Thursday, August 6, 2015

Houston Cougars Season Preview

STORYLINES
Memphis takes a seven-game winning streak into the 2015 season. Only Ohio State, Boise State and TCU have longer active winning streaks entering the season. Memphis coach Justin Fuente was one of eight finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award as the national coach of the year after he led the Tigers to a share of the American Athletic Conference title in 2014. Memphis’ conference title was the Tigers’ first since the 1971 season. 
OFFENSE 
The Tigers scored 471 points in 2014, shattering the old school record of 430 points, set in 2004. QB Paxton Lynch threw 22 touchdown passes and added 13 rushing TDs as a sophomore in 2014. Lynch earned second-team all-conference honors. The Tigers should expect a boost from the return of RB Doroland Dorceus, who averaged 5.2 yards per cary and had four rushing touchdowns in four games before suffering a season-ending injury. The Tigers return four starters on the offensive line, as well as first-team all-conference TE Alan Cross. 
DEFENSE 
Memphis was ranked 11th nationally in scoring defense (19.5 ppg) in 2014, but the Tigers return only three starters from that unit. LB Jackson Dillon is the top returning tackler. Jackson had 43 stops with nine tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in 2014. S Reggis Ball is the lone returning starter in the secondary, though the Tigers do have a number of players who saw regular action there last season. DE Ernest Suttles emerged as a starter on the defensive line as a freshman and will be the most seasoned of the Tigers’ down linemen in 2015. 
SPECIAL TEAMS
K Jake Elliott is one of the nation’s top kickers and was an all-conference first team selection last season. Elliott, who led The American in scoring (9.2 ppg), hit 21 of 32 field goal attempts and was 15-for-16 from inside 40 yards. Elliott hit a season-long 54-yard field goal in overtime in the Miami Beach Bowl win against Brigham Young. P Spencer Smith stepped in as the regular punter last season and averaged 40.3 yards per punt. Smith helped the Tigers finish third in The American in net punting.

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