College Football Preview: The 2014 Memphis Tigers
Memphis looks for continued improvement in 2014.
2014 College Football Preview
The Memphis Tigers look to take the next step in Justin Fuente's third season on the sideline.
Overview: The Tigers were 3-9 a year ago which certainly wasn't good on paper but the defense was solid although the offense wasn't. Memphis did not win a close game and if the offense can improve and a few close ones go in their favor a Bowl isn't completely out of the question.
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Offense: Paxton Lynch actually looked good at times under center despite being a red shirt freshman in 2013. Lynch tossed 2,056 yards and ran for 311 but completed only 58% of his throws with nine scores and ten picks so there were mistakes. Lynch will have plenty of weapons at his disposal with the eight top receivers back while Brandon Hayes (201-860) was the workhorse on the ground. Doroland Dorceus (30-173) might be the guy to add some explosiveness to the rushing attack with five along the line bringing back starting experience.
Defense: The Tigers defensive line was solid all around a season ago and should be once again with the top four returning with DE Martin Ifedi recording 14.5 TFL and 10.5 sacks while his counterpart Ricky Hunter posted 12.5 TFL and 4.5 sacks. The top three linebackers are also back in 2014 so the front seven should be in good shape once again. The secondary also has experience but the pass defense will take a hit with both starting safeties graduating. The problem in 2013 was the defense as a whole struggled late in the year.
Special Teams: The Tigers need a punter but placekicker Jake Elliott was an outstanding 16-18 on FG including 7-8 from 40+ yards. Joe Craig and Keiwone Malone will handle kick and punt returns respectively.
Outlook: I think the Memphis defense will easily be the best unit on the field as the offense should improve but are still way behind. I don't think this will be the year Memphis comes up big but they are not too far away.