There certainly weren't many bright spots to the 2015 football season, but the one positive was the best defense in the country. Don Brown did yeoman's work last year, taking a defense that at best was a middle of the pack crew in 2014, to one that not only shut down opposing teams but also kept a historically inept offense in games they had no business being in. Around him players elevated their game from being nice role players, to sought after NFL commodities (see Simmons, Justin) Bad news is that Don Brown left, going with Jim Harbaugh and the powerhouse program in Michigan. Also the defense lost some of their key contributors like hard hitting safety Justin Simmons, stud linebacker Steven Daniels, and tackle Connor Wujciak.
Even with Brown gone, things are not bleak for the defense entering this spring. There is still a ton of talent left on the roster, and new defensive coordinator Jim Reid has said that he plans on implementing a style of defense similar to what Brown had. Given all of those factors, BC should still have a damn good defense, one that may still be one of the top defenses in the country. Let's look at some of those factors in more detail.
In terms of talent, BC still has Matt Milano, a linebacker that exploded onto the scene in 2015, who should be All ACC this season. In a defense that wrecks havoc with plays at the line of scrimmage, Milano is the catalyst. What struck me about his play last year, were two things. He was lightening quick getting in the backfield and attacking the ball, and his ability to finish a play was elite. He's a senior this year, and he is going to be an anchor, but this spring it will interesting to see how he continues to progress and if he can become that Kuechly/Herzlich/Daniels type linebacker that takes over a game. Certainly think he is capable of doing that . Don't sleep on Connor Strachan either, as he also took huge leaps last year, and along with Milano should be one of the best pairs of LB's in the ACC going into the spring.
In the secondary the talent is all still there. Cornerback Kamrin Moore is coming back from a devastating injury he suffered against Louisville last season, and from what I've read he has been limited this spring. Isaac Yiadom also was banged up near the end of the season, but he is good to go now, and he has the potential to really become a lock down corner. It'll be a treat to see him line up against Thadd Smith this spring to see how the two battle. Even with Simmons gone, safety Will Harris should become a household name by the end of this upcoming season. He had some really strong moments in 2015, and should continue to flourish. Gabe McClary also is no slouch, in his first season in the secondary, he certainly wasn't perfect (opposing offenses picked on him at times), but he showed flashes, and this spring should be a good barometer of his growth.
On the defensive line, the defensive end position is pretty much set. Harold Landry showed some growing pains last season, especially against the run and mobile QB's, but he also showed that he could become an elite pass rusher. Let's see if work with new defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni has helped address some of those flaws in his game. The biggest question this spring has to be the defensive tackle position. Losing Wujciak with no proven back up certainly raises some red flags. Truman Gutapfel became a legitimate DT last year, but who lines up next to him will be something to watch. Look for redshirt Ray Smith and Noa Merritt to get snaps. Also have heard rumors of offensive players switching over to that side of the ball as well, but nothing I can report as of now. Definitely is going to be something to watch at practice and at the spring game.
If new defensive coordinator Jim Reid was wise he wouldn't change much from last year's nation leading defense. Remember his has a lot of talent on the roster that was brought in to fit into Don Brown's scheme. He is coming from a defense that put up numbers very similar to BC's, so the scheme probably won't change all that much. Still it will be interesting to watch this spring to see if has those different looks and packages that Brown used last year.