|Name||University of Memphis Tigers|
|Head Coach||Justin Fuente|
2012 In Four Sentences Or less
It says a lot about how bad Memphis was under Larry Porter that the Tigers 4-8 record marked one of the biggest improvements for a team in the country. There was a definite adjustment period under first year head coach Justin Fuente and the Tigers started out 1-8.There were some close calls during that stretch, notably against the Gus Malzahn led Arkansas State squad that went on to post 10 wins. Things started to click as the Tigers won three straight to end the year, the first three game winning streak since the 2008 season.
Who Is Coming Back?
I suppose that I should start with Jacob Karam who had a decent season behind a decent offensive line, or rather a a line that was made to look ever so slightly better courtesy of Karam's mobility in the pocket and out. Karam was competent as a passer, though not terribly efficient. Almost all of his skill positions will be back, only one senior caught a pass or ran the football, that being Marcus Rucker who lead the team in receptions and yards.
The defense also brings back their primary play makers, Martin Ifedi and Charles Harris come back, as does most of the two deep. From the finnale against Southern Miss there were only 5 seniors in the two deep, and only two of them started. The Tigers defense was dominant in the spring game, which is not that surprising.
What Will They Run?
With Karam at the helm the Tigers resembled, at times, the TCU offense with Treveone Boykin under center. There were a ton of QB runs, designed and otherwise built in. The Duke game in particular illustrates the point. All told Karam carried the ball 101 times on the year which is a heavy workload for your average QB. It should be noted that the Tigers had their biggest success when they started to vary their formations a bit. They showed a ton of different looks against Tulane, and Southern Miss. With Darrell Dickey still on board as the offensive coordinator I don't see any big changes on the horizon.
Defensively the Tigers will operate out of a 4-3 base, but they will play it aggressively. In fact a good template to think about this Memphis team is actually the Bearcats during the last 20 or so games of the Butch Jones era. Its a 4-3 base, but there is a lot of blitzing from the linebackers and the defensive backs as well.
Can You Wrap This Up? I Have Things To Do
If the Tigers were still in Conference USA they would be a very trendy pick for a big improvement. A lot of things are in their favor. It is the second year of the Fuente era, they had an exceptionally young team a year ago, they seem to have found difference makers on both sides of the ball with Karam on offense and Ifedi and Harris on defense. But they are taking a step up in the level of competition which will tamp down some of that expected improvement. UC will almost certainly be favored against the Tigers, but it is a weird game, a Wendsday nighter on the road in a venue where, historically, the Bearcats haven't had much success, (Liberty Bowl aside). The Bearcats are 4-12 in the Liberty Bowl in games against the Tigers, not a great track record. Granted these aren't those Bearcats, and UC should be favored to win and win big, but weird things happen on Wednesday nights.