Some things in Tyrone Nix’s second year as Middle Tennessee’s sole defensive coordinator are a little different than they were in his first.
Nix, who served as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for his first three seasons at MTSU, enters this year without Tennessee Titans draftee Kevin Byard and 2015 team captain and leading tackler T.T. Barber, among other graduates. Nix is also coaching his son, Ty, a defensive tackle, for the first time this season.
A former Southern Miss linebacker and USM graduate, Nix spent the 2005 season on the same staff as MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill at the University of South Carolina. Before coming to MTSU, he spent four seasons (2008-2011) as defensive coordinator and associate head coach at Ole Miss. Nix also spent 10 seasons at his alma mater, where he became the youngest coordinator in the country when he was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2001.
Does any one thing stand out about your group this year?
The thing I like most about them is they’re unproven. There’s low expectation on these guys, because people think potentially they may not be as strong as the group before. We take it as a challenge – each guy has their own individual chip, and we feel like we have something to prove. If you go out there with that mindset to prove it every day, you have something to live up to. I think that’s something these guys have rallied around.
You lost a lot of talent from last year, especially in the secondary. How do you overcome that?
What happens is you go through recruiting phases, and year in and year out you’re trying to upgrade the talent level with the kids you have on your team. Sometimes you hit and sometimes you miss. Maybe our front has to be stronger than our secondary to help compensate for some of those other position changes … but I think we’ll have a solid secondary and I think overall we’ll be a faster secondary than we were the year before.
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