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2018

Memphis Tigers

College Football

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Memphis had a UCF problem last year and if it weren’t for the Knights, it could’ve won the AAC and been in a better bowl. Instead, the Tigers lost twice to UCF and fell to Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl. Still, with 10 wins, it was an impressive season for Mike Norvell in only his second year in charge. With some new offensive pieces, he’ll hope to return to that mark with an over/under of 8.5 wins. At the least, the Tigers were the early favorites to win the West and make the AAC title game (+250 to win AAC), according to the odds at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The clear problem for the Tigers will be replacing stud quarterback Riley Ferguson and wide receiver Anthony Miller, both of whom are in the NFL. Last year’s backup David Moore and Arizona State transfer Brady White will compete for the spot, but matching Ferguson’s 9.01 yards per attempt and 36 touchdowns will be difficult. The reason to believe this offense can come close to 40 points per game again is that the ground game can be just as good after averaging 5.9 yards per carry. In addition to four starters back on the line, all of the major ball carriers are back. Darrell Henderson (1,154 yards, 9 TDs) and Patrick Taylor (798 yards, 13 TDs) will get most of the carries, but playmaker Tony Pollard will also receive touches after running for 222 yards and catching 501 more in this offense. Pollard will have to take a bigger role in the receiving game and the same goes for Damonte Coxie and transfer Antonio Gibson. 

The offense should still score the ball plenty and that will lead to enough wins, especially if the defense can improve its 32.5 points and 282 passing yards allowed per game. There is some hope with both cornerbacks (TJ Carter, Tito Windham) and three linebackers (Curtis Akins, 88 tackles) returning. There should at least be some improvement even with two sophomores set at safety and some questions about rushing the quarterback. Jonathan Wilson is a good starting spot on the line to help keep the run defense from completely collapsing. This group gave up a ton of points last year, although a lot of that had to do with how the offense played. When needed, the defense was solid, giving up 21 points to Iowa State and 27 in a win against Navy.

Reaching 10 wins in the regular season will be tough only because of the non-conference trip to Missouri in the middle of the schedule. That’s one offense this defense probably won’t be able to deal with. An early game at Navy also doesn’t help for a defensive front that will likely have issues against the triple-option, although the experience at linebacker will help. The rematch against UCF comes in the middle of the season and again, the Memphis defense could have a problem against McKenzie Milton. Outside of those games, the Tigers should be favored in most of the others with their other road AAC games coming at Tulane, ECU and SMU, all winnable. Nine wins are on the table for the Tigers, as well as another shot at the AAC title. Getting there won’t be easy with a new quarterback, but the ground game could be good enough to reach seven or eight wins by itself.

 

2018 Memphis Tigers Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Mercer

Sept. 8 at Navy

Sept. 14 vs. Georgia State

Sept. 22 vs. South Alabama

Sept. 28 at Tulane

Oct. 6 vs. Connecticut

Oct. 13 vs. UCF

Oct. 20 at Missouri

Nov. 3 at East Carolina

Nov. 10 vs. Tulsa

Nov. 16 at SMU

Nov. 23 vs. Houston

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