1. The Broncos have finished no worse than 14th in the nation in scoring defense every season since 2008.
2. They were No. 8 last year, No. 12 in 2011, No. 2 in 2010, No. 14 in 2009 and No. 3 in 2008.
3. They did that with standout cornerbacks and a two-deep defensive line.
4. They need to rebuild both of those areas this year.
5. Four starters return junior end Demarcus Lawrence, senior tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, sophomore safety Darian Thompson and junior safety Jeremy Ioane.
6. The defense lost three of its top four tacklers.
7. Of the 16 linemen, only six have significant game experience.
8. Of the four stud ends the position where Shea McClellin starred two are true freshmen, one is a redshirt freshman.
9. We might have to play with some young guys and as long as they play hard, with the relentless type of attitude that we want, and keep working to get better, we can live with it, defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski said.
10. Lawrence led the Mountain West with 9.5 sacks in 11 games last season.
11. He also registered a team-best 13.5 tackles for loss, a team-best four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a touchdown.
12. He should be better this year his second in the program after a stop at Butler Community College in Kansas.
13. Demarcus has had great energy out here, coach Chris Petersen said. Hes running to the ball and he has had a relentlessness about him all camp exactly the way we want our defensive linemen to play.
14. Tjong-A-Tjoe and junior Tyler Horn, who plays tackle and end, need to produce.
15. The Broncos will need contributions from true sophomore Armand Nance (tackle), JC transfer Justin Taimatuia (tackle), redshirt freshman Sam McCaskill (stud) and true freshmen Gabe Perez (stud) and Kamalei Correa (stud) to rotate the first- and second-team lines.
16. They might be without junior college transfer Tutulupeatau Mataele, a projected starter who was held out of fall camp because of an academic issue.
17. The nickel has been renamed. The same position will be known as strong-side linebacker, ending a five-year run for the nickel.
18. Junior Blake Renaud, one of the teams fiercest hitters, takes over at middle linebacker.
19. Local high school standouts Corey Bell (Capital) and Travis Saxton (Eagle) will contribute at linebacker.
20. Bell likely will be a co-starter with Jonathan Brown at strong-side linebacker.
21. Saxton is Renauds backup.
22. The Broncos have nine cornerbacks on the roster.
23. Six of them joined the team this year.
24. Three of the newcomers are among the top six expected to play junior college transfers Cleshawn Page and Mercy Maston and true freshman Jonathan Moxey.
25. Were responding pretty well as a unit, Page said. Were all pretty much bonding together.
26. The Broncos allowed a national-best four passing touchdowns last season.
27. Junior cornerback Bryan Douglas, who started the first three games in 2012, returns from a torn ACL.
28. Hopefully I can come back better than I was, Douglas said.
29. The safeties should be a strength.
30. Ioane was second on the team with 70 tackles last year.
31. He also scored a TD against Michigan State and grabbed the game-clinching interception vs. Washington.
32. Thompson unexpectedly joined the lineup when Lee Hightower was suspended. He started the final six games.
33. The defense shut out the offense in the fall scrimmage.
34. The Broncos held five straight opponents to fewer than 300 yards late last season.
35. They allowed 430 and 447 in the final two games including 279 yards from scrimmage to Washington running back Bishop Sankey.
36. Sankey returns for a rematch in the opener.
37. Its not defense but we had to put kickers somewhere.
38. The punting job could be a battle all season.
39. Junior kicker Dan Goodale seems poised for a comeback season after losing the job as a freshman.
40. Dan Goodales been very, very good, Petersen said.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398