Returning Starters: 6
Key returners: Chris Bermond, LB, 6-1, 245, Sr.; Toren Joseph, DB, 6-2, 191, Jr.; Byron Cobb, DB, 5-10, 176, Jr.; Lorenza Young, DT, 6-2, 275 Sr.
Key Losses: Jordan Piper, LB; Kerry Guidry, LB; Rashar Knight, LB/DE
Key Arrivals: Geoffrey Hebert, LB, 6-3, 220
When you give up as many points as the Colonels and lose 10 games in resounding fashion, it is typically easy to find weaknesses. In the case of the Colonels, though, there are a couple of significant losses to this otherwise porous defense.
"LB Jordan Piper is the biggest loss on defense. While the defense was extremely poor, this guy played like an All-American and was an all-conference performer," Renois said. "He tied a school record with 23 tackles in a single game last season and finished with 107 total tackles last season."
The Colonels also lost their top pass rusher with the graduation of Rashar Knight (10 tackles for loss and 4 sacks) and a starting nose tackle.
There are some glimmers of hope with the return of Bermond, the second leading tackler from a year ago. The Colonels also return their top two pass defenders with Cobb and Joseph.
Early Defense Prediction: This is a defense that struggled against every non-NAIA team they played last season and that trend will continue with Oregon. The Colonels play a 3-3-5 defense but just do not have the size or speed to contend with a top-5 caliber team.
Expect a lot of risk taking on defense as the Colonels attempt to make some big plays at the line of scrimmage and try to swarm the running game early. Unfortunately for Nicholls, they just do not have the horses on the line to make this strategy work.
Mariota will have plenty of time to throw if needed and the running game should flourish against this undermanned defense.
The defense for the Colonels recorded just 11 sacks and 11 interceptions last season, don't expect them to generate much pressure on the Oregon offense.