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If there is one thing that FAU' defense has, it's a sense of familiarity.
The Owl's will travel to Miami on Friday night with almost their entire defensive two-deep intact from last season. Senior Adarius Glanton is slated to start at linebacker for the second straight year, but he's just the tip of experience on that side of the ball.
Cornerback Keith Reaser will be starting the 28th game of his career, while linebacker Randell Johnson will be starting his 21st.
"This group on defense has been playing together since last fall. We really have come together and just stayed together, from the defensive line to the linebackers to the secondary," Glanton (pictured) said.
Gone from the Owl's is linebacker David Hinds, but outside of him, the defense returns almost every player from last year's 3-7 squad along with a bevy of newcomers that are expected to contribute right away.
Defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis says he's relying heavily on the unit's exposure and feels that the defense is in a favorable position to produced better results
"Most of them have 12 games under their belt, so hopefully they make another step forward," Rekstis said.
Having played teams such as Alabama and Georgia last season, Rekstis believes that the defenses's biggest issues came when they collapsed and surrendered a big play.
"The weakness of our defense last year was giving up explosion plays and we have got to stop that," Rekstis said. "Whether that's through the run or the pass, that's the first thing I told them when we started preparing for Miami last week. We can't give up explosion plays and we have to tackle – that's the keys to our success."
Glanton, Johnson and linebacker Andrae Kirk all worked together in the offseason and have developed a sense of comfort on the playing field with each other. The three will be tasked with slowing down a Miami run game that leans heavily on running back Duke Johnson, while Reaser and the secondary will try and cork an NFL-caliber quarterback in Stephen Morris.
"They're not limited at all, they have a lot of things they can do," Glanton said. "We just have to do our job and take it one play at a time."
After Wednesday's practice Rekstis commented on some of injuries surrounding the defense.
Glanton is a full-go while the status of defensive end Martin Wright and nickleback Cre'von LeBlanc remains unclear. Wright was dressed in pads on Wednesday for the first time in a few weeks, as LeBlanc wore a green no-contact jersey.
"Those are probably going to be game time decisions," Retskis said of the two. "It' wouldn't take much for them to play."