With a new season of college football upon us, the Memphis Tigers find themselves in an unusual position: the favorites. As the team prepares to challenge Ole Miss this Saturday, expectations are higher than ever for a program that has focused on rewriting its record these past few years.
Before any talk of a New Year’s Six bowl game can become legitimate, the Tigers must overcome an SEC foe that still has plenty of talent. X-factors on both teams will ultimately determine who walks away with the win.
Brady White: The second-year starter will be building off his 2018 performance. Last year he passed for over 3,200 yards and 26 touchdowns. While the team’s offensive style switched to a more ground-heavy approach in his first semester as a starter, White that he can be a smart and accurate player when he doesn’t try to be flashy. With a variety of weapons at his disposal, it will be crucial that he limits his mistakes and distributes the ball efficiently against a fast Rebels defense.
Patrick Taylor Jr: With Darrel Henderson and Tony Pollard departing to the NFL, Taylor looks to be the head monster of Memphis’ running game. While this will be his first run as a full-time starter, he is no stranger to playing a key role. The Texas native rushed for 1,122 yards in 2018 and finished second on the team with 16 touchdowns. Taylor, along with backup Kenny Gainwell, will serve as the engine for an offense that scores a whole lot of points. His success in carrying the ball will impact Saturday’s outcome.
Bryce Huff: Huff, who leads the team in tackles for loss (19) and sacks (9.5), will be eager to create havoc for an Ole Miss offense led by new offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez. Huff, who sits on the Bednarik Award Watch List for defensive player of the year, is entering his senior season and will be a prime playmaker in new defensive coordinator Adam Fuller’s unit.
Momo Sanogo: A junior inside linebacker from Plano, Texas, Sanogo is the leader of a Rebels defense that will be hoping to snuff the hype surrounding Memphis and its postseason aspirations. Sanogo finished fifth in the SEC with 112 total tackles as a sophomore. He was recently added to the Butkus Award Watch List for best linebacker in the country. Sanogo will be shouldering a lot of responsibility as his team switches to a new scheme under new defensive coordinator Mike McIntyre. So far, it seems like he’s ready for it.
Elijah Moore: Like the Memphis backfield, the Ole Miss receiving corps is going to look a lot different in 2018 after losing both D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown to the NFL. Moore, who appeared in every game as a freshman, is primed for a bigger role on an offense that has a lot of production to replace. After finishing third on the squad with 398 yards and two touchdowns, those numbers will only increase now that he will be relied upon heavily. Shadowing the speedster from Fort Lauderdale will be no easy task for Tigers cornerbacks T.J. Carter and Joey Bryant.
Matt Corrall: Corrall is making his first career start with Saturday’s upcoming game. A redshirt freshman, Corrall is the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in his class. Expectations are running high for Corrall, who is the youngest opening day starter for the Rebels since 2000. If the Tigers defense can make him uncomfortable and disrupt the pocket, they may come out on top this weekend.