Ricky’s American Athletic Conference NCAAF pick for 2017 is the Memphis Tigers.
The Memphis offense really got cooking down the stretch in 2016 scoring 51,42,34,48 and 31 in their final five games. The Tigers return 9 starters to the unit this season and should be really scary.
QB Riley Ferguson threw for almost 3,700 yards last season with a really good 32-10 TD to INT ratio. The potential is here for Memphis to do serious damage. The three headed monster is back at RB (Dorceus, Taylor, Henderson) and they combined for over 1,800 yards rushing and 16 TDs on the ground in 2016. The offensive line returns 4/5 starters and should be one of the best units in the conference. If the Tigers can cut down a bit on the sacks allowed (35 – 2016) they just might be close to unstoppable.
Speaking of unstoppable, WR Anthony Miller comes to mind, as he dominated last season with 95 catches, 1,434 yards receiving and 14 TD. Miller rolled up eight 100-yard games and headlines a fine looking group of targets this season.
The Tigers struggled mightily up front in 2016 giving up way too many yards rushing (205 per game – #10 AAC) at 5 yards a pop (also #10 AAC). They also had big problems getting penetration ranking in the bottom half of the conference in both sacks and TFL per game. A couple of starters return on the DL but we still worry about their ability to apply pressure. The LB corps looks solid as the entire starting group from last season is back including 1st Team AAC performer Genard Avery. Memphis retools in the secondary and will rely upon some new faces that spent time with Power 5 programs (Oklahoma, Missouri).
Memphis has a big hole to fill at PK as star Jake Elliott graduated and was drafted by the Bengals. Freshman Riley Patterson takes his place. The Tigers still boast a fantastic P in Spencer Smith and also have Tony Pollard returning kickoffs (2 TD last season; AAC STPOY).