The numbers last year spoke for themselves. #2 Rushing defense, #6 Passing defense, #1 defense overall. But like everything in life, things have changed. Don Brown is gone. Justin Simmons, Steven Daniels and Connor Wujciak have all moved on to careers in the NFL. On the surface it would look like BC’s vaunted defense will take a step back in 2016, but that may not be the case.
Former Iowa linebacker coach Jim Reid has taken over the defense, and according to the new DC he plans on following Addazio’s lead on the defensive style “On the defensive side, what his plan was was to develop a pressure defense; that's what he likes. And that's what we'll continue to be. There may be some changes and different schemes, but we get our direction from him. “ Aggressive, attacking, ball hawking, all will be adjectives that analysts will still use to describe the defense in 2016. That should relieve a lot of anxiety many of us are feeling, as we worry that there will be a huge drop off after the departure of Don Brown.
What fans have to look forward to the most is the talent returning to the defense. True the trio listed above are gone, but Boston College should still challenge the ACC with one of the best defenses in the conference. Harold Landry, Kevin Kavalec and Zach Allen are a formidable trio of ends, while Addazio has been very positive about the speed and talent of the defensive backs.
Leading that defensive backfield will be senior John Johnson. Reports out of practice and scrimmages tell the story of a cornerback that has become a real vocal leader and teacher on the defense. "Yes I have, I've noticed myself become more of a vocal leader. “said Johnson at Media Day. “I also viewed myself as a leader but just by my actions. Now I have become vocal about it, too."
Johnson won’t be the only leader on defense this year. Another name to look for, is junior linebacker Connor Strachan. He talked during media day about how the defense has gelled as a unit “Everyone's worked really hard this summer. Honestly, camp hasn't been a grind, like, 'Aww, we've got to go to camp.' It's actually been a lot of fun to be able to play with this guys. Everyone who's stepping into a new position is getting after it. The defense as a unit – there're no selfish guys. Everyone's just working to help each other. When you have a team like that, it's a lot of fun."
Experience has allowed Strachan to really take a step forward this season. And in his position on the field he is going to have to "As a Mike back there, you have to be a leader on the defense. So having experience last year has really allowed me to comfortable out there this year, and be ahead in my mental part of the game” Strachan said.
And of course don’t forget about Matt Milano, another linebacker who is primed to jump into the national spotlight this year. All three of these defenders are going to be leaders on a defensive unit that is primed for another big year. Their first opponent, Justin Thomas the wishbone offense at Georgia Tech will be the first major hurdle. Kick off is in three weeks. Strap in.