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Jul. 17, 2017 - DJ Boyer

2017 Fierce 40 Previews: #30 Memphis

#30 Memphis Tigers

2016 Recap:
The Tigers finished 8-5 basically winning the games they were supposed to and losing against the tougher opponents. Memphis capped the season with a 51-31 loss against Western Kentucky in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Mike Norvell parlayed his first head coaching gig into an 8-5 campaign and looked the part of a college football head coach. There are definately some questions since he is a new coach but for the most part the offense performed well again ranking 28th in the country in total offense


The large contingent of mpeople who felt the Tiger offense would suffer after the ealr y departure of quarterback Paxton Lynch were soly mistaken. Riley Ferguson stepped in and played nearly flawless football with 3,698 yards and an impressive 32 passing touchdowns.Ferguson is now back for his senior season and he has his top two targets back in Anthony Miller and Phil Mayhue. Memphis will need to become more balanced as an offensive attack to challenge for the AAC crown. Memphis was only 84th running the football a year ago as the running game showed glimpses of being very good but lacked consistency. The offensive line is deep and will return three starters led by  center Drew Kyser.

Best Draft Prospects: Anthony Miller WR 5th Round 2018.

                                       Riley Ferguson QB 7th Round/UFA 2018.


Memphis has been known for sending some good defensive players to the next level but the unit failed to gel last season and ranked 106th in total defense at the FBS level. Most of the pressure came from the linebacking coprs shooting gaps as they defensive line failed to reach the quarterback. Genard Avery shows the most pro promise and is the top returning sack artist with 5 from the linebacker spot a season ago. Memphis is undersized as a unit and will have to rely on speed and sound tackling in order to improve their defensive standing. Jonathan Cook is the lone returning starter in the secondary. If the Tigers fail to reach the quarterback consistently it could be a long season in Memphis.

Best Draft Prospects: Genard Avery ILB 5th/6th Round 2018.                

                                       Marcus Green CB 6th Round 2019.

Special Teams:

If there is an area of concern it will be how does Memphis replace one of the best college football kickers in the country after the graduation of Jake Elliott. The answer is Memphis brings in one of the top kickers in the country in Riley Patterson. We all know the problem with kickers is recruit class rankings rarely match production. Memphis does have a solid punter and return man in Spencer Smith and Tony Pollard. If Memphis gets any production from their kicker thyey should have one of the best special teams units in the conference.


Memphis steps up and gets UCLA at home in their third game of the season. A win there would be a huge tone setter for the Tigers. Navy, SMU and East Carolina all have to travel to Memphis while conference favorite South Florida is not on the regular season schedule. This all means things should line up in the Tigers favor.

Draft and Overall Outlook:

No big first or second day picks looks like they will called from Memphis but there is plenty of third day and undrafted free agent action as we should expect about 3-4 Memphis players per year making NFL rosters. The outlook is quite good if Memphis can step up their defensive play, then they could find themselves as a ranked team fast.


DJ Boyer