Defensive coaching staff
This is absolutely a make-or-break year for Scottie Hazelton. His defenses have gone from criminal, to bad but offense and winning covered it up, to downright offensive (haha) last year.
I think we all realized that maybe it was less scheme and more player and depth related. But that doesn’t excuse a Power Five school to have worse defensive statistics than Akron, Buffalo, and UNLV.
The additions of Diron Reynolds and Jim Salgado look like positive additions to the coaching staff and like the offense, another year of strength and conditioning should improve this squad.
While the linebacker crew is the most talented group on the defense, the defensive line must get more sacks and put pressure on the quarterback. Yes, their 29 sacks were good for sixth in the Big Ten, but 12 of those came in the first two cupcake games. Pressure the quarterback and it makes everyone else’s job easier. Another year in the system should help the defensive backs close those wide open gaps that opposing wide receivers love to sit in for eight seconds, making light work for a 15-yard gain.
Again, I’m not asking for some peak Alabama under 10 points per game outer space dominance. But if this team keeps giving up 500-plus yards in a game, there needs to be a change.