Memphis Football: Tigers should repeat atop AAC West in 2018

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

Replacing two big pieces

It seems only fair to address the elephant in the room before diving into the Tigers’ list of returnees: Memphis will have to find ways to replace Ferguson (4,257 yards passing, 38 touchdowns, nine interceptions) and Miller (1,462 yards receiving, 18 touchdowns). With players of their caliber, there’s no easy way to do that. The Tigers will almost certainly lack a bit of the punch that their record-setting 2017 offense did.

Still, it feels like Norvell has earned the benefit of the doubt in crafting offenses at this point, and there’s no shortage of options to fill in for the two departed stars. At quarterback, the battle will be between promising sophomore David Moore, who was Ferguson’s backup last season, and Arizona State graduate transfer Brady White, a former blue-chipper who is immediately eligible and has two years left to play. White may be the more intriguing name, but he played sparingly in his time with the Sun Devils, and reports out of spring indicate it’s a dead heat thus far.

Miller is genuinely irreplaceable, but the Tigers do return 10 players who had at least eight catches in 2017, so there are plenty of potential pass-catchers.

The best backfield in the conference?

What’s the best way to make life easier for a new quarterback and new starting receivers? Have a backfield full of three absolute studs.

The Tigers have one of the best one-two punches on the ground that you’ll find in college football. Junior Patrick Taylor is a bruiser at 223 pounds who ran for 866 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017, while the speedy Darrell Henderson did him one better, dashing for 1,154 on an absurd 8.9 yards per carry. That’s one heck of a thunder-and-lightning duo for Memphis to lean on as they break in their new skill positions players.

We haven’t even touched on the wild card of the bunch. Junior Tony Pollard is an offensive Swiss army knife who totaled 536 receiving yards and ran for 230 more last season. The Tigers are not lacking for weapons in the backfield, and returning four of five starters on the offensive line is a good way to ensure that the ground game will keep on chugging along.