If anything, the defense for Old Dominion will be bringing back a great measure of experience for their first campaign as an FBS program. That's not to say it was perfect: they allowed 34 points and nearly 200 yards rushing, masked by the Monarchs' high-flying offense that scored 42.3 points an outing.
With Bobby Wilder releasing the initial fall depth chart this past Sunday, let's peel back the layers a little and take a look at what's developing at each position. We'll start up front today (ends/tackles) and work our way back to the linebackers and secondary in the next several articles.
Take a look at the two men in the middle for the Monarchs and you'll see that their size pops off the screen (or paper). The starting role at the nose will go to senior Chris Smith (6'2", 302), who slides over from last year's position at DT after the graduation of predecessor Nate Barnes. Smith recorded 26 tackles last year along with a sack as a JUCO transfer. The battle looks to be who will get the most time in the backup role: senior Malik Gumbs (6'1, 283) will also move over to the nose from defensive tackle and will fight redshirt sophomore Galen Evans (6'3", 319) for playing time behind Smith. Gumbs played in seven games last year, while Evans redshirted his true sophomore year due to injury after a strong freshman campaign, so his recovery will play a part in how much playing time he receives in back of Smith.
Moving to the tackle position provides us with an interesting battle: the sophomore, Rashaad Coward (6'6", 319), going up against the redshirt freshman, Bunmi Rotimi (6'4", 281). Coward recorded thirteen tackles in ten games in 2013 and has the obvious edge in experience and size, but apparently the coaches have liked what they have seen from Rotimi during camp. I'd imagine that freshmen Torrez Wentz and Pat Toal will be redshirted unless Coward, Rotimi or redshirt freshman Jai Franklin go down.
The ends look to be set barring any last minute surprises. Junior Andrew Everett, who made 31 tackles a year ago, appears to have one spot sewn up and will have sophomore Scott Wiggins behind him. Wiggins showed an ability to get to the quarterback in his freshman year, registering two sacks, so the staff has the chance to take advantage of his speed off the line and should utilize him greatly. The other end position is developing into a good battle. Redshirt senior Preston Smith had 28 tackles and two sacks last season as a defensive tackle, but moves back over to end, the position he played for his first two seasons. But Jude Brenya's pushing him for the most playing time, and that's noteworthy considering the true sophomore played just eight games last season. I'd also expect to see redshirt sophomore Terrell Reed (31 tackles, 3.0 sacks in 2013) get some time in at end throughout the year.