2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Memphis Offense
Be able to throw against someone with a defense. The running game was dangerous and effective against almost everyone, but the difference against the stronger teams was a passing game that was way too inconsistent.
More to the point, the Tiger passing game went bum-slaying.
Oh sure, Brady White and company had a whole ton of fun against the Mercers, Georgia States and East Carolinas of the schedule, but it sputtered and coughed against the UCFs, Missouris and Wake Forests.
Memphis connected on just 14-of-30 passes in the loss to Tulane, and the next week it went 17-of-19 against UConn.
In the eight wins, the Tigers threw 22 touchdown passes, and threw for just six scores in the six losses.
More than that, though, it was about completion percentage and consistency. MU hit over 60% of its passes in seven of the eight wins, and was at 60% or under in all six of the losses.
Biggest Key To The Memphis Defense
Hold up against the run. The secondary has to pick off more passes and be a whole lot stronger overall after allowing 215 yards or more nine times in the last 11 games, but it deserves a wee bit of a break – teams had to bomb away to keep up the pace.
When the run defense failed, so did the team.
The Tigers allowed more than 200 rushing yards five times and went 0-5 – and they were bombed on in some of those games, too.
The experience is in place to go along with the rotation and production. Stop the run and hold serve a bit more, and there’s the difference between being very good and being the new star among Group of Five programs.
Key Player To A Successful Season
OT Obinna Eze, Soph.
The Tigers were terrific in pass protection throughout last season and did a decent job of keeping defenses from camping out in the backfield, and the line should be strong again around Dustin Woodard and Dylan Parham on the inside, but there’s work to do at tackle.
The 6-8, 315-pound Eze has the frame, the athleticism, and the upside to be a star, but now he has to do it for a full season. If he’s a rock at left tackle, the rest of the line should fall into place.
Key Game To The Memphis Season
at Houston, Nov. 16
The Tigers have owned the Cougars lately with three straight wins after losing six in a row. This time around, it’s a huge road moment against what should be a jacked up Dana Holgorsen squad with the AAC West likely on the line.
It’s going to be a tough run for Memphis with five road games in seven dates, and then it all finishes up with a home game against Cincinnati. Win, and considering Tulane, Navy and SMU are at home, there should be a third straight trip to the conference title game.
– Memphis Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Memphis Fun Stats
– Average Yards Per Carry: Memphis 6.4 – Opponents 4.1
– Fumbles: Opponents 27 (lost 12) – Memphis 16 (lost 7)
– Penalties: Memphis 101 for 833 yards – Opponents 88 for 776 yards