This is perhaps the last part of this series, as I will now talk about CFN's preview of our defense.
Needless to say, they are highly complimentary of our abilities on defense.
They say of our defensive line, "Outlook: Utter destruction." They say of our linebackers, "All three starters return to an active group that dominated throughout last season." About our defensive backs, they say, " The corner spots are not just set, they're manned by two lockdown seniors who could end up forming the nation's best tandem."
Their criticisms? Mainly a lack of big plays a year ago, and there is a certain implication that they didn't always play up to their abilities. I think that's accurate. Our defense dominated some bad teams last year, but didn't always do well against average to good teams.
Against Alabama, we gave up 291 yards passing. Against Tennessee, the backup quarterback was 11 for 24 with 183 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Against Ole Miss, one of the worst rushing teams in the conference, we almost gave up a 100 yard rusher. Against Arkansas, McFadden and Jones combined for over 300 yards rushing.
The talent is there, but this year I'm looking for the kind of intensity that I didn't see game in and game out last year. This year, I want to see teams like Ole Miss and Alabama locked out of the game early, rather than stay in it all the way through like they did last year.
If we want to win the National Championship next year, or even the SEC Championship, we are going to have to be consistently dominant on defense like we were in 2003. That means we need to avoid giving up big games to teams like Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Alabama. It also means we're going to have to dominate lesser teams and end those games early.
Do I have any quibbles about their preview of our defense? Well, I've already talked about how I think they're overrating Chevis Jackson. I also think they're incorrect in saying that Ricky Jean-Francois is a backup. He's going to be starting at Right End if he's on the team.
Those are small complaints though. This was pretty darn good.