Tigers set to open season against Southeast Missouri - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tigers set to open season against Southeast Missouri

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

It’s a new season and a new look for the Memphis Tigers in 2016.

After back-to-back seasons with nine regular season wins and bowl appearances under decorated head coach Justin Fuente, the Tigers will open the season with Mike Norvell at the helm.

Norvell takes over with no head coaching experience, but experience in coaching in big games, having served as offensive coordinator at Power 5 schools Pittsburgh and Arizona State.

Memphis also faces the perhaps even tougher task of replacing a first-round draft pick, quarterback Paxton Lynch. Lynch leaves the Bluff City as one of the most significant Tigers of all time, passing for more than 3,.000 yards in the past two seasons and leading his team to 19 wins in two seasons.

Still, pieces remain from the offense that put up the 7th most points in college football in 2015, and the addition of an offensive-minded coach should shore up the concern of replacing Lynch.

The Tigers true downfall in 2015 was a defense that gave up 27 points per game and gave up more than 40 points four times.

Week 1 foe Southeast Missouri doesn’t bring the toughest challenge, however, and will ideally provide a warm-up game for Memphis.

The Redhawks went just 4-7 in 2015 playing in the Ohio Valley Conference, and haven’t finished a season with a winning record since 2010.

Head Coach Tom Matukewicz will bring his squad into the Liberty Bowl to face a Tigers team with something to prove.

After months of proving their worth to the Big 12, an ESPN report on Friday stated that Memphis is no longer in the running to join the conference in their potential expansion.

Will the desire to prove the Big 12 wrong fuel the Tigers in their performance against SEMO on Saturday? Or will the exclusion deflate the team and put them at risk for an upset?

Kickoff at the Liberty Bowl is set for 6 p.m.

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