Preview 2017: Memphis Tigers

Preview 2017: Memphis Tigers

American Athletic

Preview 2017: Memphis Tigers


Preview 2017: Memphis Tigers

Previewing and looking ahead at the Memphis Tigers season – and what you need to know.

Contact @PeteFiutak

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2017 Memphis Preview: After Good Year, Get Ready For Great
2017 Memphis Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Memphis Previews: 2016 | 2015

What You Need To Know About The Memphis Offense

It worked great last season and should be even more amazing now that everyone is in place – except at offensive coordinator. It’ll be up to Darrell Dickey to keep it all going now, but he’s a veteran – he has a ton of amazing pieces to work with.

It was a year of rebuilding, but the Tigers managed to crank up the production with one of the nation’s best passing offenses for an attack that averaged 464 yards per game.

It starts with the maturation of Riley Ferguson, who stepped into the starting quarterback gig and was fantastic at keeping the air show going. Getting back the top three wide receivers makes the O even more dangerous, starting with Anthony Miller and his 95 catches for 1,434 yards and 14 scores.

The pass protection has to be stronger, but four starters are back up front to provide a push for a good group of running backs with the talent to be used more. Doroland Dorceus is a big play runner, and there are more waiting in the wings.

Biggest Key To The Memphis Offense

The line has to keep the good defensive fronts from getting into the backfield. There’s too much experience and too many potential all-stars to have another mediocre season at keeping the good lines from doing big things.

The Tigers allowed 94 tackles for loss and 35 sacks a year after giving up just 17 sacks and 73 tackles for loss. Get back to the 2015 production up front, and the offensive numbers will blow up.

What You Need To Know About The Memphis Defense

The Tiger defense was great against the bad teams, struggled against the good ones, and need to find more playmakers in all areas.

Five of the top ten tacklers are gone, but there’s hope in the linebacking corps with all-star Genard Avery leading a group of big tacklers who should be able to make up for the size issues up front.

The pass rush was just okay from the front three, but the bigger problems came against the quirky running teams on the slate – everyone who could run the ball well, did. Being stronger on first downs is a must.

Even with the concerns with the front seven, that’s in better shape than a secondary that got ripped up by everyone who could walk and throw a pass at the same time. That’s why …

Biggest Key To The Memphis Defense

The secondary has to reload by late in the season. Memphis has to deal with Josh Rosen and UCLA in the third week of the season. Other than that, it has to face a whole slew of running teams, with no one else likely able to throw the ball a lick until the showdown with Houston in mid-October, and then Tulsa in early November.

With three new starters to a secondary that did a nice job last season, it might end up being the difference between a good year and a division title. Until then …

Memphis Will Be Far Better If …

The run defense keeps offenses under two bills. The offense was able to bomb its way out of plenty of problems, but it couldn’t seem to pick up the slack when the defense was getting gouged.

The Tigers allowed more than 200 rushing yards five times – those just happened to be all five losses. 23 of the 28 rushing scores were given up in those five games, too. Ever since beating UAB in 2008, Memphis is 0-25 when giving up 200 yards or more on the ground.

Best Memphis Offensive Player

QB Riley Ferguson, Sr. – While he wasn’t quite as good as Paxton Lynch, he put together a terrific season as the new guy under center, hitting 63% of his passes for close to 3,700 yards and 32 touchdowns and ten picks.

The 6-4, 210-pounder is turning into a good pro prospect of his own, with good mobility, a live arm, and the right size. With six games throwing for 300 yards or more, and after keeping down the interceptions as the season went on, he’s poised and ready for an even bigger year.

2. WR Anthony Miller, Sr.
3. C Drew Kyser, Jr.
4. OG Gabe Kuhn, Sr.
5. WR Phil Mayhue, Sr.

Best Memphis Defensive Player

LB Genard Avery, Sr. – The team’s second-leading tackler and top overall defensive playmaker are up with 81 stops, five sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and picked off two passes, taking both for touchdowns.

The 6-1, 250-pounder is a rock of a run defender with great range, doing it all from his spot on the weakside. He’s able to play anywhere in the linebacking corps and will move around where needed, but he’ll be an All-AAC star again on the outside.

2. S Jonathan Cook, Sr.
3. P Spencer Smith, Sr.
4. LB Curtis Akins, Jr.
5. DT Jonathan Wilson, Soph.

Key Player To A Successful Season

OT Trevon Tate, Jr. – The pass protection has be a wee bit stronger. With four starters returning up front there’s a nice base to be better overall, but keeping Ferguson upright is Job One. The 6-4, 280-pound Tate returns to his starting spot at left tackle after working on the right side as a freshman, and he needs to be terrific. He might not be massive, but he’s athletic enough to grow into an even more reliable part of an already good puzzle.

The Memphis Season Will Be A Success If …

It wins the American Athletic Conference title. Even after a slew of losses in the back half of last year, it was still a great year that finished with eight wins – and it was a big rebuilding campaign. This season, the coaching staff knows what it’s doing, the experience is there, and the talent is in place to come up with something huge. The schedule isn’t a problem, either – it’s all there to win the conference title. To do that, the Tigers have to win …

Key Game To The Memphis Season

Oct. 19 at Houston – There’s the UCLA game, but that’s at home and it’s a non-conference battle. The Tulsa battle will be a big shootout that should be a must win, and Navy – as always – is also a problem.

However, to win the AAC West, the Tigers have to take down Houston again – but this time, they have to do it on the road. It’s the third road trip in less than four weeks, and it’s coming on a short week. Even so, this might be the American Athletic Conference title game.

2016 Memphis Fun Stats

– Sacks: Opponents 35 for 254 yards – Memphis 23 for 132 yards
– Onside Kicks: Memphis 2-for-2 – Opponents 0-for-1
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:44 – Memphis 27:13

2017 Memphis Preview: After Good Year, Get Ready For Great
2017 Memphis Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Memphis Previews: 2016 | 2015


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