It’s never easy to have to lose your head coach, especially when it comes just weeks before the biggest game in program history.
With Mike Norvell leaving Memphis to become the head coach of the Florida State Seminoles, it left the Tigers with quite a large hole to fill and myriad of options of people to fill it.
Shortly after the Norvell’s departure was announced, offensive line coach and assistant head coach, Ryan Silverfield, was named as the team’s interim head coach, much to the pleasure of his players.
Silverfield has been with the team for the last four seasons and has not only had success as a coach but has been instrumental in recruiting.
Through the relationships that he’s built through recruiting, it’s made him to be one of the player’s favorite coaches, specifically starting left tackle, Obinna Eze.
In a feature done by ESPN about Ryan Silverfield, Eze explained what made Silverfield different than other coaches he’s worked with.
"None of the coaches that recruited me wanted to know anything about my family back home," Eze said. "Coach Silverfield knew my parents. He talked to my mom on the phone multiple times. He knew how many sisters I had. He would often, randomly, text me stuff in my language. He started getting proficient with a few words."
Antonio Gibson effectively summed up the feelings of the locker room when it came to who they wanted to be their head coach.
"Everybody respects him,” Gibson said. “I don’t think anybody here wanted anybody from the outside coming in.”
So, when Silverfield was named the team’s head coach, he was met by an uproar of praise from his team.
As exciting of a moment, it was for the program, just because player’s get what they want, it doesn’t always parlay to success.
Silverfield acknowledged this is in his introductory press conference and assured fans that things will stay the same.
"I want you all to know, this program is going to continue to go in the right direction," he said. "We're going to do it the right way at all times."
The Tigers may not have gotten a win to start ‘Age of Silverfield’, but they had an inspired performance in their 53-39 Cotton Bowl defeat.
The offense was still lethal, gaining 542 yards and scoring three touchdowns. However, it was the play of Riley Patterson who converted on all six of his field goal attempts for a total of 21 points.
The defense on the other hand struggled quite a bit, especially when it came to stopping the run. The Nittany Lions had 396 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns by the end of the game.
Even in defeat, Silverfield never let his team get down or lost confidence in this squad and that’s what till keep the players in his corner.
With Silverfield leading this team, the Tigers will still be able to keep their same level of the success and learn from this loss as they prepare for more big changes that will come in the 2020 season.