The Memphis Tigers finished the 2012 season on a three-game winning streak, but head coach Justin Fuente isn’t going to let any of his players sit on their heels because of it. He is preparing the Tigers to make the jump into the AAC in 2013 and opened up the competition for playing time at just about every level. Not even Jacob Karam, last season’s starting quarterback, is safe and will have to play his way to a starting job next season.
He certainly has a leg up due to his experience. Karam started all 12 games last season and completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 1,895 yards with 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions. The senior showed that he makes good decisions with the football and can be very accurate, but he didn’t attack defenses down the field all that well, averaging just 6.9 yards per attempt.
Karam will get pushed by redshirt freshman Paxton Lynch, a 6-foot-6 pocket passer out of Florida. Fuente is going to see what Lynch can handle during fall camp after giving him a larger portion of the offense to run with during spring practices. Junior Eric Matthews, who served as the No. 2 quarterback last season, has also been working to earn that top spot this offseason, hitting the weight room and getting stronger for next season.
Fuente hopes that the intensity of open competition will breed better football across the board. To his credit, Karam has embraced the challenge and is approaching every practice like an audition for the starting job, which means he’s bringing his best effort each and every day. Will that effort turn into wins when the Tigers make their inaugural run through the AAC next fall?