Memphis is coming off one of its best seasons ever, finishing 11-2 with an AAC title and Cotton Bowl loss to Penn State. There may be some questions with a new coach, but Ryan Silverfield has been with the Tigers since 2016 and served in various roles in the NFL before that.
With a lot of returning offensive talent, they had an early over/under of 9.5 wins with +230 odds to win the AAC, slightly behind UCF in the now division-less conference.
Offense is Potent
The Memphis offense isn’t expected to change much, which is a good thing after averaging 485.1 yards and 40.4 points per game. While there are new faces, coordinator Kevin Johns is still around with loads of talent.
That’s highlighted by the return of quarterback Brady White after he lit up opposing defenses for 4,014 yards, 33 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 9.6 yards per attempt.
With three starters back on the line along with tight end Sean Dykes, his numbers aren’t expected to be much different.
That’s because all of the top skill players return. Running back Kenneth Gainwell is the main piece after rushing for 1,459 yards and 13 touchdowns, as well as catching 51 passes for 610 yards and three more touchdowns.
Throw in stud wideout Damonte Coxie (1,276 yards, 9 TDs) and this offense should again be near the top of the charts.
New Defensive Coordinator
The question is how the defense will look with a new coordinator and following a mediocre season in which it allowed 372.3 yards and 24.4 points per contest.
The good news is that Mike MacIntyre has loads of experience at the highest level from coaching SJSU and Colorado to most recently being the Ole Miss DC.
With seven starters returning, the defense is in a decent situation to improve even with a limited offseason. Seniors O’Bryan Goodson and Joseph Dorceus (14.5 tackles for loss) provide the strength up front, while linebacker JJ Russell is the key in the middle of the field.
Throw in one of the better cornerback duos in the conference in T.J. Carter and Jacobi Francis, and there’s talent on every level to help MacIntyre get this group going.
Under 9.5 Wins Likely
With no AAC divisions, Memphis will have a more difficult schedule this season, highlighted by trips to SMU, Cincy and Navy, but also a home game against UCF.
That’s the main reason to take under 9.5 wins and that’s before you look at the road game against Purdue early in the season. On one side, the Tigers have tons of talent and could be an even better overall team than a year ago.
However, with a more difficult schedule, things won’t come as easy. While they had 11 wins last year, they also scraped by the likes of Tulsa and SMU, in addition to losing against Temple. If the defense improves, it’d be a different story, but if not, Memphis will likely be headed for a lot of shoot outs once again.
2020 Memphis Tigers Schedule
Sept. 5 vs. Arkansas State
Sept. 12 at Purdue
Sept. 19 vs. Houston
Sept. 26 at UTSA
Oct. 1 at SMU (early preseason line MEM -4.5)
Oct. 16 vs. UCF
Oct. 24 vs. Temple
Oct. 31 at Cincinnati
Nov. 7 vs. South Florida
Nov. 14 at Navy
Nov. 21 vs. UT Martin
Nov. 28 at Tulane