Connect with us

Memphis Tigers

Five Burning Questions for Memphis Tigers Football Ahead of the 2023 Season

The dawn of the 2023 season looms large for Memphis Tigers football, marking a crucial juncture in the program’s trajectory. As the Tigers venture into their fourth year under Head Coach Ryan Silverfield, the weight of expectations grows heavier. When Silverfield stepped into the shoes left by Mike Norvell after the 2019 season, he inherited a team renowned as a Group of Five colossus, boasting several double-digit win seasons and memorable forays into the AAC title game. Yet, the glorious tapestry woven in the pre-Silverfield era seems somewhat unraveled.

In the subsequent three seasons under Silverfield’s helm, the Tigers haven’t quite roared with the same ferocity or returned to their dominant stature. The onus now, plain and simple, is for the program to showcase a discernible leap forward. Recognizing this, we’ve dissected the team’s recent trajectory and formulated five burning questions for the upcoming season. Addressing these queries on the gridiron might be the panacea the Tigers need to reignite their legacy.

1. Will Memphis Finally Learn How to Close Out Games?

There’s a recurring narrative: Memphis Tigers fans are all too familiar with a strong start followed by a dwindling finish. Throughout the 2022 season, we repeatedly observed the Tigers take commendable leads, only to falter and wane as the clock ticked down in the fourth quarter. Two games encapsulate this trend more than any: the bouts against former conference rival Houston and East Carolina. In both instances, the Tigers seemed poised for victory, orchestrating impressive early-game plays and establishing a dominance that should have seen them through. Yet, the eventual outcomes were stark reminders of the team’s Achilles heel.

While these two fixtures stand out, they were far from isolated incidents during the 2022 run. The struggles to seal victories in decisive moments under Silverfield’s leadership are glaring. For Memphis to truly evolve, rectifying this inability to close out games is paramount. The question is whether 2023 will see a more resilient and determined Tigers side that can hold their nerve when it matters most.

2. Are the Trenches Improved on Both Sides of the Football?

When dissecting the successes and shortcomings of a football team, critics often highlight the skill positions, sometimes overlooking the battle that ensues in the trenches. But for Memphis, the frontline showdown – offensively and defensively – is where the fate of their 2023 season might very well be decided.

Last season bore witness to some glaring issues upfront. On offense, it felt as though quarterback Seth Henigan spent more time evading pressure than comfortably surveying the field. His harried performances were a testament to the underwhelming protection he received from his offensive line. Consequently, this had a domino effect on the team’s rushing prowess. The fact that the Tigers haven’t seen a 100-yard rusher since 2021 underscores the scale of the problem.

Defensively, challenges were no less pronounced. The once-feared pass rush of the Tigers seemed more like a whisper than a roar in 2022. Despite the spirited efforts of Jaylen Allen and Cormontae Hamilton, Memphis managed a relatively modest tally of 21 sacks. An imposing quarterback had little to fret about when squaring up against the Tigers’ front.

However, all might not be bleak for 2023. The addition of transfer talents like Josh Ellison, Cullen Montgomery, and Adaris Jones offers a ray of hope. Their presence could rejuvenate a Memphis line on both sides of the ball. With heightened expectations and an urgent need for a turnaround, these new entrants must meld quickly and uplift a unit that has displayed immense potential but, thus far, underwhelming returns.

3. Can Memphis Revert Back to “Weapon U”?

Memphis Football, during its zenith, was synonymous with a roster of offensive juggernauts – players whose raw talent and on-field prowess earned the team the enviable moniker of “Weapon U.” Fans draped in blue and gray would reverently chant names like Calvin Austin III, Kenneth Gainwell, Darrell Henderson, Tony Pollard, and Antonio Gibson. These weren’t just players but architects of an era, emblazoning their mark on the college football tapestry. However, in the ever-evolving world of college football, legends graduate, and the torch awaits a new bearer. As 2023 beckons, the burning question is: Who will embody the “Weapon U” spirit?

Eyes are trained on a new wave of potential gridiron stars. Players like Blake Watson, Demeer Blankumesee, and Tauskie Dove are no longer just names on a roster; they’re the possible successors to a rich legacy. These athletes could rekindle the offensive magic that once had opposing defenses sweating profusely.

The forthcoming season promises to be a litmus test. As Memphis seeks to recapture its former glory and reassert its offensive dominance, fans and pundits will watch closely. Will one of these new talents rise to the occasion, or perhaps all of them in tandem, to ensure that the “Weapon U” legacy lives on? Only time and the crowd’s roar at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium will tell.

4. Can Memphis Consistently Win on the Road Under Ryan Silverfield?

There’s an adage in sports that championship-caliber teams must be able to win on the road. This has been a challenging mountain to climb for the Memphis Tigers under the stewardship of Head Coach Ryan Silverfield. Since Silverfield took the reins from Mike Norvell, who departed for the sunnier climes of Florida State, the road game narrative for the Tigers has been one of missed opportunities and heartbreaks. An alarming 2-11 record is a testament to the team’s road woes during Silverfield’s tenure.

2023 stands as a critical year for a program with sky-high aspirations. If Memphis aims to cement its position atop the pedestal of the American Athletic Conference, it must rewrite its away-game narrative. The departure of formidable rivals like Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston to the Big 12 offers relief. However, complacency would be a folly. New conference entrants UTSA and Florida Atlantic are no pushovers and promise to pose their unique challenges.

For the Memphis Tigers, road games are more than just a test of skill – they are a test of character, resilience, and the team’s collective will to overcome adversity. Silverfield has a point to prove and a narrative to change. The onus is on the coaching staff and the players to demonstrate that they can consistently rally in hostile territories and return triumphant. As the 2023 season unfolds, the Tigers’ away record will be under intense scrutiny, potentially defining the Silverfield era’s legacy.

5. Will Seth Henigan Assert Himself as the AAC’s Top QB?

In the dynamic landscape of the American Athletic Conference, quarterback supremacy is a hotly contested title. Significant publications and pundits often earmark UTSA’s Frank Harris or Tulane’s Michael Pratt as the top gunslingers in the conference, each having carved their niche, with prestigious conference titles embellishing their football résumés. Yet, lurking in their shadows is Memphis’ Seth Henigan, a talent who, while typically ranked third, is poised to challenge this hierarchy.

Henigan’s story is one of rapid ascent. Thrown into the fire as a true freshman in 2021, he didn’t just survive; he thrived. His natural ability to dissect defenses and deliver pinpoint throws showcased that he’s more than capable of competing at an elite level. But talent alone doesn’t make a champion; applying that talent, the growth, and the maturity over successive seasons sets great players apart.

2023 is pivotal for Henigan. He stands at a crossroads with two years of collegiate experience now under his belt. To elevate the Tigers to the summit of the AAC, Henigan doesn’t just need to be good; he needs to be transcendent. His trajectory from a promising freshman to a seasoned third-year starter will be under the microscope. Can he step out of the shadows of Harris and Pratt and assert himself as the premier quarterback of the AAC?

Memphis’ aspirations for the season are intrinsically tied to Henigan’s performance. If the Tigers are to roar loudest in the AAC, much of the onus rests on Henigan’s shoulders. The stage is set, and the spotlight awaits. Will 2023 be the year Henigan claims his place at the top? Only the gridiron holds the answer.

Show Your Support

Support the great work of the Strike 7 Sports Memphis Tigers Section by purchasing licensed NCAA fan gear. Items ranged from Memphis hats, jerseys, t-shirts, socks, and so much more. We would greatly appreciate it if you would purchase these items from the text link below. The revenue generated from today’s offer goes into the funding of the Strike 7 Sports platform. Click on the link below if you are interested.

Memphis Tigers Fan Gear Offers from

Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Topics Covered

More in Memphis Tigers

Stirke 7 sports newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest scoop on all Memphis Tigers and Grizzlies related topics