, guided by a new coaching philosophy, to turn around its reputation from last year. This will not be easy. The statistics from 2009 are stark:
- 106th in points allowed per game(33.8 )
- 112th in yards allowed per game (453.2)
- 118th in opponent passing percentage (67.4%)
- 78th in passing yards allowed per game (232.6)
- Last in interceptions (5)
- 118th in yards per rush allowed (6.1)
- 114th in rushing yards allowed per game (220.6)
It might be easy to blame the defensive woes entirely on the rush defense, which admittedly was bad, but this would not be the entire picture. Although the defensive backfield gave up a slightly worse than average 232.6 yards per game, there are significant issues about how they did it. The fact that opponent were able to tally an impressive 67.4% completion rate is absurd. The five (5) best defenses have opponent completion percentages under 50%. Mediocre teams keep opponents under 60%. The Owls managed to approach 70% and were only slightly better than Tulane (67.6%) and Western Kentucky (67.8%). Add to this the fact that the entire defense managed only five (5) interceptions in 2009 and it becomes clear that new defensive backs coach Dick Hopkins will have his hands full this spring.
If the defense is able to improve, even modestly to around 80th in the nation in the stats listed, fans would notice marked changes on the field, and a few close L's should become W's.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the offense and special teams.