If defense wins championships then several teams in the ACC and SEC are set up to take home the hardware in future years.
In 2008, four of the nation’s top 20 scoring defenses came from the ACC and five from the SEC. Eight of the top 20 passing defenses and seven top 20 rushing defenses from last year also came from the two conferences.
The ACC and SEC have a few teams who’s defenses should be outstanding in 2009. Look for these teams to hold up the ACC/SEC reputation with hard hitting, fast, aggressive units on the defensive side of the ball.
The Gator defense could be the best in the country in 2009 as they return all 11 starters to a team that gave up only 12.8 points per game last year. In 2008 Florida only once allowed more than 21 points in their 31-30 loss to Mississippi.
Florida had 26 interceptions on defense last year and return the players who were responsible for all but one of those.
Brandon Spikes is the anchor for the team on defense as he returns for his senior year in hopes of leading the Gators to their second straight national title. Spikes has 218 tackles in the last two years and intercepted four passes last year taking two to the house.
The Gators will post another top ten defense in nearly every category as they look to take their third title in four years.
While Clemson saw a big setback last year from their preseason hopes and dreams, the defense became a bright spot. In 2008 the Tigers allowed only 16.6 points per game and 295 yards per game.
Their biggest change in the coming year is the addition of Kevin Steele from Alabama as the defensive coordinator. The defensive line returns six players who started at least one game last year and all three linebackers return for another year.
The secondary will be strong with the return of two senior cornerbacks. Despite the losses of Chris Clemons and Michael Hamlin at safety the Tigers have a lot of talent ready to step up in 2009. Sabat Chambers is a player to watch as he transitions from linebacker to fill one of the voids at safety.
Clemson returns a great group on defense and with a proven winner at defensive coordinators taking over they will be a great group to watch this year.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama simply dominated opponents a year ago on defense as they allowed only 13 points per game and led the SEC in rushing defense. This year they return nine starters on defense. That coupled with about as easy an SEC schedule you can have, should lead to very low numbers in the score column for opponents.
Alabama will compete with several great running backs in the SEC West and they will have one of the best rushing defenses to rely on.
The star of the show is 6′5″, 354 pound Terrence Cody. The first team All-American nose guard looks to build off his 24 tackles as he becomes more of an every down player rather than just a run stopper on first and second downs.
The Tide has a solid linebacker crew with two standout players in Rolando McClain and Dont’a Hightower who are possible All-Americans. Look for Alabama to shut down the SEC with a great defense as they look to compete for a conference title.
Virginia Tech Hokies
The Hokies surprised everyone including themselves in 2008 when they posted a top 15 defense nationally allowing 17.5 points per game and only 277 yards per game. All the credit for the Tech defense goes to defensive coordinator Bud Foster who took the unheralded group last year and turned them into one of the ACC’s best.
Junior defensive end Jason Worilds is the biggest standout player on the team that featured one of the fastest lines in the nation. Depth at defensive end could be a possible set back, but barring injury the Hokies should be solid on the defensive line.
The linebackers and secondary players all are fundamentally sound group of individuals. Aside from senior cornerback Stephen Virgil, the Hokies don’t have any flashy play makers but they will be a unified and balanced corp.
Virginia Tech will not intimidate opponents with any one standout feature but they also have no real weakness to be exposed. Look for the Hokies to have a subtle but effective year on defense.
“Stand Up For Your Team”
Which team in the ACC or SEC will have the most dominating defense in 2009? Which conference boasts the best defenses top to bottom?
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(Also see ACC vs. SEC – Hardest Hitting Defenses)