Memphis posted its eighth consecutive season of at least six victories last fall. Coach Ryan Silverfield's squad hopes to aim a little higher in 2022, especially with quarterback Seth Henigan returning to pilot an offense that averaged 30.1 points a game last fall. After a standout freshman season, Henigan will be asked to shoulder even more of the offense, especially with standout receiver Calvin Austin III off to the NFL. New coordinator Matt Barnes arrives from Ohio State looking to improve a defense that allowed 29.2 points a game last season. Even though just four starters return, this unit has plenty of talent and experience to see improvement in '22.
Previewing Memphis' Offense for 2022
Quarterback Seth Henigan had an impressive freshman season after moving into the starting role following a preseason injury to Arizona transfer Grant Gunnell. Henigan became the first true freshman starter for the program and finished the season as the leader among the nation's freshmen QBs in completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns. In his 11 starts, he threw for 3,322 yards and 25 TDs and displayed poise beyond his age. He added 15 pounds in the offseason. Gunnell entered the transfer portal after the spring game.
The Tigers are relying on an experienced backfield — and the addition of Northern Illinois transfer Jevyon Ducker — to invigorate a once-productive run game. Leading rushers Brandon Thomas (669 yards, eight TDs) and Rodrigues Clark (387 yards, four TDs) return, but Ducker could be a key. He was the MAC Freshman of the Year in 2021 after rushing for 1,184 yards.
After several seasons featuring marquee No. 1 receivers Anthony Miller and Calvin Austin III, the Tigers will try a committee approach led by Javon Ivory, Gabriel Rogers and Eddie Lewis. Joseph Scates is a solid addition from the transfer portal after playing 33 games in three seasons at Iowa State.
Previewing Memphis' Defense for 2022
All-AAC safety Quindell Johnson, whose interception and nine tackles in the regular-season finale against Tulane contributed to Memphis earning its bowl invitation, returns to bolster the group. The secondary also will benefit from Rodney Owens and Sylvonta Oliver taking advantage of their sixth seasons.
At linebacker, the additions of Syracuse transfer Geoffrey Cantin-Arku and Charlotte transfer Tyler Murray will help offset losses at the position. Cantin-Arku had 10 tackles for a loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles in his past two seasons. Murray led Charlotte in tackles in 2020 and 2021 and was a two-time honorable mention All-C-USA selection.
Wardalis Ducksworth and Cam'Ron Jackson bring experience up front. Ducksworth had two fumble recoveries last season, returning one of them for a touchdown.
Previewing Memphis' Specialists for 2022
Punter Joe Doyle (46-yard average) is back. Projected kicker David Kemp was hampered by injury for most of last season, but he returned and finished strong. Gabriel Rogers is back to return kicks after averaging a healthy 25.0 yards on 22 returns.
Memphis earned an invitation to the Hawaii Bowl to extend its postseason streak to eight consecutive seasons, tops among non-Power 5 programs and 12th-best nationally. The bowl game was canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak on Hawaii's team.
Head coach Ryan Silverfield starts his third season but will deal with staff changes after two new coordinators — Tim Cramsey (offense) and Matt Barnes (defense) — came aboard in the offseason. Most importantly, the Tigers must correct their turnover issues. They committed 14 in their six losses.