- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - On paper, the Tennessee State Tigers are taking a big hit to a defense that ranked among the nation’s stingiest last season.

Coach Rod Reed sees a silver lining to losing eight starters.

Reed says that injuries took such a toll last season that he has plenty of Tigers with starting experience because of the different lineups he was forced to use. The Tigers went from reaching the FCS playoffs in 2013 to finishing 6-6 for their third straight non-losing season, their first in 18 years.

He also has to replace six starters on offense, including the Tigers’ all-time leading passer in quarterback Mike German.

With 58 players returning overall, Reed says he’s hoping all that experience pays off this season.


Some things to watch at Tennessee State:

QB SWITCH: German threw for 8,464 yards passing in his four years as a starter. Junior Ronald Butler and redshirt freshman O’Shay Ackerman-Carter will compete to replace German, and Butler has the most experience having thrown for 1,405 yards and 13 touchdowns in spot duty the past two seasons.

THAT DEFENSE: The Tigers ranked 11th nationally and led the OVC in total defense allowing 303.3 yards per game, fourth averaging 3.58 sacks per game and also forced 25 turnovers. Defensive end Gabe Terry started only one game but led the Tigers with 11 ½ sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Cornerback Bernell Brooks, who started all 12 games last season, is the only starter back in the secondary. He had two interceptions for a unit that ranked fourth in the nation allowing only 153.3 yards passing per game.

OFFENSIVE LINE: The Tigers have had four offensive linemen drafted in the past two seasons with Robert Meyer going to Baltimore and Anthony Morris to Oakland this spring. Their replacements will try to extend a streak of 196 passes over four straight games without allowing a sack.

ADDITION BY TRANSFER: Ebenezar Ogundeko is expected to start at defensive end after transferring from Clemson, and Reed also Duaron Williams expected to start at right guard after leaving Iowa State.

TOUGH SCHEDULE: The Tigers open OVC play at Jacksonville State on Sept. 19 after playing Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis. They also have to visit Eastern Kentucky, but they will play two games on campus at Hale Stadium.


Predicted finish in Ohio Valley Conference: Fifth

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