#74 Memphis Football 2015 Preview

Memphis Tigers

Overall Rank: #74
#4 American

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Memphis was a great story last year. Coach Justin Fuente inherited an awful team and pretty quickly turned them into champions. The Tigers, at 7-1, won a share of the AAC title and won their last seven games of the season. The lone loss in conference play came against Houston by four points and the two non-conference losses were at UCLA and Ole Miss. And the season even culminated with a thrilling double overtime victory over BYU in the Miami Beach Bowl. It was a memorable season for the Tigers. Now we will see if they can keep it up.

2014 Record: 10-3, 7-1
2014 Bowl: Miami Beach Bowl vs. BYU (W 55-48)
Coach: Justin Fuente (17-20 at Memphis, 17-20 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Dickey, Brad Cornelson
Defensive Coordinator: Galen Scott

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jarvis Cooper, RB, 388 yards
Passing: Paxton Lynch, QB, 3,031 yards
Receiving: Mose Frazier, WR, 506 yards
Tackles: Jackson Dillon, LB, 43
Sacks: Jackson Dillon, LB, 3.5
Interceptions: Reggis Ball, DB, 1; Dontrell Nelson, DB, 1

Other Key Returnees: RB Sam Craft, WR Tevin Jones, TE Alan Cross, K Jake Elliott

Key Losses: RB Brandon Hayes, WR Keiwone Malone, OL Al Bond, DB Bobby McCain, LB Tank Jakes, LB Charles Harris, DB Fritz Etienne, DL Martin Ifedi,

The Memphis offense is in good shape and there is not much standing between them and again ranking first in the AAC in scoring offense. Quarterback Paxton Lynch threw for 3,031 yards and 22 touchdowns during his sophomore season and is now an experienced signal caller. Lynch can also do damage with his legs. He rushed for 321 yards and 13 touchdowns too. Receivers Mose Frazier and Tevin Jones are back after combining to catch 80 passes for 948 yards and six touchdowns. Also back is tight end Alan Cross and four offensive linemen. The major loss on offense is running back Brandon Hayes. He did rush for 949 yards and five scores, but Memphis has plenty of running back options. Jarvis Cooper is the tough back who can be used in short yardage situations, while Sam Craft can get involved in the passing game. Keep an eye out for Doroland Dorceus. He only got 46 carries a year ago, but he averaged 5.2 yards per carry and ended up in the end zone four times. Even without Hayes, Coach Fuente has a trio of capable backs.

The problem will be on defense where just three starters return. Rush linebacker Jackson Dillon will have to emerge as the new leader after totaling 43 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season. The front seven that played so well last year is going to be young and players like defensive tackle Donald Pennington and senior linebackers Wynton McManis and Leonard Pegues will have to prove that they can be consistently productive. The secondary was a weak spot and must replace three starters. Reggis Ball is an experienced safety, but the play of the cornerbacks will go a long way in determining whether or not this team can compete for another conference crown.

The Bottom Line:
The schedule last year was pretty favorable. Memphis missed out on playing UCF and East Carolina. The only conference foe they beat who ended up with a winning record on the year was Cincinnati. But they did absolutely crush Cincinnati on the road. UCF and East Carolina are still off the schedule, but Navy is in the mix now as well. Road trips to Houston and Temple in November will likely tilt the season one way or another.

Projected Bowl: Hawaii Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 190.5 (38th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 236.6 (56, 4)
Total Offense: 427.1 (46, 3)
Scoring Offense: 36.2 (21, 1)
Rushing Defense: 121.5 (19, 3)
Pass Defense: 228.0 (62, 6)
Total Defense: 349.5 (27, 4)
Scoring Defense: 19.5 (11, 3)
Turnover Margin: 0.85 (11, 1)
Sacks: 2.31 (48, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.23 (16, 1)


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