If the last time you paid attention to Memphis football was one season ago when they upset Ole Miss and caused you* to send mostly incoherent all-caps text messages that demanded everyone get fired, you should know that the Tigers are back to their winning ways in 2016. Despite the loss of star quarterback Paxton Lynch and head coach Justin Fuente, this year’s version of Memphis is still burning up the scoreboard.
*or maybe that was just my lunatic self
In two games against Kansas and Bowling Green, Memphis’ offense has scored 14 touchdowns (106 points) and produced 1,029 yards of offense. While you wouldn’t be wrong in saying that Kansas and Bowling Green (109th and 118th in S&P+) are worse than the Memphis Pizza Cafe (@ ME ALL YOU WANT), the ball still has to be run, thrown, and caught against such garbage.
To see how the Tigers’ offense accomplished those things so well, let’s go over a few examples I found while combing through the film. You should know that most of Memphis’ big plays were fairly simple and guys won individual matchups, so I looked for more creative plays, like the ones they’ll have to use against Ole Miss’ superior talent.
Memphis vs. Kansas
Before we get started, this image represents what it’s like to voluntarily watch Memphis/Kansas highlights:
We start in the first quarter against Kansas. A wide receiver comes in motion in a jet sweep/read option conglomeration. Our focus shifts to the linebackers and two defensive backs who are charged with diagnosing the play.
Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson holds the linebackers with his read, and creates an issue on the edge for Kansas.
Both tight ends and a running back turn into a triumvirate of blockers, who happen to be facing an equal number of defenders.
Not shockingly, this went in Memphis’ favor.
The wide receiver found his lane and pressed the accelerator.
A nice bit of scheming by Memphis, but perhaps some overkill. I would’ve liked the odds of one Memphis blocker against four Kansas defenders, so they were just SHOWING OFF.
And that brings about the end of any teachable moments from the Memphis/Kansas game.
Memphis vs. Bowling Green
Somewhat related, this image represents what it’s like to voluntarily watch Memphis/Bowling Green highlights:
If there was any question about whether or not I value my time, we have an answer today, friends.
Hugh Freeze has spent many minutes in press conferences (and presumably on the practice field) talking about his defense, particularly the young defensive backs, lacking eye discipline. As we shall see in the next few shots, Memphis will test whether or not they can maintain that.
On Memphis’ first possession, Bowling Green is playing man across the board. The linebacker and defensive back circled have responsibility for any tight ends or running backs leaking out of the backfield (the other linebacker and defensive back blitz).
Memphis gives the illusion some read option could be involved in this fourth and short, but they’re just testing the eyes of Bowling Green’s defenders.
After the tight end releases, the entire Bowling Green defense does not recognize that he is available to receive a pass because they’re too busy falling in love with the sight of Ferguson holding the ball.
The result of the play is not just an easy first down, but a touchdown (pretty much the case for all of Memphis’ plays against Bowling Green).
A few series later, which we join late due to crap directorial work in the TV truck, Memphis once again takes advantage of Bowling Green putting their eyes in only one place.
One linebacker picks up the running back involved in the read option diversion, while the other two do more bad things.
No one picks up the running back running down the middle of the field because they’re too busy staring at whatever is going on in the backfield. As a result, I believe Memphis will score again.
On Memphis’ next possession, they run a version of that previous play, which, again, requires eyeballs to be in the right place in order to stop it.
In an unsurprising development, Bowling Green fails to see what Memphis is doing here.
SPOILER: They were not looking at the running back going straight down the middle of the field.
While Memphis mainly relied on having better players to blow apart Kansas and Bowling Green, they showed the ability to run plays that require a defense to remain disciplined in order to stop them. If the Ole Miss defense gets a case of wandering eyes, the Memphis offense will have no problem taking advantage and making it a game deep into the second half, which I do not need in my life at nine o’clock on a Saturday night.