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Memphis Football Preview
by Matt Fargo - 08/18/2008
No. 90 Memphis Tigers
2007 Record ~ 7-6 SU ~ 7-5 ATS
Starters Returning ~ Offense (7) Defense (9)
Three straight bowl games from 2003-2005 had the Tigers moving in the right direction. Then the graduation of all-everything running back DeAngelo Williams was too hard to overcome and Memphis fell to 2-10 in 2006. The Tigers rebounded very well last season, going 7-5 to make it back to a bowl game even though it was hammered by Florida Atlantic. A lot of pieces need to be replaced after last year but the Tigers are confident that a fall like the one that occurred two years ago is not going to happen again.
The good news is that the Tigers possess arguably the best group of receiver in the conference as Duke Calhoun, Carlos Singleton, Maurice Jones, Steven Black and Earnest Williams combined for 3,141 yards last season. The bad news is that a new quarterback needs to be broken in so getting them the ball might be a problem. The running game was a disappointing 74th in the nation last season and the health of running back T.J. Pitts will go a long way in improving that output.
Memphis lost two games that it scored 31 and 40 points and after allowing 44 points to the Owls in the New Orleans Bowl, something had to be done. Head coach Tommy West hired former Miami defensive coordinator Tim Walton to try and bring back some of the swagger that has been missing. The Tigers bring back nine players from a defense that ranked 100th overall and 103rd in rushing so big changes need to be made. The problem is that the unit is on the field for too long due to the offensive style that Memphis utilizes.
The annual game against Mississippi starts off the 2008 season on the road but then three of the next four games are at home with the lone road game being a swing game at Marshall. After a winnable game at UAB, the Tigers host four of the final six games including Louisville and Central Florida. Memphis misses Tulsa completely which is a huge scheduling edge. Backing the Tigers in their early conference games could be the way to go since they are against teams ranked below them in the preseason rankings.