2022 Memphis Tigers Preview

by Matt Fargo

Memphis Tigers

2021-22 Season Record 6-6 (3-5 American) - 4-8-0 ATS - 5-7-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 7
Defense - 6

Overview

Memphis became part of the American Athletic Conference in 2013 and finished with a 3-9 record and that still stands as the only losing record in the nine seasons there. Justin Fuente turned things around after that as he went 19-6 in a little under two seasons before going to Virginia Tech and Mike Norvell kept it rolling for four seasons before heading to Florida St. Current head coach Ryan Silverfield is in his third season as the helm and after an 8-3 inaugural season, the Tigers took a slight step backwards last season with a 6-6 record. The difference was close games as in 2020, they lost only one game by one possession while in 2021, they dropped three games by a field goal or less so if the breaks went their way, it could have been a 9-3 season. 13 starters are back which is three less than last season but some key players are part of the returnees and will look to avoid another losing AAC season, their first since 2013.

Offense

The offense took a small dip from 2020 but it was not significant as Memphis finished No. 34 overall and No. 52 in scoring, a 26 ypg and one ppg difference from the prior season respectively. The passing game led the way as the Tigers were No. 17 in the country behind one of the best freshman quarterbacks in the country in Seth Henigan as he threw for 3,322 yards with 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions and missed one game which resulted in a 17-point loss to UCF. His top two pass catchers are gone which are big losses but there was a lot of depth that returns this year so the passing game will be just fine. It is the running game that needs more production as Memphis was only No. 90 in the nation in rushing offense. It was led by another freshman as Brandon Thomas ran for 669 yards and eight scores and he will get better. The offensive line returns its center and both tackles, three key positions for this offense.

Defense

Memphis played solid defense in a few games but for the most part it was pretty bad which was an insignificant improvement from a season ago. The Tigers were No. 96 in total offense and No. 92 in scoring defense and that simply puts too much pressure on the offense. Nearly half of the starters have to be replaced including linebacker J.J. Russell who led the team with 123 tackles and seemed to be around on every play. Xavier Cullens was fourth in tackles and he will be the star of this unit and will get help from some transfers. The defense generated 25 sacks and that has to improve as sacks leader Jaylon Allen had a respectable five sacks from the middle of the defensive line but the team needs more push from the outside. The Tigers were No. 101 in passing defense but should be a lot better with the experience as they are led by safety Quindell Johnson who was second on the team with 104 tackles.

2022 Season Outlook

A .500 season is nothing to be upset about but Memphis missed out on a bowl game as the Hawaii Bowl was postponed due to COVID issues with the Warriors so the Tigers made the trip for naught which was disappointing for the seniors and ended a seven-game bowl run but that comes with an asterisk. Silverfield has not seen a huge drop off from previous teams but he could still use a big season to keep folks happy and keep the recruits coming in. He hopefully shored up the defense with a new defensive coordinator. The Tigers open with a pair of road games at Mississippi St. and Navy and a 1-1 result would be respectable. Memphis then has four straight home games and it should take the first three with fourth coming against Houston. Cincinnati is off the schedule and they get UCF at home. The O/U win total is set at 7.5 which is a tricky number but seven home games help the cause if they are to surpass that. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2022 Al McMordie's BigAl.com. All Rights Reserved.