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Memphis Tigers

College Football

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Memphis continues to live by its offense and that worked en route to a solid eight-win campaign in 2016, albeit ending in a shootout loss to Western Kentucky in the Boca Raton Bowl. While the offense was great (38.8 points per game), it didn’t matter against the conference’s best, as the Tigers gave up at least 42 points in all five of their losses.

To help extend that win total, the Memphis offense should be just as good as a year ago with quarterback Riley Ferguson running the show once again after a 32 TD, 10 INT and 63.2% campaign. But it’s not just him that will make this offense great with his top receivers also back in Anthony Miller (95 receptions, 1,434 yards, 14 TDs) and Phil Mayhue (677 yards, 4 TDs). On the ground, Doroland Dorceus (810 yards, 9 TDs) will lead the group again with Tony Pollard and Patrick Taylor (5.9 ypc) still around to spell him. Even better for this offense is that four linemen return so reaching 40 points per game is definitely on the table for these guys in Mike Norvell’s second season as head coach.

But getting to more wins will require the defense to step it up and that’s not a guarantee with the secondary getting gutted. Safety Jonathan Cook will be huge, but he can’t do it all and if corner Marcus Green isn’t healthy, this group will undoubtedly struggle again. The front seven will be a little more experienced with seniors Jackson Dillon and Genard Avery two of the best in the conference at linebacker. They will keep this unit from completely falling apart, but to take the next step, returnees on the line will need to do more with end Ernest Suttles a top name on the list.

Unfortunately, the 2017 schedule isn’t as easy as a year ago, at least early on with a trip to UCF at the beginning of September. Following that, Memphis has to host UCLA, which is this season’s equivalent of the 20-point loss to Ole Miss last year. But outside of those two, the Tigers should be in line for four wins before their conference slate really picks up with back-to-back games against Navy and Houston in the middle of October. That may be as hard as it gets because Memphis draws lowly UConn and ECU out of the East division, which could add another win to its season total.

The defense is still a major question, but with Ferguson leading the offense, Memphis could compete for the West division title if all goes well and that would likely mean nine overall wins in the regular season. Getting Navy at home will be a huge help after falling to the Midshipmen by 14 points last year. If the defense can improve just a little bit, the AAC title game could be waiting for them in December.


2017 Memphis Tigers Football Schedule

Aug. 31 vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 9 at UCF
Sept. 16 vs. UCLA
Sept. 23 vs. Southern Illinois

Sept. 30 at Georgia State
Oct. 6 at Connecticut
Oct. 14 vs. Navy

Oct. 19 at Houston
Oct. 27 vs. Tulane
Nov. 3 at Tulsa
Nov. 18 vs. SMU
Nov. 25 vs. East Carolina

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