When it was announced that Todd Whitten would be the new head coach for the Texans it was certain that an explosive offense would follow.

One surprise that came with him however was the Texan’s defensive effort. Whitten and his staff took a defense that gave up on average 49 points in the 2015 season and turned it into a group that was efficient in not only keeping the Texans in contention within the conference, but forcing turnovers and creating leaders.

What the defense does this season may bring the Texans their first winning season since 2014.

“Last season where we made our real big improvement was on the defensive side of the ball and I expect that those guys will improve again,” Whitten said.

The Texan defense made a huge turnaround last season with help from players used to being on the other side of the ball.

Dominique Martin was an offensive weapon who went on to make a huge impact on defense following Whitten’s arrival.

“Dominique was a receiver until a year ago when our staff got here and we moved him to corner where he played really well,” Whitten said.

Martin, who had five interceptions his senior season, also earned a Lone Star Conference honorable mention at the corner position.

 “Guys like that are hard to replace. They’ve been around here a long time,” Whitten said.

The Texan defense was one of the best in the conference when it came to forcing turnovers.

Martin had five interceptions last season, which tied for the most in the conference.

As was EJ Speed in forcing fumbles, whose season total of five was tied for best in the conference as well.

“One of the great stats in football is the team that gets the most turnovers oftentimes is the winner,” Whitten said. “It has been through the test of time and that always holds true, so to be a good football team and have a chance to compete for a championship or playoff spot you got to take care of the ball on offense and take it away on defense. If you’re able to do those things pretty well you’re likely to have a good season.”

Speed did just that for the Texans a year ago and hopefully he’ll have the same success this season.

Speed said when it came to his ability to force turnovers he does it all for his team.

 “The game of football is all about momentum and when you make plays like that it switches the momentum in your favor and gets your teammates into the game so they can make more plays,” Speed said.

Speed’s athleticism led him not only to make big plays, but earned him a Lone Star Conference second team selection.

“He (Speed) makes a lot of big plays. He led the country last year in caused fumbles. He’s a tall rangy guy who can run really well and has a good feel for the game of football on the defensive side. He’s always around the ball. He had six sacks last year. He really is a big play guy whether it’s causing turnovers or making sacks,” Whitten said.

When asked if he viewed himself as a leader on defense, Speed said he prefers to show rather than tell.

“I like to lead by example. I really don’t like to do a lot of talking because everyone has their own way of clicking. Football is a game of development and everyone is going to develop at one point. So if you let them develop on their own and hold each other accountable everything will lay out,” he said.

The Texans will return Speed along with six other starters on the defensive side of the ball.

“If they work hard and play well together defensively I think we’ll have a chance to have one of the better squads in the conference,” Whitten said.