Tiger fans will get a first look at the 2018-19 Memphis Tigers football roster Friday at the annual Friday Night Stripes scrimmage at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Kickoff begins at 7 p.m., and admission and parking for the game will be free of charge.
The Daily Helmsman sports staff of reporters Abigail Warren, Joshua A. Vinson, Patrick Graziosi, Caleb Hilliard and editor Jeremiah Graham discussed the game and the news of the football staff inviting former players Jake Elliott and DeAngelo Williams to be guest coaches for the game.
1. Which returning player are you most looking forward to seeing? Why?
Warren: Without a doubt, I am most looking forward to seeing Tony Pollard. After having an incredible season of kick returns last season, I hope to see some more of that from him. He’s among the top in the nation and has the potential to set the all-time record in his career.
Vinson: I’m looking forward to seeing Tony Pollard have a big season this year. The running back played in 12 games and totaled 237 yards on the ground. With a new quarterback at the helm, it will be the offensive weapons that will drive the Tigers to success next season, and that starts with Pollard.
Graziosi: It’s hard to glean too much from only two 12-minute quarters, but I look forward to watching the effort from the young defensive players on the roster, specifically defensive backs T.J. Carter and Josh Perry. Redshirt freshman Tamaurice Smith is another DB to look out for.
Hilliard: Tony Pollard had an electric sophomore season, and I’m excited to see the speedster in his third season. He is one of the most athletic players on the Memphis roster, and he passes the eye test.
Graham: You can accuse me of being biased with this pick, being a fellow Orange Mound native, but I will be keeping an eye out for Tony Pollard. He will get much more touches on offense this season, and it will be interesting to see what packages he’s used in.
2. Which story lines stand out the most for you coming into this game?
Warren: The quarterback battle is most interesting for me. It’s similar to what a lot of people felt two years ago after Paxton Lynch went pro. Riley Ferguson came in and was able to fill that hole. He fit in well with the offense. Hopefully the next quarterback will be able to do the same.
Vinson: The quarterback battle. The Tigers have a good problem. They have four quarterbacks who could all be starters: Brady White, David Moore, Brady Davis and Connor Adair. At this point, Moore and White seem like the top two options, but Davis and Adair are not far behind.
Graziosi: Without a doubt, the quarterback situation. Brady White has the pedigree, but he has not distanced himself from redshirt sophomore David Moore. Moore looked the best out of all the Tiger quarterbacks during their scrimmage in Nashville last week, so White won’t just get handed the job.
Hilliard: The quarterback battle is intriguing. Brady White and David Moore both have a chance to claim the role. Also, with Genard Avery leaving, it will be interesting to see who steps up on defense next season.
Graham: Definitely the quarterback battle. I thought it would be a foregone conclusion that Brady White would end up with the job, but Moore has made a strong push with an impressive camp.
3. Who will be the starting quarterback by week one? Why?
Warren: Brady White has already seen college ball after playing at Arizona State. He and Mike Norvell already had a relationship because Norvell recruited him. I think because he followed Norvell here, and based on his previous experience, he has a good chance of filling Ferguson’s shoes.
Vinson: I would guess Moore will be the starter. He knows this offense and was an understudy to Riley Ferguson.
Graziosi: Brady White. He will eventually win out once he becomes more acclimated with the offense and his surrounding talent.
Hilliard: White has the skills to be a successful college quarterback, but the starting job is still up for grabs. Moore knows the Tigers’ system and gained experience under Riley Ferguson. I predict White will edge out Moore over the course of the next few months and receive the starting role next season.
Graham: I think White will end up with the job. From a physical tools standpoint, he is best equipped to run the offense.
4. What do you think of Jake Elliott and DeAngelo Williams being guest coaches?
Warren: Memphis has loved Williams for years, so anytime he is in town, the community loves it. To watch him face off against a Super Bowl champ will be awesome.
Vinson: The mantra at Memphis is “Once a Tiger always a Tiger.” That is why I love the idea that Jake Elliott and DeAngelo Williams are returning as guest coaches. Personally, I’m excited to see Williams because I would like to know more about the professional wrestling career he started recently.
Graziosi: I think it’s great they are bringing back two local legends to coach. Hopefully we can rotate alumni yearly to help promote and honor former players.
Hilliard: The guest coaches will add some lightheartedness to the spring game. DeAngelo Williams and Jake Elliott are heralded in the community, and their appearance will add to the overall atmosphere. Plus, Elliott will get to show off his new jewelry.
Graham: This will be great for the fans. DeAngelo is a local legend here for helping put Memphis football on the map, and of course Jake is on top of the world after winning a Lombardi Trophy. They’ll receive a nice reception.
Head coach Mike Norvell walks the sideline before the game. Norvell signed a five-year contract extension with the Tigers Dec. 5.