2020 Season Preview: Memphis Tigers
Over the course of the next several weeks, the SoBros Network crew will be going around the landscape of college football, previewing the upcoming American tackle football season. Up next, our 2020 Memphis preview!
2020 MEMPHIS PREVIEW
Believe it or not, morale for the University of Memphis football program is still at an all-time high despite losing another head coach to a more prestigious program. Former offensive line coach Ryan Silverfield took over for the departed Mike Norvell when he accepted the head coach position at Florida State and Silverfield got his first taste of big time college football when he coached the Tigers against Penn State in last year’s Cotton Bowl.
SIlverfield was given the interim tag on December 8th upon Norvell accepting the Seminoles job, but was promoted to head coach five days later in anticipation of the Tigers making their Cotton Bowl debut. The Tigers were unable to pull off the victory, but were able to show the world that they were no longer a pushover, and that at least for one day, Coach Silverfield has what it takes to coach major college football.
The 2020 edition of the University of Memphis football Tigers looks to be as explosive on offense as recent teams have. Senior quarterback Brady White and senior running back Damonte Coxie are two of the key returners from the most successful team in school history. White looks to capitalize on the record-breaking year he had in 2019. White threw for 4,014 yards and connected with nine different receivers for a total of 33 touchdowns. Coxie caught nine of those TDs and a team high 76 receptions for 1,276 yards. The chemistry the duo has will be a huge key for opposing defenses throughout the year.
Offensive Coordinator Kevin Johns returns for a second season and will have plenty of explosive weapons at his command to help ensure Memphis makes a school-record 7th bowl game in a row and contends for a second American Athletic Conference Championship. The transition in coaching changes didn’t seem to have an impact on recruiting, as Memphis recorded their best recruiting class since before Norvell and Silverfield came to town and the 2021 class even looks brighter.
The biggest challenge on the offensive side for the Tigers will be the offensive line. The OL struggled greatly in pass protection. Memphis ranked 111th in the nation in tackles for loses but returns three starters along with a new OL Coach. Coach Silverfield was quick to add Jim Bridge from Duke to take over the reigns at OL. Bridge takes over the weakest link to the Tigers offense and is expecting to make quick and successful changes.
The true key to Memphis having any chance of repeating last year’s success lies in the hands of the defense, and most importantly, in those of new Defensive Coordinator Mike MacIntyre. MacIntyre is a two-time Coach of the Year award winner and will also serve as a mentor to the new head coach. Mike spent the 2019 season as the DC at Ole Miss. During his one year in Oxford, MacIntyre was able to get the Rebels to improve in points allowed per game, run defense and scoring defense.
The defense returns seven starters from 2019 including T.J. Carter, the Tigers’ best weapon in the secondary. The Tigers easily created turnovers last year, but were quick to give up big plays. MacIntyre will be asked to bring a little more patience to a defense that is quick to act on first impulses.
The AAC will once again be a top heavy conference with Central Florida, Cincinnati and SMU looking to knock Memphis from atop the conference. Memphis’ only true out of conference test was set to come in the form of the Purdue Boilermakers, but Covid-19 came in with the upset when the game was recently cancelled.
2020 TIGERS SCHEDULE
9/5, vs Arkansas State- The Red Wolves provide a tough test for the Tigers in the season and home opener. Memphis pulls away late for the victory.
9/12, Bye- (Purdue Cancellation)
9/19, vs Houston- This version of the Cougars is a rebuilding one and should be a second victory for the Tigers.
9/26, at UTSA- Memphis travels to San Antonio to take on the Roadrunners. UTSA will bring a stingy defense to the field but their offense will struggle greatly to move the ball against the Tigers D. Memphis picks up an important road victory here.
10/1, at SMU- Memphis has a quick turn around and would be best to stay in Texas leading up to their nationally-televised Thursday night encounter with the Mustangs. SMU’s inability to run the ball will be what moves the Tigers to 4-0.
10/16, vs UCF- What could truly be a preview of the AAC Championship game, Memphis hosts the Golden Knights. If the Tigers want to play in their fourth consecutive AAC Championship game, then they must play the perfect game against UCF. It truly helps Memphis that this will be played in friendly confines of the Liberty Bowl.
10/24, vs Temple- Temple lost seven starters on defense and that’s a lot to replace even for someone like Alabama. The returning offense will be the strength of the Owls, but the now-tested Tigers will be ready and should pick up a home victory as long as they are not looking ahead to Cincinnati.
10/31, at Cincinnati- The Bearcats are the final remaining true test Memphis has in 2020. Defeating Cincy could be what puts the Tigers in the driver seat for hosting the AAC Championship game again. Memphis defeated the Bearcats in back to back games at the Liberty Bowl last year to win their first ever AAC Championship.
11/7, vs USF- Every conference has to have a bottom feeder and the 2020 AAC version looks to be USF. Barring any major injuries from the previous weeks, Memphis should pull out an easy home win.
11/14, at Navy- November in Annapolis can cause some problems, but Memphis should be able to grind out a hard victory here.
11/21- vs UT Martin- The last three weeks of the season shouldn’t be much of an issue for the Tigers. Memphis closes out their home schedule with an impressive victory.
11/28, at Tulane- Memphis travels to the Big Easy in the regular season finale. Memphis beat the Green Wave by 30 last year and should have no problems this year.
I can truly see this season going one of two ways for the Tigers. One, they could continue on the road they were on the last few seasons and continue to build from it. Or, they could struggle and sputter under a first time head coach. With the coaching staff surrounding him, I truly believe Coach Silverfield and the Tigers will have a successful year. They have essentially two bye weeks with the Purdue game now cancelled. Playing SMU, UCF and Cincinnati in a four game span is brutal, but one test this Tigers team will be ready for. I wouldn’t at all be shocked if Memphis runs the table and goes 11-0. 10-1 seems more reasonable with a loss to either UCF or Cincinnati. Regardless, 2020 will is destined to be another banner year for the Memphis Tigers football program.
OTHER 2020 SEASON PREVIEWS
Steven McCash is the Music Columnist for SoBros Network. He is the pioneer of New Music Friday, highlighting each week’s new releases in the world of music, in addition to the occasional live show review. Follow on Twitter: @MC_Cash75