CFN Take: Memphis, Lynch Get By USF
Memphis Tigers 2014 ...
Head Coach: Justin Fuente
Nov. 22 at Memphis 31, South Florida 20
2014 Schedule |
Aug. 30 Austin Peay W 63-0
Sep. 6 at UCLA L 42-35
Sep. 13 OPEN DATE
Sep. 20 Middle Tenn W 36-17
Sep. 27 at Ole Miss L 24-3
Oct. 4 at Cincinnati W 41-14
Oct. 11 Houston L 28-24
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 25 at SMU W 48-10
Oct. 31 Tulsa W 40-20
Nov. 7 at Temple W 16-13
Nov. 15 at Tulane W 38-7
Nov. 22 USF W 31-20
Nov. 29 Connecticut
And You Care Because … Paxton Lynch ran for two short scores in the first quarter, threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Mose Frazier in the second, and an 11-yard pass to Brandon Hayes in the third as Memphis overcame an early 3-0 deficit and never trailed from the late first quarter on. Marlon Mack ran for a 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and Marvin Kloss hit two field goals, but the Bulls couldn’t come up with a key stop.
What Else? Time of possession: South Florida 36:47 – Memphis 23:13
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 18-of-23 passes for 232 yards and two scores, and ran eight times for 44 yards and two touchdowns
- South Florida RB Marlon Mack ran 16 times for 102 yards and a score, and caught eight passes for 57 yards
- Memphis RB Brandon Hayes ran 21 times for 189 yards
Game Rating: C+
Nov. 15 Memphis 38, at Tulane 7
And You Care Because … Memphis forced five turnovers with Bobby McCain returning an interception for a touchdown in the first two minutes and Dontrell Nelson coming up with a 58-yard pick six in the third on the way to a 31-0 lead. Paxton Lynch added a 38-yard touchdown pass to Mose Frazier and ran for a four-yard score as the offense helped the Tiger cause. Tulane finally got on the board with just under two minutes to play on a 19-yard Dontrell Hilliard run.
What Else? Turnovers: Tulane 5 – Memphis 2
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 14-of-25 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown, and ran eight times for 26 yards and a score
- Tulane QB Tanner Lee completed 26-of-48 passes for 196 yards and three interceptions
- Third down conversions: Tulane 6-of-18 – Memphis 2-of-14
Game Rating: D
Nov. 8 Memphis 16, at Temple 13
And You Care Because … Jake Elliott hit a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give Memphis the tough win. Elliott also connected from 42 and 27 yards out, and Brandon Hayes caught a 17-yard touchdown pass to overcome an early 10-0 deficit. Temple managed two Austin Jones field goals from 43 and 46 yards out, and Kenneth Harper ran for a 75-yard touchdown, but the offense only managed the second Jones field goal after the first quarter.
What Else? Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 21-of-28 passes for 230 yards and a score
- Temple RB Kenneth Harper ran 17 times for 116 yards and a score
- Memphis WR Mose Frazier caught eight passes for 110 yards
- Temple QB P.J. Walker completed 16-of-37 passes for 140 yards and an interception
Game Rating: B
Oct. 31 at Memphis 40, Tulsa 20
And You Care Because … Memphis overcame a 14-3 deficit on an early lost fumble for a touchdown and a 28-yard Derek Patterson scoring catch by ripping off 30 straight points on three of Josh Elliott’s four field goals, a three-yard Paxton Lynch scoring run, and Brandon Hayes scoring runs from 51 and 30 yards out. Tulsa tried to come back late with Dane Evans’ second touchdown pass of the game, but Hayes kept on rolling with a 14-yard score in the final minutes.
What Else? Penalties: Tulsa 12 for 111 yards – Memphis 4 for 40 yards
- Memphis RB Brandon Hayes ran 29 times for 199 yards and three scores
- Tulsa QB Dane Evans completed 28-of-54 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns
- Time of possession: Tulsa 33:56 – Memphis 24:22
Game Rating: C-
Oct. 25 Memphis 48, at SMU 10
And You Care Because … Memphis scored the first 21 points with one-yard touchdown runs from Jarvis Cooper and Alan Cross and a 54-yard touchdown catch from Phil Mayhue, and after SMU went on a long march ending with a one-yard Prescott Line run, the blowout was on. The Tigers scored 20 straight points with Brandon Hayes tearing off a 36-yard run and Cooper scoring from seven yards out on the way to a 41-7 lead, cruising over the last 20 minutes for the easy win.
What Else? Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 17-of-23 passes for 307 yards and a score
- Memphis RB Brandon Hayes ran 13 times for 101 yards and a touchdown, and Jarvis Cooper ran 16 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns
- Total yards: Memphis 582 – SMU 251
- SMU QB Garrett Krstich completed 10-of-22 passes for 59 yards and two picks, Matt Davis completed 3-of-9 passes for 55 yards, and Kolney Cassel missed his only two attempts
Game Rating: D
Oct. 11 Houston 28, at Memphis 24
And You Care Because … Houston bounced back from a 21-14 halftime deficit scoring on a three-yard Ryan Jackson run and a 25-yard Markeith Ambles touchdown grab in the second half. Memphis pulled within four on a 31-yard Jake Elliott field goal, but the O couldn’t get any closer turning it over twice in the final minutes. Greg Ward Jr., making his first start at quarterback for the Cougars, ran for a 64-yard score to help battle a big first half from Paxton Lynch, who threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score for the Tigers. However, three picks turned out to be a killer.
What Else? Turnovers: Memphis 5 – Houston 3
- Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. completed 14-of-25 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown with an interception, and led the team with 95 rushing yards and a score on 17 carries
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 26-of-37 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns with a rushing touchdown and three interceptions
- Total yards: Memphis 368 – Houston 354
Game Rating: B
Oct. 4 Memphis 41, at Cincinnati 14
And You Care Because … Cincinnati scored on a 80-yard Mekale McKay touchdown catch on the first play of the game, and then it was all Memphis with Paxton Lynch throwing touchdown passes to Tevin Jones and Adrian Henderson in the first half, and running for two ten-yard scores. The Bearcats were only able to come up with a five-yard Rod Moore touchdown run the rest of the way, with QB Gunner Kiel having a rough day after the first pass and getting injured with banged up ribs.
What Else? Total yards: Memphis 610 – Cincinnati 352
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 18-of-25 passes for 311 yards and two scores, and ran 12 times for 45 yards and two touchdowns
- Cincinnati QB Gunner Kiel completed 11-of-27 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown with an interception
- Time of possession: Memphis 40:55 – Cincinnati 19:05
Game Rating: D+
Sept. 27 at Ole Miss 24, Memphis 3
And You Care Because … In a strange performance with bad penalties and worse mistakes, Ole Miss still got by Memphis thanks to a defense that allowed just 104 yards of Tiger offense. Laquon Treadwell caught a 63-yard touchdown pass for the Rebels in the first, but they didn’t get back on the board until the fourth as Andrew Fletcher’s 19-yard field goal sparked a 17-0 run. Jaylen Walton ran for a 23-yard score and Treadwell finished it off with a 17-yard scoring catch, but it was the D that saved the day to set up a showdown with Alabama.
What Else? Penalties: Ole Miss 10 for 117 yards – Memphis 9 for 105 yards
- Turnovers: Ole Miss 4 – Memphis 2
- Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell caught five passes for 123 yards and two scores
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 13-of-31 passes for 81 yards with a pick
Game Rating: D+
Sept. 20 at Memphis 36, Middle Tennessee 17
And You Care Because … Memphis LB Tank Jake came up with a sack for a safety, picked off a pass and forced a key fumble, and the offense rolled without a problem with Paxton Lynch finding Alan Cross for touchdown passes from seven and 50 yards out, and with a 32-yard Doroland Dorceus run. The Tiger D kept the game a relative blowout with a 59-yard Bobby McCain fumble return for a score in the fourth. Middle Tennessee got two short touchdown runs from Shane Tucker.
What Else? Total yards: Memphis 480 – Middle Tennessee 325
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 21-of-35 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns with a pick
- Rushing yards: Memphis 261 – Middle Tennessee 88
- Middle Tennessee QB Austin Grammer completes 24-of-35 passes for 237 yards and a pick
Game Rating: C-
Sept. 6 at UCLA 42, Memphis 35
And You Care Because … UCLA got into a much bigger firefight than expected, seeing its 35-21 lead get erased by a 40-yard Doroland Dorceus touchdown run and a 17-yard pick six from Fritz Etienne to tie it up, but Brett Hundley responded with a strong nine-play, 75-yard drive closed out by a 33-yard Thomas Duarte touchdown catch. Hundley threw three touchdown passes and Paul Perkins ran for two scores, but Memphis wouldn’t go away with Paxton Lynch throwing a touchdown pass and adding a rushing touchdown to stay alive. However, UCLA never trailed after getting down 7-6 late in the first quarter.
What Else? UCLA QB Brett Hundley completed 33-of-44 passes for 396 yards and three touchdowns with a pick six, and he ran 11 times for 26 yards.
- Memphis QB Paxton Lynch completed 27-of-41 passes for 305 yards and a score, and he ran ten times for 27 yards and a touchdown.
- Memphis LB Tank Jakes was a force making 11.5 tackles with two sacks, four tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
- Memphis got flagged ten times for 110 yards, UCLA was tagged nine times for 85 yards.
Game Rating: B+
Aug. 30 at Memphis 63, Austin Peay 0
And You Care Because … Memphis ran for a school-record seven touchdowns with 545 yards of total offense and 303 on the ground in the rout. Paxton Lynch completed 20-of-27 passes for 242 yards and two scores with a pick, and he ran for 34 yards and two scores. Jarvis Cooper led the Tigers with 101 yards on eight carries with a touchdown. Austin Peay managed just 146 yards of total offense.
Game Rating: D-
You’ve got to crawl before you walk. Memphis gets it. But Memphis is tired of crawling.
The Tigers have been rebuilding for too long. Since 2006, the program has had just one winning season, while losing 10 games four different times. It’s ready to start realizing some of the spoils that come with perseverance, dedication and hard work. It’s eager to—finally— compete at a higher level.
Third-year head coach Justin Fuente has been the architect of Memphis’ latest bid to revitalize the team, following in the footsteps of Tommy West and Larry Porter. For Fuente, progress has been dramatic, even if it’s not evident to the naked eye. The Tigers are bigger, faster and deeper than when the coach arrived from TCU. Tangible gains, the kinds that appear in the standings, though, remain elusive.
Memphis has won only seven games under Fuente. Not acceptable, but certainly not unexpected considering the mess that the coach inherited in 2012. The upcoming season, however, will be a pivotal one for the school and the staff. The systems are firmly in place, and the roster finally features depth, experience and a competitive environment. The next priority? Find some long-overdue answers on the offensive side of the ball.
The Tiger D is fine. Nah, it’s actually better than fine. Coordinator Barry Odom has excelled at coaching up marginal players and making sure that they operate with passion and energy for 60 minutes. It’s on the other side of the line, Darrell Dickey’s offense, that Memphis has faced its biggest challenges. The Tigers scored just 89 first-half points in 2013, and their passing game was among the least efficient in America. Dickey and second-year QB Paxton Lynch are easily Memphis’ two most important individuals as the 2014 campaign nears.
Memphis is moving in the right direction, even if absolutely no one is happy will the actual speed of the progress. Now it’s time for those gains in the weight room and on the practice field to generate positive results in the fall. The Tigers are close. They’ll inch even closer to their goals if the quarterbacks grow up in a hurry and the team as a whole starts learning how to pull out tight games.
What to watch for on offense: Brayden Scott—and other unproven hurlers—to become very popular around campus. Everyone loves the backup quarterback, especially when the starter throws more interceptions than touchdowns in a season. It’s Paxton Lynch’s job to lose, but that’s precisely what he’ll do if his decision-making doesn’t improve. Scott is a former three-star recruit from the 2013 class, with the live arm and the moxie to mount a challenge during the offseason.
What to watch for on defense: The Tigers will lead the American in many statistical categories. Memphis is deep, well-coached and senior-led on the defensive side of the ball. The team has all-star contenders at each level, which will make it tough on opponents to move the chains with any consistency. Beyond just the pure talent, the Tigers play well together as a collaborative unit, a key reason why they’ve been so surprisingly stingy the past two seasons.
The team will be far better if… it converts more third-down attempts, say 40%, this fall. Memphis hit on a paltry 31% of its third downs in 2013 to rank 120th in the FBS. It was a glaring shortcoming for an attack that sputtered incessantly and put too much pressure on an overworked defense. The Tigers must become more efficient across the board on offense or else there’ll be a hard cap on their 2014 ceiling.
The Schedule: The Tigers get a breather to start things off with Austin Peay, and they’re going to need it with what’s coming next. Three of the next four games are on the road, and they’re all brutal going to UCLA, Ole Miss and Cincinnati, and in the middle of it all a tough home game against a decent Middle Tennessee team. After kicking off the American Athletic season against Cincinnati and dealing with Houston at home, three of the next four conference games are on the road. The payoff comes late, closing out against South Florida and UConn at home.
Best offensive player: Senior RB Brandon Hayes. Hayes has been Memphis’ best offensive performer, two seasons running, which explains the excitement that he’s back for a sixth year. He didn’t just lead the Tigers in rushing in 2013. He made life easier for rookie QB Paxton Lynch, who benefitted from the presence of a stable veteran in the backfield. Hayes is a good back. But he can be even more effective with even a little bit of balance to keep defenses from stacking the box.
Best defensive player: Senior DE Martin Ifedi. Ifedi is the Tigers’ best pass rusher, sure. More important, though, is that he’s the face of an overachieving Memphis D. The senior plays with a no-quit attitude, eating up blocks so that teammates can make plays. He sets the tone, and those around him often follow. When Ifedi’s ears are pinned back, everyone’s job on the Tiger defense gets a little bit easier.
Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Paxton Lynch. And it’s a landslide. There’s no getting around the fact that Memphis must improve on offense. The poster child for that pursuit is Lynch, who generally flat-lined as a true freshman starter behind center. If he can’t provide a little balance to the running of Brandon Hayes, the Tigers will once again be overly reliant on the defense. Someone on this roster, Lynch or otherwise, needs to ignite a feeble attack.
The season will be a success if ... the Tigers break through with the six wins required to bowl. This is now an experienced program littered with returning starters on both sides of the line. And the staff is entering its third season. Memphis is finally poised to turn a few of last year’s close calls into close wins. While the schedule is thorny, including non-conference games with UCLA and Ole Miss, the back end of the slate is soft. The Tigers could amass a wicked tailwind with a season-ending stretch against Tulsa, Temple, Tulane, South Florida and UConn.
Key game: Sept. 20 vs. Middle Tennessee. A visit from the Blue Raiders is an underrated tilt tucked discreetly between those trips to Pasadena and Oxford. Memphis cannot afford any long losing streaks if it hopes to sneak into the postseason for the first time in six years. The team will need to win two of the first six games of a rugged first-half schedule. Austin Peay will be one in the opener. Middle Tennessee, which has won the last two games in the series, has to be the other one to avoid prevent a possible 1-5 start.
2013 Fun Stats:
- Rushing yards per game: Memphis 138.3 – Opponents 116.3
- Passing yards per game: Memphis 173.2 – Opponents 254.3
- Third-down%: Memphis 31% - Opponents 44%
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