Wednesday, March 16, 2011
In need of improvement: defense
By ESPN.com staff
Today we looked at the teams in the ACC in most need of offensive improvement. It's time to take a look at the other side of the ball. Here are the three teams in the league most in need of a defensive overhaul this offseason:
1. DUKE: You name it, the Blue Devils struggled to do it. Duke ranked among the nation's worst defenses in almost every major relevant category. Duke was 113th in rushing defense, 109th in scoring defense, 108th in total defense, 108th in pass efficiency defense, tied Georgia Tech for the fewest passes intercepted (eight), and last in the league in sacks and tackles for loss. It hasn't helped that the Blue Devils have had three different coordinators in as many seasons, but there has been some continuity as Jim Knowles was promoted from within.
2. WAKE FOREST: No, it's not good that the Deacs have appeared on both lists. Wake Forest hasn't been the same since Alphonso Smith and Aaron Curry moved on. Creating turnovers, once a strength, has seen a significant drop-off. The Deacs also struggled to stop the run, ranking 99th in the country last season in rushing defense. They were 101 in total defense, and more importantly, 110 in total defense, allowing a league-high 35.83 points per game. With the departure of coordinator Brad Lambert to Charlotte, Tim Billings and Brian Knorr will co-coordinate in 2011. The pressure is on to make immediate improvements.
3. VIRGINIA: As expected, it was a transition year in Mike London's first season. The Cavaliers changed staffs and schemes, and the statistics reflected that. Virginia struggled to get takeaways, trailing the league with 16. They had only five fumble recoveries all year. Only Wake Forest and Duke fared worse in total defense and scoring defense, as the Hoos allowed 28.25 points per game. They also struggled to stop the run. More should be expected in Year 2, and this year's recruiting class should also help -- eventually.