Date: Saturday, September 1, 2018
Kickoff Time: 6:00 PM CT
Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (Memphis, TN)
Spread: No line
A bitter taste remains in the mouths of the Memphis Tigers football team. Ending the 2017 season with a 21-20 loss to Iowa State isn’t the way it was supposed to end. It’s time to move past that, and start the 2018 season out on the right foot. Memphis will host Mercer to begin the season, and will see some new faces at various positions.
First of all, they play who?
Mercer. The Bears aren’t going to be a pushover. They played Auburn tough early in the season before losing 24-10. Mercer finished 5-6 last season at the FCS level. While they may be more well known for their basketball, the Bears are looking to improve on the football field.
Mercer Bears to Know
*Stats are all from 2017
QB Riley Kaelan (2,030 yards passing, 13 TD’s)
RB Tee Mitchell (682 yards rushing, 7 TD’s)
WR Marquise Irvin (536 yards receiving, 4 TD’s)
S Eric Jackson (89 tackles, 2 pass breakups)
DE Isaiah Buehler (38 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks)
Brady White was finally announced as the starting quarterback, officially beginning his era as quarterback of the Tigers. Mike Norvell knows how to get the most out of his quarterbacks, but don’t expect everything to go perfectly. White will need to find chemistry with his receivers, and should rely on the running game early on. Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor will be more than happy to carry the team. Up front, the offensive line should dominate this game. Memphis has one of the most experienced lines in the country, so miscues should be fairly minimal.
On defense, Memphis returns a ton of experience, but will that mean production? Defensive coordinator Chris Ball’s group was young and inexperienced last year, which led them to be one of the worst defense in the country. Injuries had a lot to do with the youthful movement on this side of the ball. If Memphis can prove that those freshmen and sophomores who played a lot last year learned from those experiences, this could be one of the better defenses in the conference. We will get a first look at this group on Saturday.
A new quarterback and new receivers are the concerns offensively, and the defensive improvement as a whole is as well. Memphis has arguably the most potential of any team in the AAC, which is why so many fans believe that the Tigers could make a run. We won’t learn everything from this game, but we will hopefully ease some angst remaining from the offseason. This should be a team that is hungry for more after coming so close to a conference championship and a bowl win. The Bears don’t really stand a chance.
Memphis 63 Mercer 17