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VOL. 131 | NO. 168 | Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Former Memphis Tiger Paxton Lynch Is Already the Favorite QB in Denver

By Don Wade

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Hear that drumbeat out of Denver? It’s fans, some media, and certainly anyone with a blog, openly campaigning for Paxton Lynch to be the Broncos’ starting quarterback – at least for the next preseason game.

Former University of Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch has impressed during his first two preseason games with the Denver Broncos. While Lynch remains a longshot to be the starting QB come opening day, his play may have the team contemplating a transition to Lynch sooner rather than later.

(Scott Boehm via AP)

Yes, we’re working with a small sample size in the pros: two preseason games. But Lynch has impressed. The former University of Memphis star is one of three quarterbacks that coach Gary Kubiak and general manager John Elway say are in competition for the job.

The other two are Mark Sanchez, who never fulfilled expectations with the New York Jets and gave us the notorious butt fumble, and Trevor Siemian, a seventh-round pick out of Northwestern last year who projects as a try-to-hang-on-in-the-NFL guy, not a future franchise quarterback.

In the Broncos’ most recent game, Siemian undid some early good work by throwing a pick-six to the San Francisco 49ers and Sanchez killed two drives with, that’s right, fumbles. Lynch had a better night amid the Broncos’ 31-24 loss, with a writer at milehighreport.com saying Lynch showed “Houdini-like ability in the pocket and provided the stagnant Broncos offense with the spark desperately needed.”

Houdini-like ability in the pocket? Memphis fans remember seeing that, not to a mention a big strong right arm.

Lynch completed 15 of 26 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns and all of this was accomplished with a third-string offensive line and bottom-shelf receivers.

Kubiak continues to work in phrases that indicate Lynch still has the steeper learning curve of the three, so it’s not probable he starts the first the game of the season no matter what happens the remainder of preseason. But this is already setting up for an earlier transition to Lynch during the season.

K.J. Lawson on the Mend

Dedric Lawson is the one true known quantity returning to the Tigers basketball team after being the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year. But Tubby Smith’s first season as head coach at Memphis sure figures to go a lot better if brother K.J. Lawson is sufficiently healed from the Achilles injury that reduced his season to a mere 10 games.

K.J. showed flashes, averaging 8.8 points and 3.5 rebounds if also making a habit of taking wild shots in isolation. Smith pegged Lawson’s recovery at about 85 to 90 percent, adding, “I think now it’s more psychological. When you have an injury, it takes a while psychologically to get to that level you were before.”

The Tigers currently only have 10 scholarship players and have three scholarships open. Smith was scheduled to speak to the Memphis Rebounders Monday, Aug. 22, at the Crescent Club. For more information on the club, go to memphisrebounders.com.

Alabama No. 1, Clemson No. 2 in first AP Poll

For the third time since Nick Saban has been coach at Alabama, the Crimson Tide were No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason Top 25.

Alabama and Clemson, the teams that met for the national championship at the end of last season, start No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, followed by Oklahoma at No. 3, Florida State at No. 4 and LSU at No. 5.

Tennessee cracked the Top 10 at No. 9 and Ole Miss was No. 11.

The Rebels open the season vs. Florida State on Monday, Sept. 5, in Orlando. Tennessee is at home against Appalachian State on Thursday night, Sept. 1, to start the season.

The SEC led all conferences with six teams in Top 25, with Georgia 18th and Florida 25th, and had four of the top 11 teams.

Wyatt Short Off to Fast Start in Pros

Lefty reliever Wyatt Short (Southaven, Ole Miss) has not given up an earned run in 11 appearances for the Chicago Cubs’ Short Season A club in Eugene, Oregon. A 13th-round draft pick last June, Short has converted on all five save opportunities and has 10 strikeouts (with five walks) in 11 innings.

Short had allowed just three hits and opponents are batting .086. He owns a 0.00 earned run average.

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