#41 Memphis 2018 Football Preview

Memphis Tigers
Overall Rank: #41
#3 American
 Memphis Logo
Memphis had another impressive season in 2018. The Tigers went 10-3 overall and 7-1 in AAC play, with a Liberty Bowl defeat at the hands of Iowa State. That was Memphis’ fourth straight bowl appearance. This year will be number five, but this group will be aiming for a conference title if they can successfully replace quarterback Riley Ferguson.
2017 Record: 10-3, 7-1
2017 Bowl: Liberty Bowl vs. Iowa State (L 20-21)
Coach: Mike Norvell (18-8 at Memphis, 18-8 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kenny Dillingham
Defensive Coordinator: Chris Ball
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Darrell Henderson, RB, 1,154 yards
Passing: David Moore, QB, 63 yards
Receiving: Tony Pollard, WR, 536 yards
Tackles: Curtis Atkins, LB, 88
Sacks: Bryce Huff, DL, 2.0; Jonathan Wilson, DE, 2.0
Interceptions: TJ Carter, CB, 5
Other Key Returnees: RB Patrick Taylor, TE Joey Magnifico, TE Sean Dykes, WR Damonte Coxie, OL Trevon Tate, LB Austin Hall, CB Tito Windham
Key Losses: QB Riley Ferguson, WR Anthony Miller, WR Phil Mayhue, DL Genard Avery, S Jonathan Cook
Ferguson threw for 4,257 yards and 38 touchdowns during his last season with the Tigers. Many of those receptions went to the also departed wide receiver Anthony Miller. Miller caught 96 passes for 1,462 yards and 18 touchdowns. David Moore was Ferguson’s backup last season, but only attempted ten passes. He has a strong arm and can do damage with his legs so the sophomore is in a good position to add another dynamic to the offense. Arizona transfer Brady White has more experience though and he will be in the mix. At wide receiver, Damonte Coxie and John Williams were able to show a little bit of what they could do last season and will be asked to step up this year. In the meantime, Memphis will rely more on their ground game. With four starters back on the line and a stable of talented running backs, the ground could certainly be very productive. Darrell Henderson led the nation with 8.9 yards per carry and rushed for 1,154 yards and nine scores on the year. Patrick Taylor and Tony Pollard will get carries too.
Memphis had some tough outings on defense, but with seven starters returning, there is hope for improvement. The line is where there are the most questions. Genard Avery is gone after tallying 8.5 sacks last season and that leaves no proven pass rusher on the team. Curtis Atkins, Tim Hart and Austin Hall form a great group of linebackers. The secondary returns cornerbacks TJ Carter and Tito Windham, who are both very good at creating turnovers, but there will be inexperience at safety.
The Bottom Line:
Along with Navy and Houston, Memphis will be among the favorites to win the AAC West. The Tigers were in the conference title game last year, where they lost in double overtime to UCF. And getting back is a good goal. The AAC West race will get off to a quick start when the Tigers travel to Navy on September 8th. The race could come down to the last game of the regular season when Houston comes to Memphis on November 23rd.
Projected Bowl: Birmingham Bowl
2017 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 197.1 (34th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 335.0 (7, 1)
Total Offense: 532.1 (4, 1)
Scoring Offense: 45.5 (2, 2)
Rushing Defense: 184.2 (84, 6)
Pass Defense: 282.1 (121, 10)
Total Defense: 466.2 (116, 8)
Scoring Defense: 32.5 (102, 8)
Turnover Margin: 1.15 (3, 2)
Sacks: 2.00 (65, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 1.62 (39, 8)