The New Orleans VooDoo enter Saturday night’s season opener against the Jacksonville Sharks at the Smoothie King Center with a young defense.
That’s not to say the unit lacks talent.
Defensive back Cameron McGlenn, last season’s leading playmaker on defense, said he expects this spring’s mix of old and new teammates to showcase an increased athletic ability, an effort which he hopes to overshadow last season’s defensive woes.
The VooDoo ranked 12th out of 14 Arena Football League teams in scoring defense last season, allowing 56.2 points per game.
The unit was better in total defense, allowing 269.5 yards, sixth in the league.
Now, McGlenn wants more.
“We have more athletes this year,” said McGlenn who earned second-team all-Arena honors by tying for sixth in the AFL with 96 1/2 tackles, as well as finishing fourth overall with 11 interceptions. He also had two forced fumbles.
“Everybody has the same goals, and they’re doing their business to reach those goals.”
Also back on defense is defensive lineman Michael Janac, who split time last season between Orlando and New Orleans. With the VooDoo, he played in 12 games, finishing with 2.5 sacks, 23 tackles and one forced fumble.
Also in the secondary is defensive back Justin Hannah, who had 38.5 tackles, five passes broken up and one fumble recovery.
Gone are leading pass rusher Michael Alston (9.5 sacks) and Marlon Favorite, a New Orleans native who collected 4 1/2 sacks before retiring during the offseason.
Under first-year coach Dean Cokinos, new players on the VooDoo defense include Rayshaun Kizer, who finished last season for Philadelphia with 101.5 tackles — the fifth-best tackle total in the AFL — and nine interceptions. Tracy Belton had 65 tackles for Orlando.
The VooDoo on Monday traded for the All-Arena defensive back duo.
Also, Roosevelt Falls, who played at Louisiana Tech, starred last season for the New Mexico Stars in the Lone Star Football League, and defensive lineman Wayne Dorsey played in eight games last season as a rookie with the Iowa Barnstormers, collecting six tackles and a half a sack.
Jacksonville, meanwhile, is starting anew at quarterback with former University of Oklahoma quarterback Tommy Grady, the Arena Football League’s MVP during his 2012 season with the Utah Blaze.
“They have a lot of talent over there ... also at quarterback,” Hannah said. “But we have a pretty good coaching staff now, and they’re getting us prepared. So let the best team win.”