Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables:
On the defensive line
We have great depth there. We get Larry Birdine back and also John Williams to go with Thibs (Calvin Thibodeaux) and C.J. (Ah You). That gives us the best rotation of solid pass rushers that we've had. On the interior, we have some guys with some inexperience but with a lot of talent. We expect those guys to be able to step in and contribute.
On the linebackers
Depth is a question. We saw that take a hit when Ryan (Reynolds) got hurt, but Rufus (Alexander) is going to be one of the great players in the nation this year so we don't lack for playmakers there.
On the secondary
Reggie (Smith) is really going to help us out. We feel great about his natural ability. We have some experience there now that we lacked last season. We were starting a guy, D.J. (Wolfe), who had no experience at the position and then a couple true freshmen safeties. But now we have experience in those areas and that's everything. We're good across the board and we have a talented, youthful group.
On changes to this year's unit from last
We're going to be able to be more aggressive across the board. We didn't have a lot of depth last year and you can see that in our fourth quarter defense last year — it was atrocious. But this year we feel that we can improve on that and dictate play throughout the game.
Last year we were really talented but we had zero experience in some key areas. We weren't too far off last year. We had a few busts but we lacked aggressiveness and the assuradness needed to play good defense.
On increased expectations of unit since Bomar's departure
There are a lot of things we can't control. We just need to go in there and do our job and try to get off the field as quickly as we can. We only want to be in there for about three plays.
On having to adapt to offensive changes
If we do our job we should be off the field in three plays. We can't control the length of time any unit is out there, all we can do is control what we do when we're on the field. If we can for the most part continually put pressure with our front and get a higher level of sacks, then we shouldn't be on the field much anyways.
On DeMarcus Granger
He's not really gotten significant snaps to this point, but from what we saw in the spring we were really impressed with what he's shown. He's thick, explosive and athletic for a guy his size. He's not a Tommie Harris type that's going to be a great penetrator, but he's in great shape and he has great strength. He's hard to move in there, he's like a rock. The weight loss during the off-season has helped him a lot. He's going to be a key to our success up front.
Secondary coach Bobby Jack Wright:
We have depth now all over, quality depth. We moved Lendy (Holmes) there in the spring and we're really happy with his progression thus far. He has shown us some great things and he truly has great potential. We got Marcus (Walker) back now as well and he stepped in and didn't miss a beat. He's healthy now and he can really help us.
We also like what we saw in our freshmen corners – Jonathan Nelson and Dominque Franks. They are both really impressive too. So we feel that with our starters and all these other guys we should be really deep there this year.
On the potential of defense
If we can play to our potential this year, that's playing consistently, not making busts and keeping that aggressiveness about us, we expect to be right up there as one of the top 10 defenses in the country.
On the secondary as a whole
We now look at it as a veteran group. Those freshman we had are now sophomores with 12 games under their belts. We have a lot to build on. We fully expect Reggie to continue to improve and maybe become one of the premier cornerbacks in college football. We've got Darien Williams coming back, who's continuing to improve. D.J. really came on at the end of last year and showed great improvement for a guy that had never even played the position before.
We may have a new guy coming in at strong safety with Keenan Clayton, but we also have Jason Carter and Nic Harris, so we feel we are really solid at the safety position also. We don't expect any busts this year, play in, play out – game in and game out to play as a top 10 defense in the country.
Media Day Quotebook: Venables talks defense
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