Memphis Tigers College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
Memphis Tigers Biggest Key: Offense
What happened to the Memphis running game? The Tigers were just fine even though the ground attack struggled compared to previous years, but in the high-octane AAC, they need their big-play rushing identity back.
It’s not like they didn’t try; they just weren’t good at it.
The Tiger offense took a dip from the 2019 version, which took a massive leap from the 2018 ground game.
The wild 53-39 loss to Penn State in the Cotton Bowl was the only time in the 14 games in 2019 that the Tigers failed to get to 100 yards on the ground. The 2018 team only missed the 100-yard mark once in 14 games and went over 200 the other 13 times.
The 2020 rushing game failed to hit the 100-yard mark against anyone but Stephen F. Austin over the last six regular season games, and it and came up with just four touchdowns against the FBS teams.
Memphis Tigers Biggest Key: Defense
The pass defense has to be a whole lot stronger, and it should be.
Defensive coordinator Mike McIntyre is fantastic at developing defensive backs. He did it at San Jose State and then Colorado, and now he’s got work to do with a secondary that has the experience and depth, but has to hold down more teams.
The Tigers picked off 12 passes, but they also got roasted for 200 yards or more on a regular basis – getting rolled for over 600 against USC and 473 against SMU.
Fortunately there aren’t a ton of teams on the slate that can bomb away, but hosting Mississippi State early and dealing with UCF, SMU and Houston over the second half will be fights.
Memphis Tigers Key Player To A Successful Season
OT/OG Dylan Parham, Jr.
The real key player is the new starting quarterback, but that will be fine. To hammer this point home from before, the running game has to be stronger, and it starts by getting more out of the front five.
A guard early in his career, he kicked out to right tackle for a stretch, and now he’ll be the key part of the line puzzle. Will he take over Obinna Eze’s spot at left tackle, or will the – most likely – line’s best blocker really work at guard?
Start with cementing him in a home and go from there.
Memphis Tigers Key Game To The 2021 Season
at UCF, Oct. 22
Memphis finally did it.
0-13 against UCF, the Tigers overcame 703 yards of Knight offense to pull off their first ever win in the series. It was 50-49, it was a blast, and it wasn’t pretty defensively.
Now they have to do it again – but maybe D up a little.
The game is in Orlando this time around as the end of a run of three road games in four weeks. The team’s week off comes right after, and then comes the sneaky-tough finishing kick of SMU, East Carolina – don’t laugh, the Pirates might be a problem this year – at Houston and Tulane.
Memphis can win every game on the AAC slate – there’s no Cincinnati – but lose at UCF, and there might not be any margin for error.
2020 Memphis Tigers Fun Stats
– 4th Down Conversions: Opponents 22-of-33 (67%) – Memphis 14-of-24 (58%)
– Average Rushing Yards Per Game: Memphis 145.2 – Opponents 145.1
– Opponents 2nd Quarter Scoring: 101 – 3rd Quarter Scoring: 55