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College Football News Preview 2020: Memphis Tigers

College Football News logo College Football News 2 days ago Pete Fiutak
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College Football News Preview 2020: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Memphis season with what you need to know.

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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense

Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats

What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction

Schedule Analysis

– Memphis Previews 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2019 Record: 12-2 overall, 7-1 in AAC

Head Coach: Ryan Silverfield, 1st year, 0-1

2019 CFN Final Opinion Ranking: 21

2019 CFN Final Season Formula Ranking: 9

2019 CFN Preview Ranking: 66

No one knows what’s going to happen to the 2020 college football season. We’ll take a general look at where each team stands – doing it without spring ball to go by – while crossing our fingers that we’ll all have some well-deserved fun this fall. Hoping you and yours are safe and healthy.

5. College Football News Preview 2020: Memphis Offense 3 Things To Know

It’s asking for a whole lot to expect yet another year of unstoppable offensive explosion. The Tigers were tenth in the nation in total offense and eighth in scoring, but UCF and SMU came up with bigger stats.

Everything clicked. Memphis was great at keeping the chains moving, the averaged close to 15 yards per completion, and they were adaptable enough to hit defenses with a variety of superstar playmakers and styles.

New head coach Ryan Silverfield is an offensive line coach kicked up to the top job, but Kevin Johns is back as the offensive coordinator.

Nah … nothing is going to change. Keeping Johns around should ensure that.

CFN in 60 Video: Purdue Preview

Memphis at Purdue, Sept. 12


The quarterback situation is settled with Brady White back after throwing for over 4,000 yards with 33 touchdowns and 11 picks, and with junior Connor Adair still the main backup waiting for his turn.

The receiving corps loses home run hitter Antonio Gibson, but Damonte Coxie is back after leading the team with 76 catches for 1,276 yards and nine scores. It’s going to take some work to restock the shelves – Kedarian Jones is done after finishing third on the team with 39 grabs, and TE Joey Magnifico is finished.

On the way is Kundarrius Taylor, Khi Mathieu and Marcayll Jones in the recruiting class to add some instant pop.

The running back corps is interesting. Kenneth Gainwell is one of the nation’s best do-it-all backs, Kylan Watkins is a nice runner who needs the ball more, and ready to roll should be Asa Martin, the former Auburn super-recruit who finally has his landing spot. Gainwell can handle most of the work, but there should be a better rotation.

The line struggled in pass protection and was 111th in the nation in tackles for loss allowed. Three starters are back around top guard Dylan Parham – who could work at center – and needing some new parts to produce right away.

NEXT: College Football News Preview 2020: Memphis Defense 3 Things To Know

4. College Football News Preview 2020: Memphis Defense 3 Things To Know

Okay, Mike McIntyre, do your thing. The former Colorado head coach worked last season as the Ole Miss defensive coordinator, and now he gets to take over a Memphis defense that was a polite rumor before finally trending up last year.

It’s all relative. The defense was just sort of bad last year after being really, really bad in previous seasons. Now it’s up to McIntyre to do even more with 14 of the top 17 tackles potentially back.

The pass rush was strong with a whole slew of tackles for loss, and there’s hope to keep it going with Joseph Dorceus back on one end and with Everitt Cunningham looking to do more after a three-sack season. The tackles have to be better against the run, but they can move.

The linebacking corps gets back Xavier Cullens, JJ Russell, Tim Pickens and Tim Hart to work around. They’re not huge, but they’re veterans who can all move.

The secondary is where McIntyre should do big things – his defensive backs are almost always strong. A few big parts are gone, but Sanchez Blake after making 69 stops at his one safety spot, and Quindell Johnson is a rising playmaker at the other. The corners have to make more picks, but Jacobi Francis is a decent veteran to start with.

NEXT: College Football News Preview 2020: Top Memphis Players

College Football News Preview 2020: Top Memphis Players

Best Memphis Offensive Player

RB Kenneth Gainwell, Soph.

The do-it-all playmaker for the high-octane offense won’t have to do as much in the loaded backfield, but he’ll be used more as a receiver. He’s not huge at 5-11 and 191 pounds, but he’s fast, slippery, and tough enough to handle the ball close to 300 times.

He led the team with 1,459 yards and 13 scores, and caught 51 passes for 610 yards and three touchdowns. He was able to catch 203 yards of passes against Tulane, and run for over 100 yards seven times, and now the new coaching staff will keep feeding him the ball.

2. QB Brady White, Sr.

3. WR Damonte Coxie, Sr.

4. OG Dylan Parham, Jr.

5. PK Riley Patterson, Sr.

Best Memphis Defensive Player

DE Joseph Dorceus, Sr.

He’s not built like an ultra-quick pass rusher, but the 6-0, 260-pounder came to Memphis as a walk-on and turned into a big-time playmaker for the improved D line. He made 45 tackles with five sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss after making 50 tackles with six sacks as a sophomore. Forget that he doesn’t look the type; his motor is always running and he’s always getting behind the line.

2. DT O’Bryan Goodson, Sr.

3. CB TJ Carter, Sr.

4. S Quindell Johnson, Soph.

5. LB Xavier Cullens, Jr.

NEXT: College Football News Preview 2020: Memphis Keys To The Season

College Football News Preview 2020: Memphis Keys To The Season

Biggest Key To The Memphis Offense

Keep the fun going. Oh sure, the defense went from totally miserable to just being sort of miserable, but that might change a bit with the new coaching staff and DC Mike McIntyre. It’s still not going to be a brick well.

Putting up huge yards doesn’t always guarantee anything when it comes to Memphis – like in the loss to Penn State – but the explosiveness certainly helps.

The Tigers averaged 6.85 yards per play – only eight other teams – teams like, LSU, Oklahoma, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State – were able to average more. That was down from the over seven yards per play they averaged in 2018, but it was still a deadly attack that kept on putting the pressure on.

It can’t slow down. Memphis has to be ready for shootout after shootout. Despite all the success over the past few seasons, this isn’t a complete team. Cranking up over 485 yards per game can help that.

Biggest Key To The Memphis Defense

For all of the good things the defense was able to do compared to previous seasons, the team still gave up more yards per game than anyone else and still got ripped to shreds on the ground.

It’s fine when the team gets into shootout after shootout, but allowing 200 yards or more five times in the last 11 games – including the 396-yard day in the Cotton Bowl loss to Penn State – wasn’t okay.

Memphis was able to win most of the games when it got rolled – it allowed 193 rushing yards in the loss to Temple – and there aren’t a slew of killer ground games to deal with for most of the season. However, the second half games against UCF, Cincinnati, Navy and Tulane will be the big tests.

Key Memphis Player To A Successful Season

C/OG Dylan Parham, Jr.

Extremely athletic for an interior blocker, the 6-3, 286-pounder could play anywhere on the line and might have the feet to work as a tackle on the right side if needed. However, with longtime leader of the front Dustin Woodard gone at center, this is where Parham could step right in.

The all-star on the field and in the classroom has everything needed to move one spot over and be the quarterback of an interesting front five. There are enough parts for the other four jobs, but replacing Woodard is the tough one.

Key Game To The Memphis Season

at Cincinnati, Oct. 31

In the new world of the post-UConn American Athletic Conference, there is no East or West – the top two teams will play for the league title. There’s a week off before facing UCF in mid-october, and a few weeks later is the date at Cincinnati in a rematch of last year’s championship.

The Tigers will play for the AAC title if they win both of those, will be out if they lose both – most likely – and will be alive if they split. Taking out the Bearcats on the road would be a huge deal with dangerous road games at Navy and Tulane still to go.

Memphis Schedule Breakdown & Analysis

2019 Memphis Fun Stats

– Red Zone Scores: Opponents 46-of-50 (92%) – Memphis 50-of-61 (82%)

– Onside Kicks: Memphis 2-of-4 – Opponents 0-for-2

– Passing TDs: Memphis 33 – Opponents 15

NEXT: College Football News Preview 2020: Memphis Win Total Prediction, What Will Happen

1. College Football News Preview 2020: Memphis Win Total Prediction, What Will Happen

Appalachian State, Wisconsin, and Boise State. Those are the only three college football programs who haven’t been to the College Football Playoff with more wins than Memphis in the CFP era.

The program hasn’t been as celebrated or as accomplished as UCF when it comes to national attention, and Boise State has had the brand name recognition after a few decades of greatness, but this has been a special run over the last six years.

Think of it this way. Memphis has won 57 games in the six-year CFP era. It won 59 from 2001 until 2013.

But it can do more.

It’s been able to win on flash, explosion, and big offensive pop, and the defense has mostly been along for the ride. If new head coach Ryan Silverfield can help the D catch up with the O, then look … out.

Set The Memphis Regular Season Win Total At … 9.5

Bet at BetMGM Win Total Line: 10

The team is going to be terrific again. The offense will keep on cranking up huge numbers, and the defense will be at least as good, if not better. However …

At Purdue, UCF, at Cincinnati. Start with those three dangerous games and go from there.

Going to SMU will be a problem. Going to Navy will be a problem. Houston and Temple will be battles, too.

This will be another good year with the expectations at American-Athletic-Conference-title-or-bust, but just pushing for double-digit victories again would be fantastic, too.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense

Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats

Schedule Analysis


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