'We should win more games': Da'Quaun Jamison leads defensive unit following departures
Central Michigan’s defense showed an ample amount of success last season, but there's always room for improvement.
The Chippewas finished middle of the Mid-American Conference pack in scoring defense and near the bottom in run defense.
Here's the catch: The defense was still much better than the offense throughout the recent 1-11 campaign.
Under former coach John Bonamego, the defense finished second in total defense and passing defense thanks in large part to cornerbacks Sean Bunting and Xavier Crawford, both taken in the 2019 NFL Draft.
“They played darn near every snap at corner," said new coach Jim McElwain Tuesday at MAC Media Day. "We’ve got some guys that need to step up, and I think we’ve got some guys that will do that."
With a new coaching staff led by McElwain and new defensive coordinator Robb Akey, CMU is aiming to build on last years successes and improve in areas that were weaknesses.
Good defensive performance often starts in the trenches.
Luckily for CMU, many in and around the program feel that the defensive line could and will be a strength for the Chippewas this season.
Seniors Sean Adesanya and D’Andre Dill are slated to anchor the defensive front looking to pressure opposing quarterbacks. CMU finished fifth in the MAC last season with 29 sacks and McElwain will need at least that level of production again if he hopes to improve the team's win-loss record.
“The first thing is when you talk upfront we’ve got some guys I think in D’Andre Dill and LaQuan [Johnson] are some guys that are gonna have to play big,” McElwain said. “Adesanya is gonna have to come up as a pass rusher for us.”
Another possible addition to the defensive line is Deron Irving-Bey, a transfer from Michigan. The defensive end was academically dismissed earlier this year, but McElwain said he is working to get back in school and on the field.
“Irving-Bey is still working on getting back into school," McElwain said. "He is doing everything he can, so we will know the first day of classes."
The Chippewas lost plenty senior leadership and production from the middle of their defense last season in linebackers Malik Fountain, Alex Briones and Trevor Apsey.
Senior Michael Oliver, who had 31 tackles last year, is primed as a starter at linebacker for the Chippewas.
Christian Mercer is the only other senior listed at linebacker for the Chippewas, and, due to that, CMU will likely rely on a very inexperienced linebacker unit to patrol the field.
Another area where the Chippewas lost key starters is in the defensive backfield. Bunting and Crawford are both gone and headed for their first taste of NFL action.
Well, that leaves a void.
Senior defensive back Da’Quaun Jamison received praise from McElwain for his leadership on defense and figures to be a key player for the Chippewas this season.
As far as starters at the corner position, it seems the answer to that will be kept quiet for now.
“There will be two big roles that have to be filled,” Jamison said “Those guys have been preparing themselves throughout the summer coming up and they shall prevail too. Whoever the two corners may be, I’d rather not say, but whoever they may be they’re all competing and they’re all good.”
Sophomores Brandon Brown and Darius Bracy got most of the first-team repetitions at cornerback during spring ball.
When asked about what needs to be done to change the team’s fortune this season, Jamison had this to say.
“We just need to buy in and once you buy into the system good things happen,” he said. "Not to say that we weren’t bought in last season, but this season we want to focus on buying in more to the culture and the tradition and what they are trying to do.
"With that being said we should win more games than one game from the previous season.”