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By the Numbers: Memphis Tigers New Defensive Starters

The 2014 Memphis Tigers' success was largely due to having one of the top defensive units in the country. The 2015 Tigers will have to pick up the slack, losing eight starters who accounted for majority of their defensive activity in 2014.

Will the Tigers have their hands full replacing guys like Bobby McCain and Fritz Etienne?
Will the Tigers have their hands full replacing guys like Bobby McCain and Fritz Etienne?
Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

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)

25 tackles

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.