In this series we will look at the Mids football opponents for the 2016 season. Today the school we are looking at is Memphis.
Date/time/location/TV: October 22, 3:30pm EST, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis MD, CBSSN.
2015 Record: 9-4 (5-3 The American). Lost to Auburn 31-10 in the Birmingham Bowl.
Head Coach: Mike Norvell. First year at Memphis (0-0).
Series History: Navy leads the series 1-0.
Last Meeting: The first meeting between the two schools went the way of the Mids as Chris Swain rolled for 108 yards and 3 TDs in a 45-20 Navy victory.
Top Returners: RB Doroland Dorceus (Jr.) 659 yards rushing and 8 TDs. WR's Phil Mayhue, Anthony Miller, and Roderick Proctor (all Jrs) averaged 13.8 yards per catch. DE Christian Johnson (Jr.) 6.5 TFLs and 4 sacks.
Key Losses: QB Paxton Lynch, 3,778 yards and 28 TDs. LT Taylor Fallin (First-Team All-MAC) 35 career starts. MLB Leonard Pegues, 62.5 tackles, 7 TFLs, 1 sack. FS Reggie Ball, 50.5 tackles, 5 INTs, 5 pass break ups.
What You Need To Know: The biggest question for Memphis in 2016 is what does a Mike Norvell team look like?
Memphis had a remarkable three year turnaround under Justin Fuente, so remarkable that he parlayed his position into the head coaching gig at Virginia Tech replacing Frank Beamer. After hitting the jackpot with one up and comer, Memphis has tried the strategy again with Norvell coming to the program via successful coordinator jobs at Tulsa and Arizona State.
Coming from the Todd Graham coaching tree we can make some educated guesses as to what kind of offense Norvell wants to run. Memphis is going to be an up tempo team that spreads out the opposition and passes to set up the run. It is similar to what Memphis ran in 2015, but the 2016 squad is missing one component. Record setting quarterback Paxton Lynch.
The next man up is former Tennessee signee Riley Ferguson. Ferguson spent last season in Kansas at Coffeyville Community College and completed 68-percent of his passes with 35 touchdowns to six interceptions. He has the pedigree, and Memphis has some nice parts at wide receiver, but the running game was a big issue in 2015 and there is no obvious help coming for that unit.
Defensively there will also be some adjustments as Norvell bring Chris Ball with him from Arizona State. The ASU defense was an attack first unit and Ball inherits a defense that returns seven of eight defensive linemen, five of seven linebackers, and four of five defensive backs from last fall. The pieces are certainly in place and if Ball can find a dominant pass rusher or two then this defense could be scary.
2015 Stats That Matter: Offensive points per game, 11th; Defensive points per game, 67th.
Fun Fact: The Memphis band is called the Mighty Sound of the South Band.
Famous Alumni: Fred Thompson (Politician), Dixie Carter (Actress), DeAngelo Williams (NFL Player).