Hornets’ promising defense aims to dominate

DSU’s defense makes a stop on a run against Savannah State last year. Delaware State News file photo

DOVER — There was one constant in Delaware State University’s three football victories last season.

The defense played lights out.

The Hornet defense is hoping to bring that momentum into preseason camp. It only allowed a combined 35 points during the final four games of the season (8.75 points per game).

Delaware State gave up just two offensive touchdowns in those final four games too.

“That’s our thing now, we don’t want anyone to score,” said senior linebacker Brian Cavicante. “We want to be the No. 1 defense in the MEAC.”

The Hornets do return several important pieces from last year’s unit, led by Cavicante, the preseason MEAC Defensive Player of the Year.

Safety Jahad Neibauer is also back and was named to the All-MEAC preseason second team. Neibauer was second on the Hornets in tackles behind Cavicante a year ago and tied for 14th in the MEAC.

Christian Johnson, a defensive lineman, was also on the preseason second team while defensive back Devin Smith was selected to the third team. Alex Lozano is the top returning linebacker after recording 46 tackles as a sophomore a year ago.

The Hornets also brought in several grad transfers who second-year coach Rod Milstead said will give the already stout unit an extra boost.

Brandon Carswell will join the defensive line after transferring from Savannah State. Another newcomer, Carrington Jones, will challenge for time on the defensive line. Jones transferred from Temple University and had to sit out the 2018 season due to transfer regulations.
Junior Liki Seu is moving from the offensive line to the defensive line this camp.

“We added some crucial pieces,” Milstead said. “We’ve got some new pieces on the defensive line and in the linebacking core and definitely added some new faces to our secondary. We feel pretty confident in the guys that we have.”

The strong end to the season was encouraging for the Hornets considering how they started.

They gave up 45 points or more in each of their first four contests — granted two were against FBS opponents in Buffalo and Western Michigan. Delaware State also allowed 55 points in a road loss to Howard in the sixth week of the year.

Things turned around in the Hornets’ eighth game, when they downed North Carolina Central 28-13. Delaware State pulled away by not giving up a single touchdown in the second half.

The Hornets followed that up by holding Savannah State to just 167 yards — the best defensive mark by DSU since 2010.

“In the beginning of the season we were giving up a bunch of points,” Cavicante said. “We didn’t like how that felt. Every day we came out with the goal of proving that we’re the best defense in the MEAC. I think you saw that in the last three or four games last year. Now we got to do that from the start of the season to the end of the season, not just turn it on at the end.”

Milstead said the Hornets will keep the same defensive scheme but a handful of starting positions are still up for grabs.

“We have a solid foundation,” Milstead said. “We’re just going to improve on what we have and continue to move forward.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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