The Washington Huskies have been known to put up an inconsistent defensive front over the last few years, but with the experienced talent returning this season, the Dawgs may finally pull together a solid overall defense.
Defensive coordinator Nick Holt whipped the Huskies into shape by the end of last year, culminating in an astounding defensive display against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.
Now Husky fans are wondering if he can keep up the improvements in the 2011 season.
The defensive line is getting back two heavy hitters in Alameda Ta'amu and Everrette Thompson.
Both are returning seniors with impressive resumes. Thompson, who played both defensive end and defensive tackle last season, was instrumental in coming up with key tackles.
This year Thompson should play DE exclusively, freeing him to use his size and speed to terrorize opposing backfields.
Meanwhile, Ta'amu is on several national watch lists for defensive linemen.
This massive defensive tackle creates havoc for interior offensive linemen, and will see his fair share of double-teams this year.
Senior Cort Dennison is the linebacking rock in the middle of the Husky defense.
His leadership and sure tackling will be invaluable in showing young guns Jamaal Kearse and Garret Gilliland the proper way to compete for a Nick Holt defense.
The defensive play-calling will most assuredly start the season as vanilla, but as the season progresses and Kearse and Gilliland gain experience, who knows what crazy flavors Holt will unleash.
Quinton Richardson and Desmond Trufant provide perhaps the most consistent part of the Husky defense.
Both of these players have been multi-year starters at cornerback, and their dependable coverage skills will allow the Dawgs defense to dial up blitz packages to harass the quarterback.
As the last line of defense, Nate Fellner and Sean Parker will be entrusted with preventing the big play while also supplying nuts-and-bolts defensive support.
Fellner tied for fourth in the Pac-10 in interceptions last year, and will look to mentor first-time starter Parker on the fine points of playing safety.
This tutelage might just result in the final piece of the puzzle to a potentially outstanding Husky defense in 2011.