College Football Preview: The 2015 Memphis Tigers
Memphis Tigers Preview
2014 Record: 10-3 (1st in the AAC) Won Miami Beach Bowl against BYU 55-48
Odds to Win National Championship: +120000 See the Latest Odds
Overview: The Memphis Tigers look to prove last season wasn’t a fluke, as they finished with a 10-3 record and a bowl appearance for the first time since 2008. This is a Memphis program that combined for nine wins in its three previous seasons. Simply put, football fans are excited again in Memphis and expecting big things from coach Justin Fuente and his squad.
Offense: Memphis returns seven starters from a unit that ranked 49th in total offense. The biggest starter of all is quarterback Paxton Lynch who completed nearly 63 percent of his passes for more than 3,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. Lynch, who is just the third Memphis QB to top 3,000 passing yards, will have all of his weapons on the outside, including Mose Frazier, Tevin Jones and Alan Cross. The ground game won’t be able to rely on Brandon Hayes any longer, but Jarvis Cooper should bright spots as a freshman and the return of Doroland Dorceus will also help. The Memphis Tigers offense is looking sharp.
USA TODAY Sports
Defense: The Memphis Tigers have a boatload of questions on the defensive side of the ball with only three starters returning. The Tigers lose their top-four tacklers and even watch their coordinator Barry Odom leave for the SEC. Jackson Dillon will become the face of this defense after racking up nine tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Reggis Ball will anchor a young secondary and Dontrell Nelson proved in limited playing time last season that he can make plays. Wynton McManis and Noah Robinson must grow up quickly and fit into their roles for this regrouping to work. Overall, there are a lot of questions with this young Memphis defense, and it’s going to be the reason many aren’t expecting this club to chase an AAC crown this season.
Special Teams: Jake Elliott returns at kicker after making 65.6 percent on 32 field goal attempts. Spencer Smith returns at punter averaging 40.2 yards on 58 attempts.
Overall: The only questions I have with the Memphis Tigers are on the defensive side of the ball, as replacing eight starters is a huge blow. However, having Lynch and an experienced offense that can drop points at the drop of a hat should be able to mask those shortcomings for the most part. Memphis isn’t going anywhere and shouldn’t have a problem reaching back-to-back bowl games for the first time since Tommy West coached this program.