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2014 Memphis Recruiting Class Analysis

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 6, 2014


Memphis Tigers 2014 ... Head Coach: Justin Fuente


Memphis Tigers

2013 Record: 3-9
8/31 OPEN DATE
9/7 Duke L 28-14
9/14 at Middle Tenn L 17-15br /> 9/21 Arkansas State W 31-7
9/28 OPEN DATE
10/5 UCF L 24-17
10/12 at Houston L 25-15
10/19 SMU L 34-29
10/26 OPEN DATE
10/30 Cincinnati L 34-21
11/9 UT Martin W 21-6
11/16 at USF W 23-10
11/23 at Louisville L 24-17
11/30 Temple L 41-21
12/7 at Connecticut L 45-10


The 2014 Recruiting Class

Team Concerns For 2014: Every phase of the offense. The main reason why the Tigers went 0-5 in games decided by 10 or fewer points was that the offense couldn’t carry its weight. It averaged just 19 points per game, lacking the consistency and pop needed to take some of the heat off of a defense that routinely overachieved. Rookie QB Paxton Lynch didn’t progress as expected, and if he remains ineffective this spring, head coach Justin Fuente will need to have a provision in place before fall camp.

The 2014 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. Isadore Outing, Chris Matthews and Caleb Grant form a dangerous trio of pass rushers with outside linebacker size and great speed. Safety Brujoun Bonner is a big safety option, and outside linebacker Shareef White will eventually be a quick playmaker. Can any of the three quarterbacks play? Clay Hologorson is for the future, but JUCO transfer Jason Stewart is coming in to provide depth for now. The offensive line gets some help with 6-3, 330-pound JUCO guard Tyler Uselton leading the way.

2013 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 98. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players. Make this a third time in four years that Memphis picked up several skill players, but Justin Fuente really went nuts trying to improve the overall athleticism and team speed. JUCO receivers Joe Craig and Adrian Henderson are for now, but E.A. Watkins, running back Marquis Warford and quarterback Brayden Scott are for a few years from now. there aren't many standout running backs, but there are plenty of them with a few certain to be moved over to the defensive backfield. Offensive tackle George Roberts might be the team's best recruit, but JUCO transfers Will Dancy and Nykiren Wellington are going to fill out the depth early on.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 86. That Class Was Heavy On ... After going after skill players over the last two classes, Memphis will be hitting the defensive side hard. New head coach Justin Fuentes has to upgrade the offensive line to allow all the young playmakers to shine, and while the Tigers should be fine for the next year or so, Fuentes needs players to develop for 2014. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 73. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players. What do you get for the team that needs everything? Everything. Larry Porter sprinkled in a few linemen here, a couple of defensive backs there, and a lot of skill players to try to jump-start the offense sooner than later. Big passers Domonique Harris and Taylor Reed will fight it out for time in the near future, but running back Artaves Gibson will be expected to see work immediately and the hope will be for Ryan Byrd and/or Jermaine Johnson to be a No. 1 receiver early on.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 78. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. New head coach Larry Porter isn't going to start out his era without any firepower. JUCO running back Ketarus Stanton and running back Jerrell Rhodes and Sean Farr from Hargrave Military Academy might be plugged in immediately. It'll be an interesting battle for the starting quarterback gig with four passers brought in. Kevin Wright is the best of the bunch, but JUCO transfer Andy Summerlin is ready right now. He'll be in spring ball and might have the inside track for the No. 1 spot.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 95. That Class Was Heavy On ... offensive linemen. Faced with some turnover in the trenches, Tommy West aimed to keep the area replenished by inking five linemen no smaller than 6-4 and 275 pounds. Of the group, G Ricky Hart really has Tiger fans excited. A 6-3, 315-pound drive blocker, who was pursued by the ACC and SEC, he’ll likely spend just one year as a backup before moving into the starting lineup.

at Connecticut 45, Memphis 10
Basically … Memphis scored first on a 43-yard Jake Elliott field goal, and then it was all Connecticut. The Huskies went on a run of 31 points with Lyle McCombs scoring on an 11-yard touchdown pass and a seven-yard scoring run. Casey Cochran threw four touchdown passes with Deshon Foxx scoring from 18 and 32 yards out, and Geremy Davis catching a 15-yard touchdown pass. Memphis only got into the end zone on a ten-yard Keiwone Malone catch in the third, but the Huskies had the game in hand.
- Connecticut QB Casey Cochran completed 36-of-54 passes for 461 yards and four scores.
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch
- Connecticut WR Geremy Davis caught 15 passes for 207 yards and a score, and Deshon Foxx caught 11 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
- Total Yards: Connecticut 538 – Memphis 257

Temple 41, at Memphis 21
Basically … Temple’s offense caught fire with Chris Coyer catching a 75-yard touchdown pass and P.J. Walker finishing with four scoring throws with three to Robbie Anderson from one, 11 and 21 yards away. The special teams got into the act, too, with Michael Felton recovering a blocked punt for a score to help the Owls pull away in the third. Memphis got three touchdowns from Sam Craft on two short runs and a ten-yard scoring catch from Paxton Lynch. The Tigers got within ten late in the third, but Temple scored ten unanswered points to close.
- Temple converted 8-of-19 third down tries and Memphis converted 2-of-12
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 20-of-32 passes for 328 yards and four scores with a pick.
- Memphis’ Sam Craft led the team with seven catches for 62 yards and a sore, and he ran three times for no yards and two scores.
- Temple WR Robbie Anderson caught seven passes for 96 yards and three scores.

at Louisville 24, Memphis 17
Basically … The Cardinals got up 24-3 in the third quarter and coasted from there, even though Memphis came up with a late push. Preston Brown returned a fumble for a score in the first quarter, DeVante Parker caught a 39-yard touchdown pass and Dominique Brown ran for a four-yard score. Memphis scored 14 points in the fourth with Paxton Lynch running for a score and finding Jesse Milleson for a six-yard touchdown, but the Cardinals hung on.
- Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater completed 26-of-36 passes for 220 yards and a score.
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 11-of-23 passes for 144 yards with a score with a pick, and he ran eight times for 26 yards and a touchdown.
- Memphis converted 2-of-12 third down chances and gained just 279 yards. Louisville converted 11-of-19 third down tries.
- Louisville RB Dominique Brown ran 17 times for 54 yards and a score. The team averaged 3.1 yards per run.

Memphis 23, at South Florida 10
Basically … Memphis took advantage of five USF turnovers with Bobby McCain taking a pick 36 yards for a touchdown and Brandon Hayes scoring from five yards out to take control of the game. Jake Elliott made three field goals including a 56-yard bomb on the way to a 23-3 lead. USF didn’t get into the end zone until the final minute on a 31-yard Andre Davis catch.
- Memphis RB Brandon Hayes ran 20 times for 78 yards and a score.
- South Florida turned it over five times with four interceptions. MU’s Bobby McCain came up with three picks, taking one for a score.
- South Florida WR Andre Davis caught seven passes for 110 yards and a score.
- Memphis finished with just 242 yards of total offense with nine penalties and two turnovers. South Florida came up with 325 yards of total offense with nine penalties.

at Memphis 21, UT Martin 6
Basically … It took a little while, but Memphis finally woke up and put the game away in the fourth quarter with a Brandon Hayes 12-yard touchdown catch and an eight-yard Sam Craft scoring run in the final eight minutes. Paxton Lynch ran for a six-yard touchdown and threw a scoring pass as the Tigers scores 21 unanswered points after UTM held a 6-0 lead on two Jackson Redditt field goals.
- The Tigers committed 12 penalties for 123 yards and turned the ball over twice. UTM only committed six penalties and turned it over two times.
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 15-of-22 passes for 189 yards and a score with a pick, and he ran for a score. Brandon Hayes ran 27 times for 105 yards and caught two passes for 15 yards and a touchdown.

Cincinnati 34, at Memphis 21
Basically … Brendan Kay threw for 321 yards and a score and Tion Green added two short touchdown runs as Cincinnati got up 21-7 midway through the third quarter, but it was a fight to hang on. Memphis started out the scoring late in the first quarter on a seven-yard Tevin Jones catch, and pulled within six late in the fourth on a 31-yard run from Brandon Hayes, but the Bearcats close with Green’s second touchdown run putting it away.
- Cincinnati QB Brandon Kay completed 27-of-35 passes for 321 yards and a score with a pick.
- Cincinnati S Zach Edwards led all tacklers with 11 stops, a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 17-of-33 passes for 140 yards and two scores with a pick.
- The Tigers converted just 2-of-12 third down chances. Cincinnati converted 11-of-17 tries.

SMU 34, at Memphis 29
Basically … SMU hung on for dear life after almost blowing a 34-3 lead. The Mustangs cranked up 24 points in the second quarter with Traylon Shead running for two one-yard scores, and Garrett Gilbert hitting Collin LaGasse for an eight-yard touchdown pass and starting out the scoring with a 79-yard pass play to Keenan Holman. But it was all Memphis over the final 17 minutes, scoring 27 unanswered points starting with two fumble returns for scores from Ryan Coleman. The offense got in the act with two late touchdowns, but the final score – an eight-yard catch from Mose Frazier – came with no time left on the clock.
- SMU got the win. The turnovers were disastrous, and the offense collapsed late, but the Mustangs came away with a desperately needed victory to keep the season alive. Garrett Gilbert threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns with a pick. It would’ve been nice to have put this away up 31-3, but again, it’s a win, and SMU had to have it.
- Paxton Lynch and the Memphis offense came alive way too late. He hit 26-of-36 passes for 198 yards and a score with a pick with absolutely nothing big happening down the field. The SMU defense isn’t a brick wall; the Tiger O should’ve worked better.
- It’s not like Memphis is hard luck, but at 1-5, it’s overdue for a strong performance and a little luck. This kicked off a homestand with a rough loss, and now it has to come up with a win over Cincinnati and UT Martin to follow before going on the road for three of the final four games.
- SMU got its first AAC win, and now it gets a nice break with Temple up next and Connecticut coming up soon. If the Mustangs can beat Cincinnati on the road, they could go on a very, very nice run. Remember, they don’t play Louisville.

at Houston 25, Memphis 15
Basically … Houston rallied with 15 unanswered points on a one-yard Kenneth Farrow run late in the third and a six-yarder in the fourth. Memphis outgained the Cougars 349 yards to 247, but it turned the ball over four times and had to settle for five Jake Elliott field goals. The last two Elliott kicks came in the third quarter, but the Tigers failed to score over the final 19-plus minutes.
- Houston was bad, the offense didn’t function, and there wasn’t enough pop, but it came away with an ugly win. Memphis has a decent defense, and the Cougars survived thanks to the big plays from its own D, recovering four fumbles.
- The Tiger defense did its job, keeping the Cougars to just 247 yards and 38 on the ground, but the offense failed time and time again with too many drives stalling. Jake Elliott had a huge performance with his five field goals, but Memphis wins if it can convert two of those drives into touchdowns.
- Four fumbles, 12 penalties, and too many misfires. Memphis isn’t good enough to get by with so many errors. The team is far better than 2012, but 1-4, the record doesn’t reflect it.
- Houston might not be pretty, and there might not be any consistency to the running game, but at 5-0, the results are terrific. To get by BYU and Rutgers over the next few weeks, the passing attack has to be more accurate after John O’Korn completed just 13-of-30 passes for 198 yards and a score, and penalties have to slow down.

UCF 24, at Memphis 17
Basically … UCF struggled, but it caught a few breaks late with lineman Chris martin falling on a fumble for a score to tie the game at 17 with just 2:05 to play, and then Drico Johnson took a fumble off the ensuing kickoff for the winning touchdown. Memphis got touchdown runs from Brandon Hayes and Sam Craft, but couldn’t hang on in the final moments.
- This was when Memphis could’ve made a huge, HUGE statement. The Tigers outplayed the Knights in every way except special teams, and they had the chance to pull off the big win, but they couldn’t close. Now it’s going to be really, really tough at 1-3 to find the wins needed to get to a bowl.
- Call this a hangover for UCF. After the tough South Carolina loss, the Knights didn’t show up on offense and seemed sluggish for most of the game. Fortunately, four takeaways kept them alive, and the big plays late saved the day. Sometimes, good teams need to get through games like this on the way to a conference title.
- Blake Bortles wasn’t quite right, completing just 17-of-36 passes for 160 yards, and he wasn’t able to make the passing game shine down the field. The offense didn’t go anywhere.
- The Memphis defense wasn’t able to come up with any takeaways, and there wasn’t any pass rush, but it did a great job of bottling everything up. The Tigers kept Storm Johnson to 86 yards and held UCF to 270 yards, but the offense made too many mistakes with three picks and a key lost fumble.

at Memphis 31, Arkansas State 7
Basically … Memphis got the offense rolling early with a six-yard Brandon Hayes run and a six-yard scoring grab from Alan Gross, and after Arkansas State came up with a 15-yard J.D. McKissic touchdown catch, it was all Tigers the rest of the way with 17 unanswered points. The Tiger offense put the game away on a five-yard Sam Craft scoring run and a 16-yard Marquis Warford dash.
- Where did that come from? All of a sudden, everything clicked for the Memphis offense, with Paxton Lynch throwing smartly and effectively, and the running game rolling at will. Marquis Warford tore off a 63-yard dash on the way to 173 yards on just 11 carries. Everything worked when it needed to.
- What happened to the Arkansas State attack? The passes went nowhere and the running game was completely bottled up. David Oku couldn’t break free, running 12 times for 45 yards.
- Could this be the game the Tigers use to build on? It was sharp, effective and energetic with everything working when it needed to. If the offensive line keeps playing like this, MU will be dangerous.
- Where was the ASU run defense? After a wild win over Troy, the team was sluggish and didn’t seem to ever get into the right position. Memphis did whatever it wanted.

at Middle Tennessee 17, Memphis 15, Sept. 14
Basically … Cody Clark hit a 41-yard field goal with just under two minutes to play to give Middle Tennessee the lead, and the defense came up with key sacks late to stop Memphis from getting back into field goal range. Jake Elliott hit three field goals for the Tigers, and Alan Cross gave them the lead with a one-yard touchdown catch after Middle Tennessee took an early lead on a seven-yard Kyle Griswould touchdown catch and a one-yard Jordan Parker run.
- Middle Tennessee held firm when it had to. The offense didn’t work in the second half, but when the team needed a game-winning drive, it came up with one and the defense closed. It wasn’t a pretty effort, but it was a very, very nice win that will be a big deal down the road for bowl hopes.
- Memphis is going to kick itself. It outplayed Middle Tennessee, but it couldn’t convert enough good, deep drives into touchdowns, settling for three field goals, and the 15 penalties and two turnovers were sloppy. The Tigers had this game, and blew it.
- The Blue Raiders couldn’t establish the run, but the Memphis defensive front had a lot to do with that. Jordan Parker couldn’t break free outside of one nice dash, and the offense abandoned the ground game at times.
- The Memphis running game worked, and Paxton Lynch threw well, completing 19-of-27 passes, but everything was controlled and underneath. The offensive line struggled with the Blue Raider pass rush.

Duke 28 at Memphis 14, Sept. 7
Basically … The Blue Devils and the Tigers traded scores for the first 50 minutes, taking a deadlocked game into the waning moments on Saturday afternoon. However, Duke pulled away for the win in the Liberty Bowl, scoring the game’s final 28 points on touchdown passes from backup QB Brandon Connette.
- If it didn’t know it already, Duke learned in Memphis that it has two quarterbacks who can engineer wins this season. Connette, used mostly as a situational runner up to this point in his career, was poised going 14-of-21 for 198 yards and those two scores.
- The season opener for Memphis also marked the debut of starting QB Paxton Lynch. He was expectedly erratic, finishing 14-of-24 for 148 yards, without a touchdown or an interception.
- The veteran Duke O-line had problems with an underrated Memphis front wall, especially DE Martin Ifedi, who
- It wasn’t pretty, but the Blue Devils won a road game that was tied in the fourth quarter. Past Duke teams would’ve found a way to lose this kind of a game.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … sure, the Tigers went 4-8 a year ago, but they also finished with a three-game winning streak for the first time in seven years. The program has a head of steam, a fresh face on the sidelines, Justin Fuente, and a new home in the Big East. While no one is ready to book hotel rooms for the postseason, Memphis has reason for optimism in football for the first time in a long time.

Why To Be Grouchy … competing in Conference USA was a perennial uphill battle for Memphis. Climbing the ladder in the Big East will be even tougher. Fuente and his staff did a commendable job in 2012, but the Tigers are still very light on talent in all phases of the game. They’re going to need recruit a far better caliber of athlete in order to turn moral victories into the kinds that routinely impact the standings.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … igniting the offense. Against Conference USA competition, the Tigers still managed just 318 yards a game, good for 110th nationally. The challenge for offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey gets markedly tougher this fall. It’ll be incumbent upon RB Brandon Hayes to pick up where he left off last November, while senior QB Jacob Karam does a better job of stretching out opposing defenses.

Team Concerns For 2013: Justin Fuente gets a ton of starters back just in time for the move to the Big East, and now he has to get his offense to work. The plus should be a decent line that gets back four starters, but the passing game that cranked out a mere 167 yards per game has to do more. It came up some big plays down the field, but there wasn't enough production when the defense was giving up points in bunches. 318 yards of total offense isn't going to get it done in the new league.

Non-Conference Games: Duke, at Middle Tennessee, Arkansas State, UT Martin
Realistic Best Case Record: 6-6
Worst Case Record: 1-11
Likely Finish: 3-9

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: at Middle Tennessee, UT Martin, Temple

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: Duke, Arkansas State, UCF, at Houston, SMU, Cincinnati, at USF, at Louisville, at Connecticut

Schedule Analysis: The Tigers are picking the wrong time to upgrade the schedule. However, for most BCS teams, starting out against Duke, Middle Tennessee and Arkansas State wouldn’t be a problem, and the Tigers might be underdogs in all three games. They only leave the state once from the start of the season until November 16th, but then comes the payoff going on the road for three of the final four games dealing with USF, Louisville and Connecticut while hosting Temple. Missing Rutgers is a big break.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Skill players. Make this a third time in four years that Memphis picked up several skill players, but Justin Fuente really went nuts trying to improve the overall athleticism and team speed. JUCO receivers Joe Craig and Adrian Henderson are for now, but E.A. Watkins, running back Marquis Warford and quarterback Brayden Scott are for a few years from now. there aren't many standout running backs, but there are plenty of them with a few certain to be moved over to the defensive backfield. Offensive tackle George Roberts might be the team's best recruit, but JUCO transfers Will Dancy and Nykiren Wellington are going to fill out the depth early on.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 86. That Class Was Heavy On ... After going after skill players over the last two classes, Memphis will be hitting the defensive side hard. New head coach Justin Fuentes has to upgrade the offensive line to allow all the young playmakers to shine, and while the Tigers should be fine for the next year or so, Fuentes needs players to develop for 2014. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 73. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players. What do you get for the team that needs everything? Everything. Larry Porter sprinkled in a few linemen here, a couple of defensive backs there, and a lot of skill players to try to jump-start the offense sooner than later. Big passers Domonique Harris and Taylor Reed will fight it out for time in the near future, but running back Artaves Gibson will be expected to see work immediately and the hope will be for Ryan Byrd and/or Jermaine Johnson to be a No. 1 receiver early on.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 78. That Class Was Heavy On ... Quarterbacks. New head coach Larry Porter isn't going to start out his era without any firepower. JUCO running back Ketarus Stanton and running back Jerrell Rhodes and Sean Farr from Hargrave Military Academy might be plugged in immediately. It'll be an interesting battle for the starting quarterback gig with four passers brought in. Kevin Wright is the best of the bunch, but JUCO transfer Andy Summerlin is ready right now. He'll be in spring ball and might have the inside track for the No. 1 spot.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 95. That Class Was Heavy On ... offensive linemen. Faced with some turnover in the trenches, Tommy West aimed to keep the area replenished by inking five linemen no smaller than 6-4 and 275 pounds. Of the group, G Ricky Hart really has Tiger fans excited. A 6-3, 315-pound drive blocker, who was pursued by the ACC and SEC, he’ll likely spend just one year as a backup before moving into the starting lineup.

 

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