The defense was offensive. I think I am being kind only calling it offensvie. I mean, the teams combined for over 1,300 yards. There were records set. Cincinnati had a passing record set by a freshman QB, Memphis and Cincinnati had to have a combined offensive record set for ESPN's Thursday night game, the Tigers set a school record 11 straight wins, and surely the AAC JV officiating squad set a record for yards thrown on flags.
But lets that a moment and focus on some singular plays. Because when teams combine for 173 plays from scrimmage there has to be some plays that stand out.
- Gunner Kiel Injury
Unfortunately this play is in here for all of the wrong reasons. Just 6 days prior to the Memphis game Kiel was knocked out of a game against Miami (OH). At the time the Cincinnati coaching staff (namely head coach Tommy Tuberville) was quoted (I'll paraphrase) as stating that Kiel had his "bell rung" and was "fuzzy." That sounds pretty serious, right? Fast forward from Saturday to Monday and Kiel is taking part in team practice. In fact, he is taking starter reps and Tuberville is backtracking saying the injury was more "to the shoulder," and not a head injury.
Fast forward again to Thursday night and the first quarter of the game and this takes place
That moment was terrifying. Initially flagged, the play was reviewed and deemed clean by the officials (can we trust them after their Thursday night performance?). However, Kiel would stay down for several minutes before being taken to Methodist University Hospital in Memphis. By all accounts, Kiel is doing much better but questions linger following this hit. One major question is should Kiel have even been in the game? I am hopeful that Kiel was cleared medically and passed all concussion protocol this past weekend. Maybe this was completely unrelated to any injuries sustained in the previous weekend. However, if that is not the case, the entire Cincinnati staff (especially head coach Tommy Tuberville) should be held accountable.
Again, this play is highlighted for all the wrong reasons. A players health was severely in jeopardy after a hit. Injuries happen all the time but rarely are players carted off. On top of it all it seems questionable if Kiel should have even been in the game.
Gunner, I sincerely wish you the best in your recovery.
- Reggis Ball's David Tyree'esque interception
Everyone remembers the Super Bowl XLII moment when David Tyree effectively halted the Patriots perfect season. Well, Reggis Ball did his best impersonation of the catch tonight, only this time it was on an interception.
Ball's unbelievable catch came in a third quarter that, if only for 15 minutes, saw the offensive explosion come to a screeching halt. Ball picked off the ball in what is one of Memphis' only three interceptions on the season (all in this game). All three interceptions were huge in their own right (Ball off the head, Arthur Maulet for the pick 6, and Leonard Pegues to end the game) but none were more impressive than the above video.
- Sam Craft's go ahead touchdown
The game started and Sam Craft fumbled. On the second play of the game no less. Crafts fumble led to a Cincinnati touchdown just over a minute later. So Craft had to shake it off and bounce back, right? On the ensuing kickoff Craft would bobble the ball out of bounds starting the Tigers offense on their own 2. I'm not in Crafts head but I can assure you this was not the start he had envisioned.
Memphians love to see other Memphians do well. So the Sam Craft redemption story is a sweet one. With the Tigers marching down field late in the game it was Craft who electrified the stadium. Craft would, at one time, rush to the left and simply bowl over a Cincinnati defender. With fire in Crafts eyes the Tigers would continue to feed the ball and Craft would score the game winning touchdown two plays later. Although he only finished with 55 (total) yards (and two touchdowns), a game winning touchdown score was such sweet redemption to such a atrocious start for Craft.
So now I turn the discussion over to you. There were 173 total plays. Teams combined for 1,322 yards. The two quarterback combined for 1,032 of those yards. In such a fun game with all of those plays, which ones, in your mind, stuck out?