Jeff Hafley was hired by BC after a successful stint as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator. While his defenses have not been terrible at BC, they haven’t been all that impressive. Hafley has a mix of veteran returners and young talent this year but he will need more from the veterans this weekend if he wants to walk away with a win.
Donovan Ezeiruaku is the best player on this defense and a likely NFL guy at the defensive end spot. He has showcased an ability to defend the run well while also being a force as a pass rusher. Louisville handled Andre Carter for Indiana pretty well last week so it will be interesting to see if they can do the same this week.
The other defensive end spot is manned by Shitta Sillah who is a veteran pass rusher who probably needs to be a more disruptive member of the defense. Sillah and the others up front have not been able to do much outside of their first game against Northern Illinois. Louisville has not allowed many negative plays this year. I don’t expect that to change this weekend.
Linebacker is another spot where BC has veteran leadership. Vinny Dipalma has been around forever and continues to provide a steady hand on the defense. He’s a bit undersized but he has no problem sticking his nose in the mix and taking on blockers. Jaylen Blackwell has stepped into a starting role pretty well after being a backup last year. His speed in space has stood out to me and his ability to play in that space will be a factor against Louisville.
The best player in the group, in my opinion, is Kam Arnold. He is a downhill linebacker but he has great range and plays very fast. He has a nose for the ball and ends up in on a lot of tackles. I’ve also been impressed with how he plays in coverage in the middle of the field. He can run with tight ends and backs but he also has shown the ability to sit in a zone and read a quarterback’s eyes.
The Eagles’ secondary lost one of their top players Josh DeBerry to the portal but they do return Elijah Jones who led the ACC in PBUs last season. Jones is a long athlete and he plays the ball in the air very well. He hasn’t had an impressive start to this season but the veteran corner could make a play or two this weekend.
Unfortunately for BC, Jones is about all they brought back in the secondary. Jalen Cheek is a young talent but he hasn’t been an impactful player. The rest of the secondary has not shown me much in their three games this season. They’ve struggled to tackle, cover, or make big plays. This should be a game where the passing game makes some big plays.