The Herd defense ranked in the bottom 30 in the nation in scoring, total yards, rushing and passing defense, and in preventing third-down conversions. Defensive coordinator Chris Rippon resigned after the 65-59 double-overtime loss at East Carolina in the season finale.
"We added about 10 bodies that can play,'' Holliday said. "I think that inside linebacker, you've got some guys that can run and play that we haven't had in the past.
"You look at the secondary, it's a lot more athletic than what it was. We've got more depth up front than we've had in the last couple of years. Those guys up front will play better defense. Chuck has some pieces in place to address the issues.''
Holliday said the leadership component is also much better coming out of the spring.
"You never want to get in a situation where we were a year ago,'' said the Herd coach who is from Hurricane. "Going in we had four to six seniors and a couple of them played and I think that was it. I think for the first time since I've been here, not only do I have 18-plus seniors but I've got some real guys.
"They're not just bodies, they're guys that can play. They're mature and they've played a lot of football. It's a whole heck of a lot easier to be a leader that's well respected when you're also a good player.''
All in all, it's adding up to a breakout year for the Herd.
"If we take care of business and prepare,'' said Holliday, "we've got a shot to have a pretty good football team.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.