The first half of this season has been awesome if you are a Memphis fan. The Tigers are tied with their best start in over 50 years and, dating back to last season, have set a school record win streak. At the midway point of the season the Tigers have already provided fans with plenty of memorable moments. Below I listed my top five:
5. Onside Kick To Start Second Half At USF
Memphis finds itself struggling to score against USF. The Tigers, averaging nearly 54 points a game, trail USF 10-7 after being down 10-0. Coach Fuente and staff, who seem to be a masters of halftime adjustments, notice a flaw in USF's kick coverage. Jump to the 2:22 mark.
In one of those plays that make you genius if they work and an idiot if they fail, Fuente calls the onside kick. Jake Elliot lines up and kicks a slow dribbler down the middle. Elliot runs with the ball and pounces on it as soon as it has traveled 10 yards. The Tigers failed to score on the drive, but it was one of those plays that energized the team and was incredibly memorable for fans.
4. Pick 6 Against Cincinnati
Cincinnati at Memphis was a highly anticipated game. The Bearcats were selected as the preseason AAC favorites and, after their early season loss to Temple, were hungry for a signature win. Early misfortune (a Sam Craft fumble on the second play of the game) would place Memphis in a hole, and after a punt, the Bearcats seemed poised to take a early 14 point lead.
Marching down the field and at the Memphis 44, Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel drops to pass, never looks off his first read, and gets picked off for a 59 yard touchdown.
3. Game Clinching Pick Against Cincinnati
It feels weird looking back at the Cincinnati/Memphis game and coming to mind with two defensive plays. The final score was 53-46 and somehow play #4 and play #3 stand out.
After a late Sam Craft redemption touchdown, the Tigers had to hold off the Bearcats another 53 seconds. Cincinnati backup quarterback Hayden Moore, while being sacked by Tiger LB Genard Avery, would attempt to get rid of the ball only to wildly throw the game deciding interception straight to Leonard Pegues.
2. Ole Miss Defensive Stand
Memphis had dug an early hole against Ole Miss. Down 14-0, the defense clearly was flat but the biggest problem was the sputtering offense. Even when the Tigers could gain some yardage, they would shoot themselves in the foot with an ill advised penalty. After finally scoring and getting on the board, the Tigers still needed a boost of energy to really gain momentum. Enter a set of cocky play calls by Hugh Freeze.
In field goal range and on third and short Freeze would opt to have his All American DT Robert Nkemdiche run the ball off tackle. Nkemdiche would leave the game with a concussion, and without getting the first down.
Ajajj: a 2016-os draft 1/1-ére is esélyes Robert Nkemdiche kapott egy nagyot a Memphis elleni meccsen, amikor... http://t.co/L8uizT5fjI— 120yard (@120_yard) October 17, 2015
Freeze, for reasons nobody knows, decided to go for it on fourth down and the Tigers again stuffed the Rebels. These two plays completely shifted momentum, and the Tigers would outscore Ole Miss 30-10 from that point.
Another barn burner type of game featured a play that had social media buzzing. Memphis and Bowling Green were trading blows in a game that would come down to the final possession.
Memphis, down a touchdown, would run a hand off and change direction on a wide-out reverse. Not too abnormal, right? Except the reverse turns in to a double flea flicker as the ball is suddenly pitched back to Paxton Lynch. Lynch unloads a 65 yard bomb to a streaking Tevin Jones and hits Jones in stride. The game would be tied and Memphis would go on to win.