Unpacking Memphis football's first day of practice and what coach Ryan Silverfield said

Memphis Commercial Appeal
Memphis football began fall practices on Wednesday, exactly a month out from its opener against Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 2 at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.
The Tigers have plenty of new faces on both sides of the ball but will have quarterback Seth Henigan back for his third year as a starter. Coach Ryan Silverfield said after practice the familiarity with Henigan is helpful, but he thinks Henigan can take another step forward and improve this season.
"That familiarity, that comfort is huge," Silverfield said. "But we're going to challenge him, we're going to train him and push him to continue to get better because he is not where he needs to be. And he'll be the first to say that. But it gives you confidence. I don't sleep much at night, but when I do, I can at least lay my head down knowing we've got a damn good quarterback."
Henigan and the Tigers are losing most of their receiving production from last season, and that means there are plenty of places up for grabs. Transfers Tauskie Dove and DeMeer Blankumsee could see significant roles, as could returning Roc Taylor and a plethora of other players.
"First and foremost, they have to be fundamentally sound and understand the playbook," Silverfield said. "Because we will not play guys that go out there and can't get through the first five installs. Because shame on them and shame on us as a coaching staff if they're not ready. So, if guys are going out there and making mental errors, we can't play them. We've got too many talented guys."
Henigan said after practice that he thinks this team might be the most talented squad he's been on since he's been in Memphis. He specifically mentioned former Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett as someone who benefitted from having talented players around him and said his job is to get his playmakers the ball "as fast as possible."
"Having talent around you obviously helps you as a quarterback," Henigan said. "You look at Stetson Bennett. He had a lot of talented cats around him and that gave their team a lot of success. Just as a quarterback, our main job is to get the ball to the playmakers in space as fast as possible. We might be a playmaker, too, but those guys are pretty fast. So I'm trying to get them the ball and go about my business."
Henigan changed his jersey number to No. 2, the third consecutive season he's changed his number. He said he's actually changed it every year since he was in middle school. He picked No. 2 because Johnny Manziel and Cam Newton (who both wore the number in college) were his favorite quarterbacks growing up, he said.
It's still early, and Memphis has a month to sort out position battles and work on conditioning before the season opener. The Tigers were picked to finish fourth in the preseason American Athletic Conference poll, but Silverfield was clear the expectation this season is to win the conference championship.
"We've got to be better than we were last year," Silverfield said. "Our ultimate expectation of ourselves is to win a championship. And I won't deviate from that. If we fall short of this in December and you say, 'Ryan, was it a failure?' It wasn't our expectation. Our expectation is to win the championship. Now, if we go out there and win 10 games and lose the championship, was it a good year? Sure, but it wasn't what we're capable of. We expect to go out there and win every single football game, and it starts with the first one."

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