AN EARLY LOOK AT IOWA FOOTBALL'S 2014 OPPONENTS: DEFENSE PART I

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

By now, you've looked at Iowa Football's 2014 schedule. But let's look at it a little closer.

WE'VE PREVIEWED THE OFFENSES. If you missed either of those posts, here's part one and part two.

NORTHERN IOWA (7-5)

2013 TOTAL DEFENSE RANK (FCS): #19

2013 SCORING DEFENSE RANK (FCS): #8

2013 PASSING DEFENSE RANK (FCS): #37

2013 RUSHING DEFENSE RANK (FCS): #29

2013 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANK: #137 (Sagarin)

2013 DEFENSIVE STATS:

NORTHERN IOWA (12 Games)


RUSH DEFENSE 474 att 1579 yds 3.33 yds/att 9 Td 11 fum 131.6 yds/game
PASS DEFENSE 217 comp 391 att 2435  yds 15 Td 11 Int 202.9 yds/game
TOTAL DEFENSE 865 plays 4014 yds 4.64 yds/play 24 Tds 22 to 334.5 yds/game

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS. The Panthers were mighty tough against the run and that 3.33 yards per attempt stands out. In their toughest two games, Iowa State rushed for 168 yards on 44 carries (3.8 yds/att) and North Dakota State 260 yards on 55 attempts (4.7 yds/att). UNI held both to 21 and 24 points. They surrendered over 30 points only twice on the season and both of those games went to double overtime.

KEY LOSSES/RETURNING STARTERS. UNI loses both of their starting defensive ends from 2013. Collin Albrect was a second team all-MVC performer. At linebacker they also lose two. Jordan Gacke was also named to the all-MVC second team.

They'll return first team all-conference defensive tackle Xavier Williams and second team all-conference defensive back Makinton Deloreant. Williams collected 74 tackles and 5.5 sacks while Deloreant had one interception and four pass break-ups. Linebackers Max Busher (75 tackles), Jake Farley (56 tackles) and defensive back Ray Mitchell (4 INTs) also return for their senior season. The Panther defense will be loaded with upperclassmen. Brett McMakin and Jamison Whiting are the lone sophomores in the top 11.

NAME TO WATCH: Defensive back Ray Buchanan

BALL STATE (10-3)

2013 TOTAL DEFENSE RANK: #77

2013 SCORING DEFENSE RANK: #47

2013 PASSING DEFENSE RANK: #44T

2013 RUSHING DEFENSE RANK: #92

2013 FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS EFFICIENCY RANK: #85

2013 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANK: #140 (Sagarin)

2013 DEFENSIVE STATS:

BALL STATE (13 GAMES)


RUSH DEFENSE 532  att 2539 yds 4.77 yds/att 22 Td 18 fum 195.3 yds/game
PASS DEFENSE 265 comp 433 att 2841  yds 14 Td 13 Int 218.5 yds/game
TOTAL DEFENSE 965 plays 5380 yds 5.58 yds/play 36 Tds 31  to 413.8 yds/game

QUICK STATISTICAL ANALYSIS. Ball State was much better against the pass than the run. They forced 31 turnovers and that 18 fumbles means they are coached to strip the ball. Opponents in the MAC like to play up-tempo and the play totals reflect that.

KEY LOSSES/RETURNING STARTERS. Ball State loses three defensive linemen from last year's squad. Nathan Ollie and Jonathan Newsome combined for 95 tackles and 21.5 sacks. Newsome earned first team all-MAC honors and Ollie was named to the second team. They also lose linebacker Kenneth Lee (32 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and defensive back Jeffery Garrett (45 tackles, 5 INTs). Garrett was second team all-MAC.

They return Nick Miles and Tracey Key on the defensive line. Both played in all 13 games last season and totaled 36.5 tackles combined. Second team all-MAC linebacker Ben Ingle returns (79.5 tackles). There's also Zach Ryan, Sean Wiggins and Avery Bailey returning for the linebacker corps.

The secondary returns both safeties and one corner (opposite of Garrett). There's depth in the secondary too as five other defensive backs returning played in at least 10 games last season.

NAME TO WATCH: Safety Christopher Calloway

IOWA STATE (3-9)

2013 TOTAL DEFENSE RANK: #105

2013 SCORING DEFENSE RANK: #108

2013 PASSING DEFENSE RANK: #75

2013 RUSHING DEFENSE RANK: #112

2013 FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS EFFICIENCY RANK: #81

2013 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANK: #23 (Sagarin)

2013 DEFENSIVE STATS:

IOWA STATE (12 GAMES)


RUSH DEFENSE 502  att 2688 yds 5.35 yds/att 33 Td 13 fum 224.0 yds/game
PASS DEFENSE 232 comp 415 att 2630 yds 19 Td 8 Int 219.2 yds/game
TOTAL DEFENSE 918 plays 5557 yds 6.05 yds/play 50 Tds 21 to 463.1 yds/game

QUICK STATISTICAL ANALYSIS. The Cyclones were equally terrible against the run and the pass. They held only one team last season to under 100 yards rushing (Tulsa). Six teams, or half of their schedule, was able to average over five yards a carry, including FCS Northern Iowa. Against the pass, only two teams (TCU and Kansas) failed to throw for a touchdown.

KEY LOSSES/RETURNING STARTERS. Iowa State loses their top tackler from last season. Jeremiah George was the only Cyclone named to either the first team offense or defense all-Big 12 team. He finished the season with 133 tackles or just over 11 per game. ISU also loses all Big-12 second team defensive back Jacques Washington. He finished 2013 with 119 tackles and two interceptions.

They lose defensive backs Deon Broomfield (57 tackles) and Jansen Watson (29 tackles). The defensive line takes a big hit with Rodney Coe (36 tackles) and David Irving (19 tackles, 2 sacks) dismissed from the team.

The Clones will have senior Corey Morrisey back for his senior season at defensive end. He started 11 games last season. The defense will be led by linebacker Jared Brackens. He's also a senior and has 12 career starts. Brackens finished 2013 with 61 tackles. JeVohn Miller is another senior linebacker with starting experience. He started the last six games of 2013 at will linebacker.

Those are the only seniors. There's junior corner Sam E. Richardson and sophomore Luke Knott returning. After that, Paul Rhoads may dip into his incoming recruiting class for starters and depth. ISU signed 25 in February and expect Rhoads to look for help from that mix of JUCOs and freshmen.

NAME TO WATCH: Defensive end Dalyou Pierson

PITTSBURGH (7-6)

2013 TOTAL DEFENSE RANK: #34

2013 SCORING DEFENSE RANK: #69

2013 PASSING DEFENSE RANK: #44T

2013 RUSHING DEFENSE RANK: #43

2013 FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS EFFICIENCY RANK: #37

2013 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANK: #37 (Sagarin)

2013 DEFENSIVE STATS:

PITTSBURGH (13 GAMES)


RUSH DEFENSE 479  att 1937 yds 4.04 yds/att 19 Td 8 fum 149.0 yds/game
PASS DEFENSE 225 comp 386 att 2841  yds 20 Td 8 Int 218.5 yds/game
TOTAL DEFENSE 865 plays 4778 yds 5.52 yds/play 39 Tds 16 to 367.5 yds/game

QUICK STATISTICAL ANALYSIS. Pitt opened 2013 with Florida State and that game was a nightmare for the Pitt defense. They did hold FSU to under 100 yards rushing but Jameis Winston lit up the Pitt secondary for 377 yards on 27 for 29 passing. The Pitt D did surrender over 200 yards rushing four times to New Mexico, Duke and option offenses Navy and Georgia Tech. Their defense really improved over the course of the season as FSU and a week three meeting with Duke were their worst statistical games.

KEY LOSSES/RETURNING STARTERS. Gone is the best college football defensive tackle to play since Ndamukong Suh. Aaron Donald was a unanimous first team all-American. He won the Outland Trophy, Nagurski Trophy, Bednarik Award, was first team all-ACC and named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. At defensive tackle he recorded 59 tackles, 28.5 tackles for a loss, had 11 sacks, 16 hurries and forced four fumbles.

Pitt also loses Tyron Ezell from the defensive line. He totaled 34 tackles in 13 games last season. Another possible starter recently left the team. Bryan Murphy quit to focus on academics. The Panthers now have to replace three of their four starting DL.

Leading tackler Jason Hendricks (85 tackles) is gone from the secondary. Defensive back K'Waun Williams (36 tackles) is also gone from the defensive backfield. Linebacker Shane Gordon (56 tackles) graduated.

Donald was Pitt's lone all-ACC representative. Ray Vinopal was named honorable mention and he returns to lead the secondary. Vinopal had 83 tackles and three interceptions last season. Linebackers Anthony Gonzalez and Todd Thomas return for their senior season. The duo combined for 151 tackles in 2013.

NAME TO WATCH: Defensive tackle Khaynin Mosley-Smith

PURDUE (1-11)

2013 TOTAL DEFENSE RANK: #104

2013 SCORING DEFENSE RANK: #111

2013 PASSING DEFENSE RANK: #55

2013 RUSHING DEFENSE RANK: #114

2013 FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS EFFICIENCY RANK: #107

2013 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANK: #27 (Sagarin)

2013 DEFENSIVE STATS:

PURDUE (12 GAMES)


RUSH DEFENSE 529  att 2825 yds 5.34 yds/att 28 Td 6 fum 235.4 yds/game
PASS DEFENSE 233 comp 357  att 2694 yds 27 Td 13 Int 224.5 yds/game
TOTAL DEFENSE 886 plays 5519 yds 6.23 yds/play 55 Tds 19 to 459.9 yds/game

QUICK STATISTICAL ANALYSIS. Wow, this team was terrible. Purdue allowed over 300 yards rushing four times last year (Wisconsin, Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana). They held only two teams on their schedule below 300 total yards (Indiana State and Michigan State). Every team but Indiana State and MSU were able to average over five yards per play.

KEY LOSSES/RETURNING STARTERS. Gone is Ricardo Allen, a media second team all-Big Ten selection. Allen recorded 53 tackles and six INTs last year. Linebacker Will Lucas and his 73 tackles depart. Also gone, defensive linemen Bruce Gaston (48 tackles, 3 sacks), Greg Latta (32 tackles, 1 sack) and Ryan Isacc (18 tackles).

Ryan Russell had 35 tackles and the defensive end will be a senior leader. Defensive backs Anthony Brown (69 tackles), Taylor Richards (64 tackles) and Frankie Williams (61 tackles) were all among Purdue's top four tackles last year and return.

Purdue was worst in the Big Ten last season with 14 total sacks. They lose two starters from that defensive line group. Darrell Hazell did bring a new defensive concept and the transformation to the 3-4 will take time.

NAME TO WATCH: Linebacker Joe Gilliam

INDIANA (5-7)

2013 TOTAL DEFENSE RANK: #120

2013 SCORING DEFENSE RANK: #114

2013 PASSING DEFENSE RANK: #118

2013 RUSHING DEFENSE RANK: #115

2013 FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS EFFICIENCY RANK: #106

2013 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANK: #36 (Sagarin)

2013 DEFENSIVE STATS:

INDIANA (12 GAMES)


RUSH DEFENSE 525  att 2853 yds 5.43 yds/att 35 Td 10 fum 237.8 yds/game
PASS DEFENSE 253 comp 415 att 3482  yds 24 Td 7 Int 290.2 yds/game
TOTAL DEFENSE 940 plays 6335 yds 6.74 yds/play 59 Tds 17 to 527.9 yds/game

QUICK STATISTICAL ANALYSIS. And you thought Purdue was bad. Indiana allowed Navy to rush for 444 yards and Wisconsin ran for 554! Only one opponent, Indiana State, failed to gain over 400 yards of offense on the Hoosiers. Missouri racked up 623, Michigan 751, Illinois 612 and Wisconsin 676. Even lowly Purdue, which scored less than 10 points in four games on the season, scored 36 points and totaled 516 yards in the season finale.

KEY LOSSES/RETURNING STARTERS. Gone is defensive coordinator Doug Mallory. Head coach Kevin Wilson brought in Brian Knorr for defensive coordinator duties and with him comes a new 3-4 defense. The Hoosiers lose only safety Heban and his 81 tackles from the 2013 starting lineup.

Kevin Wilson's defense was young and played a lot of freshmen. There's still upperclassmen leadership as David Cooper (85 tackles), Mark Murphy (84 tackles), Tim Bennett (73 tackles) and Forisee Harden (58 tackles) will be seniors this year. Sophomores-to-be Antonio Allen (35 tackles), T.J. Simmons (68 tackles), Marcus Oliver (37 tackles), Clyde Newton (32 tackles) and David Kenney (9 tackles) return after getting a taste of Big Ten football.

Indiana's offense is going to score points so the defense doesn't have to be the 1985 Bears. Still, they can't be the 2013 Hoosiers either if they're going to reach six wins and get to a bowl game. This unit will improve as Kevin Wilson added some solid recruits in 2013. They got experience last year and will take a step forward this fall.

NAME TO WATCH: Defensive end David Kenney

MARYLAND (7-6)

2013 TOTAL DEFENSE RANK: #44

2013 SCORING DEFENSE RANK: #55

2013 PASSING DEFENSE RANK: #57

2013 RUSHING DEFENSE RANK: #45

2013 FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS EFFICIENCY RANK: #64

2013 STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANK: #70 (Sagarin)

2013 DEFENSIVE STATS:

MARYLAND (13 GAMES)


RUSH DEFENSE 522  att 1941 yds 3.72 yds/att 20 Td 10 fum 149.3 yds/game
PASS DEFENSE 230 comp 415 att 3231 yds 18 Td 11 Int 248.5 yds/game
TOTAL DEFENSE 891 plays 5160 yds 5.79 yds/play 36 Tds 21 to 374.4 yds/game

QUICK STATISTICAL ANALYSIS. Like Pitt, Maryland too faced Florida State last season. The results were worse. FSU combined for 614 total yards in a 63-0 defeat of the Terps. They also surrendered 551 yards to Clemson and 505 to Virginia. The rush defense was hit or miss. They allowed Virginia, Clemson, Syracuse and Boston College to rush for over 240 yards. They also held Florida International, UCONN, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech to under 100 yards rushing. Interestingly, the Virginia, Clemson, Syracuse and BC games were all home games.

KEY LOSSES/RETURNING STARTERS. The Terps don't lose much. Gone is defensive backs Isaac Goins and Dexter McDougle. Goins recorded 60 tackles and two interceptions last season. McDougle played only four games but intercepted three passes and returned one for a touchdown.

Linebacker Marcus Whitfield is also gone. Whitefield played all 13 games and 52 tackles and nine sacks. He earned honorable mention all-ACC.

Also earning honorable mention all-ACC is returning linebacker Cole Farrand. He was Maryland's second leading tackler with 84 last season. Top tackler, defensive back Sean Davis (103) also returns. As does linebackers L.A. Goree (76 tackles), Matt Robinson (73 tackles) and defensive back William Likely (70 tackles).

NAME TO WATCH: Defensive back Will Likely

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