Another season, another strong Blue Hens defense
Head Coach Danny Rocco’s decision to move from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 has proven to be a success for Delaware football, making the defense shine in their first five games. The Hens’ overall record is 3-2, but thus far, the defense has proved strong and purposeful in their execution at every game.
With the highest opposing score being 27 points from Delaware’s second game of the season against Virginia Tech, no opponent has reached the 30-point mark on the scoreboard yet.
Delaware has also kept the scores of competitive CAA teams such as the James Madison Dukes and the Stony Brook Seawolves under what both teams saw in last-season games versus the Hens — the Dukes earned 43 points compared to last season’s 20 and the Seawolves were only allowed 20 points in Saturday’s game, in comparison to last season’s 28.
“I think the strong defensive plays comes from just the consistency we’ve been having in practice and the discipline we’ve had instilled in us during spring ball and camp,” Captain and starting linebacker Troy Reeder said. “It’s really nice to reap the rewards now that the season’s here. We’ve learned how to finish games, that’s a big emphasis.”
At the start of the season, the Hens’ defense took a blow when they lost junior defensive lineman Cam Kitchen and senior linebacker and captain Charles Bell to season-ending injuries during their game against JMU.
“They’re obviously good players and productive for us and their personalities add something to the team too,” Defensive Coordinator Chris Cosh said. “So people have to step up and fill the void and play that position. That’s why we’re out here practicing, everyone has the chance to play.”
The Hens’ defense seems to be doing just that, stepping up and proving to be versatile. In the Hens’ Saturday game versus Stony Brook, their first full game without Bell and Kitchen, offensive lineman Mario Farinella switched up his usual duty and played the defensive line while outside linebacker Armen Ware moved to a lineman. Jalen Kindle, who came in for Bell during the JMU game, continued to play linebacker against Stony Brook as well.
Defensive leaders like Reeder and defensive back Nasir Adderley also pulled their weight, leading the unit with 12 tackles each.
“We have a high standard and I’ll give the credit to just our unity,” Adderley said. “We come to practice hype and ready to go everyday so I think that contributes to it and that makes it easier.”
Delaware has a history of a strong defense, and this season is no exception. Last season, the unit gave up an average of 349.7 yards, but this year has only given the other team 319.2 offensive yards. The Hens’ defense is also second in the CAA for touchdowns allowed with a total of eight being scored on them so far this season.
“The defense has jumped out to a really fast start against some really good offenses,” Reeder said. “But we have to keep that level of consistency up. There’s a lot of football left to be played.”