Memphis: Team Preview

Memphis: Team Preview

A statistical look at Memphis' team and its playmakers.

The Green Wave head to the Liberty Bowl this Saturday to face the Memphis Tigers who come into the game with a 1 and 8 record. Like Tulane, Memphis is in year 1 of a new coaching staff with former TCU assistant Justin Fuente taking over the program. His first season has been a struggle with the team taking a close loss to FCS opponent Tennessee-Martin, big losses to Duke, ECU, UCF, Marshall, and SMU. Their lone victory comes at home against Rice, who they squeaked by with a 14 to 10 victory. They hope to build some momentum in their last 3 games and headed into next year. Memphis currently holds a 6 game win streak against Tulane.

Offensive Stats

Points per Game: 18.7 (116th FBS)
Yards per Game: 288.1 (120th)
Pass Yards per Game: 115.7 (116th)
Rush Yards per Game: 140.3 (86th)
Yards per Play: 4.3 (118th)
3rd Down Conversion %: 29.91% (118th)
Time of Possession: 29:53 (63rd)
Sacks Allowed: 1.9 (61st)

Statistically speaking Memphis has one of the weakest offenses in the country. Their passing game has struggled mightily, forcing a reliance on a run game that has also struggled to be effective. They average 39.9 rush plays per game (averaging 3.5 yards per carry) to their 25.3 pass attempts. The team likes running their offense out of the shotgun, using the spread option to accentuate their run and pass game.

At quarterback the Tigers feature Jacon Karam, a RS-junior that transferred from Texas Tech. His production is not spectacular, going 136/222 for 1316 yards with 7 TDs to 2 INTs. Despite their poor passing offense he is not prone to turnovers. He also can be a threat on the ground, displaying solid athleticism and escapability. He has rushed 80 times for 151 yards and 1 TD so far.

As noted earlier, the Tigers rely on their run game and they have a stable of backs they like to utilize. Here is how their production breaks down:

  • Jai Steib: 82 att., 281 yards (3.4 YPC), 3 TD
  • Brandon Hayes: 64 att., 283 yards (4.4 YPC), 1 TD
  • Jerrell Rhodes: 52 att., 224 yards (4.3 YPC), 2 TD
  • Carl Harris: 33 att., 154 yards (4.7 YPC), 1 TD

At wide receiver the team features two main targets who make up the vast majority of the production at the position. Keiwone Malone leads the team with 40 receptions, and has 414 yards and 2 TDs to go with it. Marcus Rucker is a big play threat, nabbing 37 receptions for 432 yards and 3 TDs and averaging 11.7 yards per reception.

This week is a good opportunity for the Green Wave to play a lot better defensively after two disappointing second halves in a row. Granted, injuries made the job a lot tougher for the team but with a few keys stops the team would have walked away last week with a win and would have avoided late game drama against UAB.

Defensive Stats

Points per Game: 34.1 (103rd)
Yards per Game: 427.4 (76th)
Pass Yards per Game: 265.8 (98th)
Rush Yards per Game: 161.6 (63rd)
3rd Down Conversion %: 46.36% (101st)
Yards per Play: 5.7 (77th)

Tulane again faces a team with glaring defensive deficiencies, particularly in the passing game. Ryan Griffin has to be licking his chops knowing he's facing a defensive backfield that will not be as solid as Rice was in the first half of last week. The Wave got away from the run game last week mainly due to the early deficit, but if the team does not fall behind like last week look for the running backs to big a bigger factor. That in turn can make Griffin's job that much easier.

Memphis averages 1.5 takeaways per game (82nd) and they have not shown the ability to keep their opponents from scoring thus far. Additionally, they are one of the most penalized teams in the country, averaging 7.2 per game.

Their leading tackler is linebacker Charles Harris who has 62 total tackles, but only 13 of those are solo. One thing that jumps out when parsing the team's defensive stats is the small number of solo tackles and the higher number of assisted tackles - this could either show that they are poor individual tacklers or more likely that they tend to fly to the ball carrier. One standout for their defense is defensive end Martin Ifedi who has notched 7 sacks so far, and 9.5 total tackles for loss. He is a force on the edge that will keep the tackles busy. At defensive back, Lonnie Ballentine has proven to be a solid contributor with 2 INTs, 6 passes defeclted, and 53 total tackles (31 solo - team leader).

Special Teams

Wide receiver Keiwone Malone is the main punt returner and has not been much of a threat, taking 13 returns for 82 yards (6.2 average) and no scores. Bobby McCain handles most kick off returns, averaging 26.2 per return but if Cairo Santos keeps up his touchback rate he probably will not be a huge factor.

At kicker the Tigers have a bit of an issue, with with 2 kickers who have combined for 10 attempts and 5 makes. Tyler Spurlock appears is their kicker now and he has gone 3 out of 4. At punter Tom Hornsey has had a solid year, averaging 43.3 yards per punt.

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