What's the key to a strong defense?

Inside access: Strong defense was a rarity in Week 1. Why did some succeed where most failed?

Updated: September 5, 2014, 11:34 AM ET
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com

Seventy FBS teams scored 30 points or more in Week 1. There were 40 in the 40-point club. The national average for yards gained: 438.1.

So much for the coaching adage that defenses start ahead of offenses.

"It's crazy what we have to defend in college ball," Tennessee defensive coordinator John Jancek said. "By no stretch is the defense ahead."

While it felt as if the majority of offenses had the upper hand in Week 1, a few defensive units delivered.

UCLA called on its defense to score (because its offense surprisingly couldn't) against Virginia. Tennessee's new-look defense stifled Utah State's Chuckie Keeton, and Ole Miss' young talents blossomed against Boise State. A new scheme didn't slow down Louisville. Texas displayed the team tackling it lacked last season in coach Charlie Strong's debut. And Temple took a page from Houston's book in thumping Vanderbilt on the road.

What's the secret to having a strong defense out of the gates? I talked to a number of coordinators whose teams started strong. Here's what those units had in common: