Memphis Tigers 2013 College Football Preview
2013-08-18 06:00:00 EDT
The Memphis Tigers hope to build on last year’s late season three game win streak as they enter a new conference. The Tigers return key players on the offensive side of the ball but will rely on their defense — a unit that came on very strong at the end of last year when some younger players were thitemn into action.
OFFENSE: The Memphis Tigers offense struggled to find an identity last season averaging just under 320 yards per game and often being outscored easily by opponents.The Tigers return quarterback Jacob Karam who threw for over 1800 yards, 14 TDs and just 3 picks last season. Karam looks to be in for a big 2013, but will need to find repoire with a new crop of receivers that is likely to be led by Keiwone Malone. Malone hauled in 3 touchdowns last season and will certainly be a feature of the offense via the departure of most of the Tigers’ wideouts. Alan Cross proved to be a reliable target for Karam and returns as well. The running back position is anchored by Brandon Hayes and will occasionally feature back up Jai Steib. Both backs rushed for 6 td’s last season and should serve as reliable targets for this offense.
DEFENSE: The Tigers defense ranked 50th nationally last year in total defense and returns key anchors who fueled this unit last season. The Tigers return both linebackers and leading tacklers Charles Harris and Anthony Bitemn. Memphis returns three starting d-lineman and will rely on safety Lonnie Ballentine to mentor a young crop of db’s that will all be forced into immediate action. Ballentine had 66 tackles and 3 picks last year. Keep an eye on strong safety Reggis Ball who is penciled to start and showed flashes at times throughout his freshman year.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Tigers will work this summer to find a new place kicker. An important position for any team, the Tigers will have a competition between multiple freshman for the position. Ray Guy Award finalist Tom Hornsey returns at punter and brings his 43.3 yards per punt average with him. The Tigers will feature Keiwone Malone at punt returner but expect speedster and former Clemson wideout Joe Criag to factor into the return game.
OUTLOOK: The Tigers took some lumps early last year but really began to take on head coach Justin Fuente’s identity as the season wore on. Memphis averaged nearly 40 points per game in its final three games and held opponents to just under 20 points. With most players who contributed back and another off season under their belts, the Tigers should make a push for a low level bowl berth this year. I like the Tigers to get to 6 wins and return to the post season for the first time since 2008.