Statistically, the Northwestern State Demon defense was at best average in 2011. The unit, which bills itself the Purple Swarm, allowed 27 points per game and 388 total yards per contest.
Rushing defense was solid, but no more. The Demons gave up 136 rushing yards per contest and allowed opposing ball-carriers four yards a tote. That latter number is not good considering the FCS level of competition.
On pass defense, the Demons were overly generous, but were also opportunistic. They gave up 252 yards through the air per outing and allowed a high 7.1 yards per pass attempt, but also pilfered 16 aerials while giving up 17 touchdown passes. The number of interceptions is impressive given that the Demons sacked the quarterback only 13 times.
Northwestern State allowed opponents to convert third downs 40 percent of the time.
As an aside, the Demon defense is very short. Only two starters, defensive end Wade Williams and defensive tackle Lesley Deamer stand taller than six feet.
Defensive Line: The strength of NSU's defense will undoubtedly be up front where two starters return. In addition to the aforementioned Williams and Deamer, defensive end Keland Johnson and nose tackle Damon Medcafe comprise the starting lineup.
Wade Williams will be a third-year starter in 2012, but it is the 290-pound Deamer who most bears watching. From a down position, he recorded 41 tackles and six quarterback hurries last season.
Linebacker: Only one starter returns to the linebacking unit, but he's probably the best player on the roster. Senior Derek Rose was a third-team All American and first-team All Southland Conference performer in 2011. This season he is on the Buck Buchanan Award watch list. The award goes to the most outstanding defensive player in the FCS division.
A year ago Rose notched 91 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and seven quarterback hurries. He will be one of the better linebackers Tech faces this season.
Rose's fellow starters at linebacker will be Tyler Smith and Pat Black.
Secondary: Throwing deep against the Demons, who return both starters at safety, could be a challenge. Bert and Jamaal White (no relation) are the veteran safeties.
Bert White tallied 55 tackles, while Jamaal, a preseason All SLC pick, recorded 59 tackles, four interceptions and two forced fumbles last season.
Coach Bradley Dale Peveto will be breaking in two new corners against the Red Raiders. Sophomores Imoan Claiborne and Rico Albert will receive their baptism as starters in Jones/AT&T Stadium. Seth Doege and Tech's deep, talented receiving corps will go after this duo immediately to see what they're made of.