June 7, 2018 7:01:05 AM
Every day from 99 days out (May 25) until kickoff, I'll put up a post telling you how many days until kickoff and breaking down something about the upcoming season related to that number.
Today, since we are 86 days away from kickoff, we take a look at: MSU had 86 tackles for a loss last year. Where did that rank, how have Shoop defenses done in that regard and make a prediction for MSU's tackles for a loss number this year. (Factor in awesome defensive line.)
First, let's look back on those 86 tackles for a loss. That ranked tied for 37th in the nation (tied with Duke and Washington). Montez Sweat was a big help as he ranked 32nd in the nation among individuals with 15.5; Jeffery Simmons had 12 and Gerri Green had 11. For context, East Carolina finished last in the nation with 39 tackles for a loss; those three combined for 38.5.
The new era? You're allowed to have high expectations. When one looks at Shoop's last seven seasons as a defensive coordinator -- three at Vanderbilt, two at Penn State and the most recent two at Tennessee -- Shoop's defenses have ranked in the top 30 in tackles for a loss in all but two of those years: his first year at Vanderbilt, his first as a FBS defensive coordinator, and last year at Tennessee, where he was in an all-encompassing dumpster fire. When he's had serious talent, like he will this year, he's been at the top: his 2012 defense ranked 11th (97), 2015 ranked 6th (106) and 2016 defense -- in his first year at a new school -- ranked 15th (100).
And now for the hard part: predicting a tackles for loss total. Last year's 86 was pretty good, and I see a lot of reason to be better:
- Shoop is pretty good at this, as detailed earlier, so no need to worry there.
- The returning talent is obvious, and Jeffery Simmons won't have a labrum injury this year (in theory).
- I really think MSU is going to get some big impact out of second-teamers: Chauncey Rivers, Kobe Jones, etc., that will drive this number up.
- Finally, the schedule. Trading Georgia for Florida should be nice for TFL production numbers. I'd call the non-conference schedule a wash in this regard, but I can allow a case to be made for playing Kansas State boosting potential TFL production.
My final tackles for a loss guess: 99. That would've ranked top 15 in the nation in four of the last five seasons.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson