Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Three Thoughts on Memphis Tiger Football

Posted By on Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 8:00 AM

• Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen requested a "formal review of several plays" from the USF loss last Saturday (as described in a U of M press release). The pass-interference non-call on the Tigers' final offensive play — Bulls cornerback Deatrick Nichols had Anthony Miller's right arm like a father escorting his daughter down the aisle — warrants a review. It was egregious. And it cost the Tigers an opportunity to tie and possibly (with a two-point conversion) win the game.
click to enlarge Riley Ferguson - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Riley Ferguson

But here's the thing: football. There are so many missed calls — both made incorrectly and not made at all — every Saturday, every Sunday, every day 22 men collide 150 times in three hours. Keeping order is the equivalent of tracking a single sock in a washing machine. Missed calls — game-changing at times — are part of the ingredients we accept when served a dish of American football. There's no conspiracy against your favorite team. The Tigers have benefited (and will benefit) from missed calls. Last Saturday's loss was simply an opponent's "turn" with the advantage in this department. Honestly, why not create a stat, like third-down conversions: How many questionable calls in each team's favor? It would have been fun to see the Tigers attempt a two-point conversion to win last week's game. Quinton Flowers from the 25-yard line in overtime? Not so much.

• In their six wins, the Tigers have allowed an average of 335.5 yards. In their four losses, 607.7. In only one of its wins has the U of M given up more than 350 yards (Temple put up 531). There's an obvious component weighing these figures: the quality of the Tigers' opponents. Ole Miss, Navy, Tulsa, and USF are supremely more talented, particularly on offense, than the likes of Kansas, Bowling Green, and Tulane. Nonetheless an average of more than 600 yards allowed in Tiger defeats. Sorry for the broken record in this space, but the program must find more speed and strength on the defensive side of things to compete for an AAC championship. Three of the top four tackle totals against USF were by Memphis defensive backs (Jonathan Cook, Chris Morley, and Arthur Maulet). That's not conducive to stopping drives.

• It feels strange typing this, but Friday's game in Cincinnati should be a gimme for Memphis. These aren't the Bearcats of yesteryear (or last year). Next-to-last in the AAC in scoring (20.6 points per game), seventh in total defense (one slot behind Memphis), losers of five of their last six games. In its last three losses, Cincinnati has scored a total of 19 points against Temple, BYU, and UCF. Common opponents? The Bearcats were blown out by USF (45-20) and lost to Temple (34-13). It still feels like a rivalry game, these two programs having clashed as members of Conference USA and before that, the Metro. Memphis should treat the game with the importance it holds: A victory would clinch a third consecutive winning season.

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