I've spent the weekend thinking over Memphis and its loss of defensive starters compared to last season. The starting lineup from this season--at this same point in time--contains eight new faces. So what exactly do the Tigers have coming back, and just how experienced are the new starters?
The Tigers will return DE Ernest Suttles, DAWG Jackson Dillon, and FS Reggis Ball in the starting line up. This trio accounted for a combined 92 tackles, 5.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries. Pretty solid numbers for guys that played on a highly touted defense in 2014.
Now we come to the part that seems to leave question marks in the minds of many. The Tigers have eight new faces to the starting depth chart on D. This seems to catch everyone eye, and it should. I won't lie and tell you that I have not had doubts about that type of turnover, but lets take a look at how the new starters performed in their action last season.
Latarius Brady (DE)
30 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumbles recovered, and 1 sack
Donald Pennington (NT)
14 tackles, 1 fumble recovered
Noah Robinson (LB)
Wynton McManis (LB)
20 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery
Dontrell Nelson (CB)
8 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 interception returned for a 58 yard touchdown
DaShaughn Terry (SS)
23 tackles, 1 force fumble, 1 interception
Chauncey Lanier (CB)
1 tackle (spent majority of his two years at Memphis on special teams)
For those doing the math at home that is 121 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 1.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and a touchdown. What were the team totals last season for such stats? The Tigers had 762 tackles, 14 forced fumbles, 30 sacks, 17 interceptions, and 3 interceptions returned for a touchdown. There is plenty of ground for the new batch of Tiger defenders to make up.
While the Missouri State game obviously will not provide answers to how good this Tiger D will be, it should lay a foundation for what could be another special season.