Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson might not yet have the resume of his predecessor, Paxton Lynch.
But after the Tigers’ upset of Ole Miss in 2015, the Memphis program and its quarterback have the attention of Rebels coach Hugh Freeze.
Freeze identified Ferguson as a threat in his weekly press conference Monday ahead of the Rebels’ Saturday night game against the high-scoring Memphis team at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
“He has played really well,” Freeze told reporters. “I don’t know that it would be fair for me to try to assess it to Lynch until I see him live, but on film he is making every throw, he uses his feet, and seemed like a leader and competitive dude.”
So far this season, Ferguson, a junior college transfer from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, has completed 61 of 91 passes (67 percent) for 843 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.
Ferguson naturally invites comparisons to Lynch – whom the Denver Broncos selected with the 26th overall pick in April’s NFL Draft – although Ferguson has shown little of Lynch’s mobility in 2016.
Freeze said first-year Memphis coach Mike Norvell has made relatively few changes from the system of former Tigers coach Justin Fuente, who has since taken the same job at Virginia Tech.
“He is very similar to what you saw last year from them, maybe a few more spread sets,” Freeze said.
Through three games, the Tigers (3-0) have beaten Southeast Missouri State, 35-17, Kansas, 43-7, and Bowling Green, 77-3.
Freeze, whose Rebels lost last year to Memphis in a 37-24 upset that went a long way toward derailing their national championship hopes, won’t be overlooking the Tigers this weekend.
“They put up some crazy numbers offensively and defensively and they are playing very, very good football,” Freeze said. “It is going to be a great test for us.”
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