Memphis quarterback Brady White celebrates a touchdown against the Ole Miss defense during action in their NCAA football game at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Saturday, August 31, 2019. (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)
As Memphis goes into week 2 of the season with another non-conference game ahead, the Tigers are still on cloud 9 because of their 15-10 victory over their long-time rivals. Saturday was a great day for the Memphis Football program. Ultimately, the Tigers are off to a solid start.
Defense. Have you ever heard the saying, “Defense wins games Offense entertains”? The Tigers' Defense is responsible for Saturday’s win. In Mike Norvell’s time at the University of Memphis, Offense has been the Tigers' forte. However, his team is evolving. Defensive Coordinator Adam Fuller has done an excellent job executing defensive plays. The Tigers were able to hold the Rebels to 173 total yards. With 6 minutes left in the game, LB Bryce Huff was one of the determining factors of the Tigers' win. Huff sacked QB Matt Corrall returning the momentum to the Tigers, ultimately winning the game. Huff is this week's AAC Defensive Player of the week, which is well deserved.
Offense. The Tigers offense was mediocre. It was enough to win- this time. Tigers running game was similar to last season’s; however, QB Brady White’s passing game has not improved as much as hoped. For the Tigers to match up well against some of their conference opponents, White will have to step up his passing game. But for now, okay seems to be good enough.
Penalties. Penalties have always hovered over the Tigers’ heads, so this is nothing new. But on Saturday, these penalties were pretty ugly. Manuel Oroña-Lopez accounted for 4 of the 6 false start penalties the Tigers received on Saturday.
Coach Norvell shared similar concerns.
"It is a sickening feeling to win a game and not play as good as you possibly could have. There's a lot of sick moments about watching that game from Saturday, I thought we played well. I thought we did some really good things, but in every phase, there are plays that we should have done executed better. And so that's something that keeps us focused on the most important thing- ourselves. This is a huge week of improvement because we have to, we have to. And so that's the number one thing we are focused on."
At the end of the day, the Tigers have a much more complete team than we have seen in recent years. If the Tigers can up their offense and cut down on careless mistakes, there is no reason they can’t match up with the best of the best in the American Athletic Conference. The Tigers have another chance to improve at the Liberty Bowl this Saturday as they take on Southern University at 11 am.