Last Night I posted CFN's Offensive Unit Rankings for 2006, tonight we take a look at the Defense.
What the D lacks in overall experience it makes up for in ridiculous talent and athleticism. The linebacking corps is one of the best in America with a third string that would form a killer starting trio for about 95 other teams. The secondary doesn't have any big names, but that will change quickly if some of the superstar freshmen play well right away and if there's good competition for the safety spots. End Lawrence Jackson and tackle Sedrick Ellis are great players to build around on a line that should have few problems getting into the backfield. The return of former defensive coordinator and former Idaho head coach Nick Holt adds even more punch.
This has been well documented. Where the defense was the Achilles Heel last year they will be the reason that USC stays near the top this year. The front 7 are phenomenal and will give a lot of offenses trouble this year. DC Nick Holt will keep them fired up.
This could be the Achilles' heel early, but it should turn into a killer of a pass rushing unit as the season goes on. Lawrence Jackson is an All-America caliber talent at one end, but a steady pass rusher, hopefully Kyle Moore, has to develop on the other side to take the pressure off. Sedrick Ellis is an undersized and underrated tackle to build around, and there are plenty of good prospects ready to fill in the gaps. Fortunately, the impressive linebacking corps will clean up most of the mistakes the front four makes.
Once they get settled look out! It will fun to watch these guys come together as the season progresses.
A concern going into last season, the linebacking corps might be the best in America if all the parts are intact. This is a very big, very fast group with seven All-America caliber talents not counting the big-time freshmen coming in this summer. The return of Thomas Williams from a knee injury and Dallas Sartz from a shoulder problem gives the corps a big boost, while the progression of Rey Maualuga and Keith Rivers as experienced veteran should mean few mistakes.
Don't forget about Brian Cushing. He has come a long way since his freshman year and will be a leader on the field. This where we nail the games down, there are a lot of potential stars in this group.
This is not surprising. There will be a lot of new faces in the secondary next year. The front 7 will take some of the pressure off but the secondary needs to step up. Pinkard will be the anchor of the unit and is the most experienced. There won't be as much depth as last year but we should see a lot of production from some of the new faces this season.
Again a lot of new faces here. Returning Kicks should be Harris and Gable. Returning Punts should be Reed and Patterson. It should be fun to watch.
Another good read from CFN.