Football revamps defense

The football team is implementing an entirely new defensive scheme for next year after hiring a new defensive coordinator in January. Kristen Allen || The News

The football team is implementing an entirely new defensive scheme for next year after hiring a new defensive coordinator in January. Kristen Allen || The News

Despite boasting the league’s top offense last season, the Murray State defense allowed more yards per game than any other team in the conference. The Racers struggled to a 5-6 record and ended the season sixth in the OVC standings.

In response to the poor defensive performance, Head Coach Chris Hatcher announced in January that former defensive coordinator Ashley Anders would not be back with the team.

After conducting an extensive search, Dennis Therrell was hired as the team’s new defensive coordinator.

While Therrell may be a new face to the current group of coaches and players, he’s not new to Murray State. The Tennessee Tech graduate served as the defensive coordinator for the Racers during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. During his two years at Murray State, Therrell’s defenses allowed the fewest points and yards per game in the conference.

After leaving Murray State, Therrell spent three seasons at the University of Las Vegas (UNLV), serving as the linebackers coach and defensive coordinator.

From 2010 to 2012, Therrell has served as a defensive positions coach for the Las Vegas Locos of the United Football League. He helped lead the Locos to a league championship in 2010 and a second-place finish the following season.

“Dennis (Therrell) is a great addition to our staff,” Hatcher said at the time of Therrell’s hiring. “He brings valuable experience that will help to develop a championship defense and championship team here at Murray State.”

With new leadership at the helm, the Racer defense will look to vastly improve upon its 2012 performance.

The defense will feature an experienced, deep group of linebackers. The group is led by seniors Qua Huzzie, who racked up 58 tackles in 2012, and Sam Small, who was a Preseason All OVC Linebacker in 2012 before missing the season due to injury.

The Racers will also look for sophomore linebacker T-Ray Malone to continue his maturation after playing in all 11 games last season and posting 51 tackles.

“We’ve got a lot of learning taking place, especially on the defensive side of the ball with our new coordinator Dennis Therrell,” Hatcher said. “But we’re very excited; we’ve got a good group of guys over there … we’ve got good effort and there’s a lot of ‘want to’ over there.”

As the defensive players continue to learn Therrell’s new scheme throughout spring practice, they will rely on their veteran presence and depth of talent as they look to improve in the 2013 season.

Story by Jonathan Ferris, Staff writer.