The 2018 spring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Memphis Tigers.
No. 56: Memphis Tigers
Spring Practice Starts: March 17
Memphis Tigers Spring Status
With 37 wins in four years, Memphis has grown into a superstar among the Group of Five world. Last year, it lost twice to UCF – including the heartbreaker in the epic American Athletic Conference Championship loss – and closing out with a disappointing 21-20 Liberty Bowl loss to Iowa State.
And now, it’s up to rising-star head coach Mike Norvell to keep it all going without QB Riley Ferguson and the receiver combination of Anthony Miller and Phil Mayhue.
Even so, four starters are back up front, the running game should be stronger, and the defense should be far stronger with eight starters back.
With a ton of key losses at USF, and the coaching change at UCF, the window is open to take over the conference. Memphis was close last year, and while it’s hard to ask it to be even better, it just might be with a strong offseason.
Memphis Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Quarterback. Riley Ferguson was able to take over for Paxton Lynch and make the Tiger passing attack rock, throwing 70 touchdown passes over the last two seasons. Backup David Moore hit 7-of-10 passes for 63 yards and a score in mop-up duty last year, but the 6-3, 200-pounder has to be amazing to hold off Arizona State transfer Brady White.
Memphis Biggest Issue
The secondary has to be better. The Tigers got into plenty of shootouts, but it was a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. The passing game was great, and teams threw at will to keep up – and teams threw at will, and the passing game had to bomb, too. The Tigers allowed 3,667 yards and 31 scores, giving up 250 yards or more nine times, and was even hit by running Tulsa and Tulane teams.
Memphis Biggest Positive
The ground game should do more. Almost everyone is back from a ground game that averaged 5.7 yards per carry with 33 scores. Patrick Taylor ran for 866 yards and 13 scores, and Darrell Henderson led the way with 1,154 yards and nine touchdowns. Throw in Tony Pollard, who finished third on the team with 230 yards and two scores and was a great receiver out of the backfield, and the Tigers are loaded.
Really, Why Are The Memphis Tigers Ranked Here?
UCF gets back too much talent to not be the early favorite for the AAC title, but Memphis isn’t all that far behind, if at all. Once a quarterback rises up and take over, and if a group of receivers can pick up the slack without Anthony Miller, the O should be fine.
The defense was a rumor at times, but at least it returns experienced. If it’s tougher against the pass and better on third downs, look out. Another double-digit win season isn’t asking for the world.