By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series previewing the opponents for the Ole Miss Rebels in 2015.
Outside of their matchup with the Ole Miss Rebels last season, the Memphis Tigers were quite productive on offense. They averaged 36.2 points per game, and 427.1 yards per game.
Quarterback Paxton Lynch, now a junior, grew as a player, throwing for 3,031 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Tigers finished the 2014 campaign with a 10-3 record and a win over BYU in the Miami Beach Bowl.
There are a number of returners back for the Tigers on offense in 2015 to go along with Lynch. Running back Doroland Dorceus had 237 yards on 46 carries before being sidelined for the rest of the 2014 season after the fourth game. The Tigers’ leading returning rusher is Jarvis Cooper, a 6-foot-1, 250-pounder who ran for 378 yards and four touchdowns in 2014.
Senior Mose Frazier is back at wide receiver after leading the Tigers with 47 catches for 506 yards. Sam Craft, a junior, is also back to add support at running back, where he finished with 331 yards, and at receiver where he made 15 catches. Senior Taylor Fallin leads the Tigers on the offensive line at left tackle. He has played in 31 straight games for the Tigers, and made 24 starts. Memphis lost three letter winners on the offensive line, and seven overall on offense.
Memphis returns 23 lettermen on defense, including two linebackers from Grenada in Genard Avery and Shareef White. Memphis lost 12 players from the 2014 defense, including sack master Martin Ifedi. Last year the Tigers ranked 11th in the nation in scoring defense and 19th against the run, allowing just 121.5 yards per game. Memphis is strongest in the secondary where 10 of the 23 letter winners return.
Junior place-kicker Jake Elliott is one of the best in the nation at his position. He enters the season with 192 total points on his resume’, a figure that already ranks eighth best in Memphis school history. He has made 37 of his 50 field goal attempts during his career, and all of his extra points.
Punters Nick Jacobs and Evan Michael also return for the Tigers.
Memphis coach Justin Fuente, who is entering his fourth season, said there were several spots that still needed to be filled coming out of Monday’s practice.
“Everybody on this team has things they need to get better at right now,” Fuente said. “There are very few spots nailed down right now. We have some good competition but a lot of improvement to make overall.”
The Tigers host the Ole Miss Rebels this season on Oct. 17 in the Liberty Bowl. Last season’s game that Ole Miss won 24-3 was played on Sept. 27. Memphis opens the 2015 campaign against Missouri State before traveling to play at Kansas and Bowling Green. Memphis does have an open week to prepare for the Rebels after traveling to play at South Florida on Oct. 2.