Depth, experience on defense a plus

The BG football team is looking to shrug off its first losing season since 2000, and the defense wants to have a say in it.

With eight starters coming back from that side of the ball, they shouldn’t have trouble.

“Our attitude is definitely more aggressive especially toward stopping the run,” said linebacker Erique Dozier.

A secondary that returns all four of its starters from 2006 should take the pressure off the run defense this season.

“Our defensive backs have done a great job with coverage so that helps [the linebackers] focus more on stopping the run,” Dozier said.

Last season, the secondary had its fair share of bumps and bruises, but the experience that comes with facing opponents like Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzales, Eric Delauriers and Ryne Robinson can’t be taught.

This year, they’re just another year older and have one of the conference’s best pass rushers in Diyral Briggs. In starting every game of the season, Briggs tallied seven sacks and 10.5 tackles for a loss.

Dozier rounds out a talented core of linebackers. He joins Loren Hargrove, P.J. Mahone, John Haneline and Cody Basler in a hard-hitting unit.

They’ll get a great test in the first two weeks when they face Big Ten members Michigan State and Minnesota. Last season the Falcons had a hard time taking down Wisconsin’s P.J. Hill, but made a good showing against Ohio State. The unit hopes that playing Big Ten teams will help them when they face MAC opponents.

“[Big Ten running backs] are a lot bigger and have larger legs so they break a lot of tackles. It definitely increases our tackling ability to get a lot of people to the ball,” Dozier said.

The team has also welcomed now-former tight end Sean O’Drobinak to the defensive side of the ball. He is now a tackle and has gotten more and more used to it as camp has progressed.

“The more practice you get, the better you get at it,” O’Drobinak said, smiling. “And I’ve got a bunch of practice under my belt now.”

The players on that side of the ball will improve their unit at any cost, even when they go head-to-head with the first-team offense.

“It gets real personal,” Briggs said. “Everyone out there is trying to prove a point, but it’s all about the love, too.”

The Falcons had the second-worst scoring defense in the MAC last season, but the fourth-best defense when it came to yardage.

If they limit the big play, people may be talking about the Falcons’ defense like they did about the offense a few years ago.