“Get the ball out! Get the ball out!” one can hear Defensive Coordinator Chris Thurmond yelling at his defense during practices. Since Thurmond took over as defensive coordinator in 2012, turnovers and energy have been the hallmark of a defensive mentality that has steadily been implemented in his four years at Rice, a strategy the team hopes will lead to success in 2015.The team will run a multiple defense, meaning the defense will change its formation based on its opponent. According to Thurmond, the defensive strategy will allow the defense to read and adapt to different offenses.“We have the ability to change up depending on whoever we play and what their tendencies are,” Thurmond said.The 2015 defense is returning four of 11 starters from the 2014 team. The lack of experience on the defense may concern some, but according to redshirt junior linebacker Alex Lyons, the defense is determined to make a name for itself in 2015.“We’re young, but we’re talented and we’re very hungry, and I think we’re going to put on a show,” Lyons said.The Owls will have a young defense in 2015, particularly in the secondary. While the team lost considerable leadership and talent in the form of defensive tackle Christian Covington, defensive end Brian Nordstrom and cornerback Bryce Callahan this past season, several pillars remain. Lyons, the team’s leading tackler in 2014 with 71, will be returning to lead the linebacking core. On the defensive line, redshirt sophomore Graysen Schantz is joined by fellow redshirt sophomore Brian Womac and redshirt senior Stuart Mouchantaf, both of whom are returning from injuries. In the secondary, senior Ryan Pollard, the team’s top cornerback heading into 2015, is also coming back for his final season. With the returning talent, Lyons said coaches and returning players are not concerned. “We have a lot of great athletes on the back end who can play the ball, and up front we’re experienced and can beat people up,” Lyons said. “So [we can] get the ball out, get a couple ducks and get a lot of turnovers this year.”Head Coach David Bailiff is also confident in his 2015 team, despite the losses sustained. In particular, the coaching staff knew during the 2014 season they would lose seniors in the secondary. According to Bailiff, they were prepared for these losses and are confident in their ability to hold up against the pass.“We spent a lot of time getting young guys some playing time last year, since we knew we’d be hit hard by graduation,” Bailiff said. “We’ve got guys like Ryan Pollard and [redshirt junior] J.T. Blasingame that have played well in practice, and [sophomore] V.J. Banks got some playing time last year. It’s a young secondary, and a young team, but we have a lot of depth.”While they were happy with their performance in a 30-7 victory in the Hawai’i Bowl over Fresno State University that concluded the 2014 season, the team has been motivated this offseason by their performance in the game prior. Heading into the season finale with a 7-4 overall record and a 5-2 record within Conference USA, Rice faced off against Louisiana Tech University with a berth in the C-USA title game on the line. The Owls, however, were unable to pull it out. They were outgained in total yardage 677-371 while also committing four turnovers, resulting in a 76-31 loss.Bailiff said the loss pushed the players to redeem themselves in the bowl game, and has even provided continuing motivation going into this season.“I think you saw in the bowl game how motivated our guys were, how prepared we were for that game and how well we played,” Bailiff said. “That loss has definitely kept us energized heading into this season. Every year we want to win conference, we want to be a top 25 team. And we think we can do that this season.”Lyons and the defense was similarly motivated by the loss.“It’s extremely motivating during workouts when we’re out here in 100-degree weather,” Lyons said. “We had a power outage in our weight room and we were still working out. There’s nothing more motivating when you see that clip and the highlights of that clip. You never want that to happen.”Given the Owls’ 2015 opponents, one thing is certain: The defense will be tested. They will face off against the University of Texas, Austin and Baylor University this season, two schools that have consistently sent top-tier talent to the National Football League in recent years. Within C-USA, two opponents in particular stand out: Louisiana Tech, who will be quarterbacked by former Florida Gator Jeff Driskel, and Western Kentucky, a team led by 2014 C-USA MVP quarterback Brandon Doughty. Though these prolific offenses are on the schedule, Lyons said the defense is up to the task.“A lot of people are questioning the defense because we’re going to be pretty young,” Lyons said. “Anybody who has questions can come see for themselves, sit back and enjoy the show.”The season commences Sept. 5 at 2:30 p.m. in a home matchup against the Wagner Seahawks.