Date: Friday, November 3rd
Kickoff Time: 7:00pm CT
Location: Chapman Stadium (Tulsa, OK)
Line: Memphis -12
Series Record: Memphis leads 16-11
After a couple weeks in which they started slow, the offense exploded against Tulane last week. Memphis jumped out to a 35-0 lead before the Green Wave could even blink, and the defense was given a nice cushion to work with. No clutch plays were needed from the defense this time, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be needed in the future.
Riley Ferguson is on pace to surpass his totals from last year in just his 12 regular season games this year. This comes in an offense that has numerous playmakers to downfield. Anthony Miller has been getting most of the attention from opposing secondaries, but the senior is also on pace to break his career highs from last year. Tony Pollard has been dynamic catching and running the ball, and don’t forget about Phil Mayhue either. Mayhue often gets overlooked because of Miller and Pollard as well as the emergence of a few other threats. Joey Magnifico and Sean Dykes have emerged as reliable targets for Ferguson, and John Williams or “Pop” as he’s known has become another threat receiving while also doubling as a punt returner. The three newcomers and Pollard are all sophomores, meaning that the Tigers will be dangerous next year as well. And we haven’t even mentioned the running game.
Coming into this season, the rushing attack was going to be the X-Factor for the offense. Doroland Dorceus was expected to be the feature back, but injuries limited his production early (and continue to do so). Darrell Henderson and Patrick Taylor Jr. were expected to share the backfield with Dorceus, but took off in his absence. Henderson averages an mind-blowing 8.1 yards per carry, and returned last week after an injury forced him out of the game against Houston the week before. With the Tigers depth, Taylor took over that game and rushed for four touchdowns. Dorceus is questionable coming into this game, but the two sophomores taking his place are doing a phenomenal job replacing him.
Clutch plays have defined the Tigers this season, but they can’t continue to rely on the offense to keep them ahead or in games. Memphis ranks towards the bottom of the nation in most statistical categories and, while injuries and youth have been a concern, improvements are needed. They’ve shown flahses at various positions, but overall play has been underwhelming. Young players like Austin Hall and TJ Carter are the future, and Genard Avery and Jonathan Cook are leaders, but the defense needs to help out their offense. Memphis has yet to let up less than 27 points, which will be a concern when they face high powered offenses in the future. But still, this group has plenty of potential. Carter and Hall have been exciting to watch, and the offense they will face can be one dimensional at times. This might be just what they need to show fans that they can be a reason why the Tigers win a game.
The saga continues: which Tulsa team are we going to get? First, we see them beat Houston by 28, then they are held scoreless for most of the game and lose to UConn by six, and finally have SMU on the ropes the following week. Justin Hobbs’ celebration on his called back touchdown cost the Golden Hurricane four points, and they lost by four. These are major reasons why we don’t know what we’re going to get from this team. Neither side of the ball seems to be able to figure things out consistently either.
D’Angelo Brewer and his stellar offensive line continue to run despite some limitations in the passing game. Brewer’s partners Shamari Brooks and Corey Taylor were great, but both are out with injuries. Brooks is out for the season with a broken collarbone, and Taylor continues to battle through a foot injury. Brewer has dealt with his own injuries, and the offense seems to struggle without him.
The two quarterback system looked outstanding in the win against the Cougars, but it wasn’t enough in the following two weeks against the Huskies and Mustangs. Luke Skipper appears to be the starter going forward, and Chad President continues to make appearances in each game. Justin Hobbs and Keenan Johnson are their go-to targets, but the pickings are slim after that. Hobbs didn’t lose them the game last week, but his penalty proved to be extremely costly. Expect him to bounce back against a secondary that struggles against the pass.
Defensively, not much has changed. Tulsa is still the second worst defense in the country (550 yards per game). A positive note is that they’ve made improvements in scoring defense in the last three games. Through the first six games, the Golden Hurricane allowed 44 points per game, and the last three they’re allowing 25. That’s still not a great number, but at least this group is showing improvement.
Tulsa became the first AAC team to lose bowl eligibility, but at least that means Philip Montgomery will be around longer than this year. A one-dimensional offense and struggling defense continue to present issues, but we’re at least seeing some signs of change.
The combination of Tulsa’s unpredictability and Memphis’ defense make us unsure of how this game will go. SMU is similar to Memphis in their offense is explosive and their defense struggles, and they only beat Tulsa by four (and got lucky on Hobbs’ penalty). Last week’s game could very well reoccur this week with Memphis. It could also be a 40 point blowout. We’ll stick to what we know, and it’s that Memphis’ offense is way too much for Tulsa’s defense to handle.
Memphis 56 Tulsa 17