#1 -- ILB Brye French (6-1, 216 Sr.)
French is a returning starter from 2011 who was voted co-captain by his teammates. Unfortunately, a violation of team rules resulted in French losing that prestigious title, but he'll still be counted on by his teammates to provide leadership during the season and against the favored Irish. An Alabama native, French had 55 tackles including six for losses last season. His sack of Army's Trent Steelman helped the Mids extend their winning streak over West Point to a record 10 games. French also posted an impressive 13 tackles and a sack against nationally-ranked South Carolina on the road.
#2 -- ROV Tra'ves Bush (5-10, 192 Sr.)
Believed by some to be Navy's best all-around player, Bush finished second of the team in tackles last season with 93. He also had two interceptions and four tackles for lost yardage. A playmaker who usually answers the call in big games, Bush made 10 tackles in the Southern Miss game, 8 each against Army and Notre Dame, and 13 against East Carolina. As well, his 49-yard interception return for a touchdown helped the Mid's put away a scrappy Western Kentucky team. Navy will need another big game from Bush to beat the Irish.
#3 -- OLB Josh Tate (5-11, 203 So.)
Tate was originally slated to be a starter following an excellent spring practice but, like wide receiver Brandon Turner, failed his physical readiness test prior to the start of preseason practice which held him out of practice. Tate recently passed the test but coaches were skeptical of young player being able to re-win the starting position after missing so much practice. However, because of a recent injury to outside linebacker Chris Johnson it now seems that Tate's chances of playing versus the Irish have improved. Tate still might not see the starting lineup but look for him to make an impact in the game.
#4 -- FS Chris Ferguson (6-2, 195 So.)
In 2011 Navy allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete over 74 percent of their passing attempts. If the 2012 Navy defense is to improve on that glaring number they'll need players like Chris Ferguson to step up their games. Ferguson, who entered the starting lineup as a freshman in the fifth game of 2011, proved to be a reliable player and was named to the Honorable Mention All-Independent team. Against the Irish in South Bend, Ferguson finished with eight tackles and broke up a pass. He later registered interceptions against both Rutgers and SMU. With a year of experience under his belt look for Ferguson to have an even better 2012 season starting with Notre Dame.
#5 -- NG Barry Dabney (6-1, 297 Jr.)
In Navy's 3-4 defensive scheme it is crucial that the nose guard wreak havoc on opposing offenses. The nearly 300-pound Dabney has the look and tools to get the job done, however, he has never played in a college game. Dabney, who is taking over for since graduated Jared Marks, played well in the spring and to earn the starting job. Navy will need Dabney to plug running gaps and put some pressure on Irish quarterback Everett Golson if it is to have a chance on Saturday.
5 to Watch: Navy Defense
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