MEMPHIS – Through the first two games of this college football season, the Memphis Tigers have been dominant on defense. They sit second in the country in total defense with Memphis, yet to give up a defensive touchdown through the season’s first two weeks.
A big reason why has been the play of a number of new faces on that side of the ball.
Take, for instance, Saturday night in Jonesboro where, of the six top tacklers on that Memphis defense against Arkansas State, five were new names on the two-deep from a season ago.
Guys like DJ Bell, who had six stops and came up with one of the Tigers four turnovers, returning it for a touchdown.
Then there are transfers Simeon Blair, Josh Ellison, DeAgo Brumfield and Chandler Martin. That foursome combined for 22 tackles, four and a half tackles for loss, two picks and a forced fumble.
And this unit is just getting started.
“We can be a really good defense. I feel like we have all the pieces to do it and we have the chemistry. And every day we push each other to practice hard and to get better a little bit every day,” said Tigers linebacker Chandler Martin. “So the sky’s the limit for the defense.”
“That’s our mentality. To have a shutout mentality,” said Tigers cornerback DJ Bell. “Allow no points on the board.”
Matt Barnes also knows what’s driving his defense’s success.
“Our guys play for each other, so they know that there’s a standard in our room,” Barnes said. Everybody’s looking to uphold that standard of how hard and fast we want to play.”
A Tiger defense that will get tested Thursday night, trying to slow down the vaunted triple option of Navy… on a short week… to open conference play.
Kickoff is set for 6:30 on ESPN.