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Tigers win ugly 21-6

Despite a lackluster performance for most of the game, Memphis defeated Tennessee Martin Saturday afternoon 21-6 thanks to 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Justin Fuente said that he was happy that the team won, but that it was by no means their best performance.

Paxton Lynch dives for the endzone at the end of the first half.

"I'm happy that we won the game, but there are a lot of things that I do not like about what we put on display today," said Fuente. "There is teaching to be done from it, growth to be done from it and I anticipate that we will continue to get better and learn from it."

"I told the kids that I am happy for you, but not very proud of you. I'm happy we found a way to win the ball game. That's a lot better than not finding a way to win, but we can't do those things. We've got to be accountable to each other, and there are a bunch of examples of us not doing that."

The Tigers turned the ball over twice, and were called for 12 penalties, totaling 123 yards. Memphis has now turned the ball over 17 times this year, 11 of which were fumbles.

"It's very frustrating," said Brandon Hayes. "As a senior, I have to try and correct it, especially in practice."

Four of the 12 penalties were personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which to Hayes, just aren't justifiable.

"In order to beat South Florida, there is no way that we can have penalties like that," Hayes explained. "Personal fouls and facemasks are not acceptable. We definitely have to change that around going into this next weekend."

Redshirt freshmen Tony Mays, a former Whitehaven standout who was making his first start today, was ejected in the first half for incidental contact with an official.

"It would surprise me if Tony did something deliberately of that nature," Fuente said. "Nevertheless, that hurts the football team. I'm proud of the way Tony has come along and the improvements that he has made and I think this is really important to him, but he also has to understand that we can't do those things."

On a positive note, the defense stepped up, and did their job all night long. UT-Martin had their opportunities to score touchdowns, but the Tigers were able to hold them to field goal attempts. The Skyhawks were two of four on those chances, and failed to reach the endzone for the first time all season.

"We played decent defense as a whole, and they did buckle down there in the redzone," Fuente explained. "Obviously, it gave us a chance, and our guys did play well down there."

"We tried to keep them out of the endzone," said Anthony Watson. "That was our mentality coming into this game. We played as a team, playing hard, smart and tough and we were able to keep them out of the endzone."

The Skyhawks came into the game averaging 423.7 yards of total offense, and 26.6 points per game. Memphis held UT-Martin to just 122 passing yards, a season best for the Tiger defense, and kept its fifth opponent in eight games under 300 yards of total offense. Anthony Watson pulled down his first career interception in the fourth quarter, ultimately sealing the victory for the Tigers.

"They are a great team," Watson added. "It was very challenging. They played very physical, and we just had to come ready to play hard, smart and tough. I think we matched their physicality."

Saying that the Tiger offense got off to a slow start would be an extreme understatement, as Memphis put up just 50 yards of total offense in the first quarter, including only 12 rushing yards. However, the Tigers were able to put together a drive late in the second quarter, that ultimately gave them the lead for good, and some momentum going into the locker room.

"I thought it was good," Fuente said. "We got a little something going there. Those are the hardest scenarios to be in when there is not much time left, and you are on the seven yard line. Those are times when you really need someone to make a play. Paxton stepped up and made a play. That's what you need. You need a guy to be able to get it in the endzone."

Even though Memphis was unable to score in the third quarter, the offense continued to move forward. Brandon Hayes was the workhorse for the Tigers tonight, carrying the ball a career high 27 times, for 105 yards. Overall, Memphis rushed for 109 yards in the fourth quarter, sealing their second win of the season.

"It was hard yards, but you have to be ready at any time, especially in this game of football," Hayes explained. "I can't complain about taking 27 carries, so it was a good burden."

Freshmen running back Marquis Warford did not dress for Saturday's game, and was apparently on scout team during the week leading up to the game. Fuente didn't have much to say about Warford.

"That is correct," replied Fuente when asked if Warford didn't dress. He had no further comment.

Quarterback Paxton Lynch finished the game 15 of 22 for 189 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Lynch also rushed for three yards and a touchdown. He found fellow freshmen Sam Craft three times, for 83 yards, which was a career high for the former Olive Branch standout. In fact, it was the most receiving yards by a Memphis receiver this season.

"You can make adjustments with him (Craft), you can move him around and you can play him in different spots," Fuente explained. "That's where we are going. We are just finding ways to get him the football."

"Paxton told me he was going to give me a chance to make a play on the ball," said Craft. "He ended up finding me a couple of times tonight, and the chemistry is getting there. It is getting better every day."

Craft not only shined as a receiver, but made the most of the few carries he got tonight. The true freshmen had two carries for 14 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown run at the end of the game. Craft has now rushed for three touchdowns this year, none of which were handed to him. He just seems to have an eye for the pylon.

"When you are that close to the goal line, my motto is you have to get into the endzone no matter what is in front of you," Craft added. "I just pushed, and made the second effort to get in there."

Before Saturday, it had been seven weeks since the Tigers beat Arkansas State, their lone win of the year. It was not a pretty win by any means, but considering the number of close calls that Memphis has had this season, they'll take the win, no matter how ugly it might it have been.

"It feels good to win," said Bobby McCain. "We didn't win how we wanted to, but it was a hard fought battle. We fought through adversity at times, and we played well when we were uncomfortable at times too. It's a win in the books, and we have to go back this week and prepare better."

Even when Memphis was having trouble on offense, the Skyhawks were never handed that great of field position. Outside of the two turnovers near midfield, UT-Martin had to work for every yard, large in part thanks to Memphis punter Tom Hornsey. The senior punted six times, averaging 46.8 yards per attempt, including a 70-yard boomer when the Tigers were deep in their own territory. Hornsey may not always get the recognition, but he is a valuable piece of this football team.

"I think by Tom's standards, last week was not a good night for him," Fuente said. "I think you could see that in his preparation. He was really intent on proving that he was a better player than that and I think he did that."

UT-Martin running back Abou Toure rushed for 113 yards, becoming the first player to rush for 100 yards against Memphis this season. The Tigers' defense began the day as one of just six FBS programs not to allow a 100-yard rusher.

Memphis returns to action next Saturday, beginning a two-game road trip at South Florida. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CST, and can be seen on ESPN3.com.

  • I'm just glad it's ovah. Ugliest would have been a loss. I nevah evah wanna go through a 7-6 stretch like that again. lol

    You just come along with me and have a good time. The Galaxy's a fun place! You'll need to have this fish in your ear.

  • Let's not dwell on the negatives, a win is a win, the defense hung in there and played well enough to keep UTMartin out of the end zone and the offense finally put it away with a couple of fourth quarter touchdowns. Nice goal line defense late in the first half leading to a long drive for a score and a 7-6 halftime lead which I thought gave us some momentum going in to the half.

    This post was edited by MemphisBBallFan 5 months ago

  • Story updated with Fuente on Warford.

    "As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round." -Ben Hogan

  • Grant Milner said... (original post)

    Story updated with Fuente on Warford.

    Just FYI - not seeing the Warford comments in that story.

  • AlwaysATiger118 said... (original post)

    Just FYI - not seeing the Warford comments in that story.

    Look harder.

    "As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round." -Ben Hogan

  • Pretty much what I expected...good defense and terrible offense. But, we got the win.

  • JabberFyinglyAYuckarooooooo>>>>>>> We can't keep doing this barely getting by on offense number. Nothing disrespectful to U-T Martin, but, if we want to go to the next level ( winning record and championship contention in future seasons....), then we are going to have to do better offensively and stop playing stupid penalties and miscues galore catch up football. We don't even get started playing a decent brand of ball in first halves. Offensively, I do not see improvement over from whence we started to now this season. Defensively and special teams is a different story. But if we continue to play in a haphazard manner especially statistically on offense, then the rest of the season is not going to be putting our football team in a positive direction for the future.

    My jabber does not believe this is a fun brand of football to watch. U-T Martin is not a quality opponent and we should have smacked them royally. Instead, we just get by in the fourth quarter. Hopefully, Coach Fuente will have a better recruiting year and bring in some talented, gritty players on the offensive side of the football to make us proud. At this point in the season, I expected more from this football team then delivered so far offensively. Certainly against U-T Martin, I was looking for a very convincing win towards progress. Hey, a win is a W... But in the pre-game Coach Fuente during his opening remarks on radio just before the kick off was hoping our team would come out strong from the beginning and make a positive statement. That is not what happened against U-T Martin, but it needs to in our remaining games in order for us to end on a positive note so recruiting turns out the best it possibly can...JABBER til you turn Tiger BLUE...

  • jabberblue said... (original post)

    JabberFyinglyAYuckarooooooo>>>>>>> We can't keep doing this barely getting by on offense number. Nothing disrespectful to U-T Martin, but, if we want to go to the next level ( winning record and championship contention in future seasons....), then we are going to have to do better offensively and stop playing stupid penalties and miscues galore catch up football. We don't even get started playing a decent brand of ball in first halves. Offensively, I do not see improvement over from whence we started to now this season. Defensively and special teams is a different story. But if we continue to play in a haphazard manner especially statistically on offense, then the rest of the season is not going to be putting our football team in a positive direction for the future.

    My jabber does not believe this is a fun brand of football to watch. U-T Martin is not a quality opponent and we should have smacked them royally. Instead, we just get by in the fourth quarter. Hopefully, Coach Fuente will have a better recruiting year and bring in some talented, gritty players on the offensive side of the football to make us proud. At this point in the season, I expected more from this football team then delivered so far offensively. Certainly against U-T Martin, I was looking for a very convincing win towards progress. Hey, a win is a W... But in the pre-game Coach Fuente during his opening remarks on radio just before the kick off was hoping our team would come out strong from the beginning and make a positive statement. That is not what happened against U-T Martin, but it needs to in our remaining games in order for us to end on a positive note so recruiting turns out the best it possibly can...JABBER til you turn Tiger BLUE...

    These are the type games young teams win (and lose).

    The Tigers had some very close games/losses against some very good teams, as well, this year.

    I'm anxious to see how the last 4 games go. If the Tigers can win 2 or 3, that would be a good omen for the team and the program. I think they can do it.

    GO TIGERS!!

    I'm Still Inside Your Computer

  • AFTiger said... (original post)

    These are the type games young teams win (and lose).

    The Tigers had some very close games/losses against some very good teams, as well, this year.

    I'm anxious to see how the last 4 games go. If the Tigers can win 2 or 3, that would be a good omen for the team and the program. I think they can do it.

    GO TIGERS!!

    I predicted on the radio 3 out of the last 5, which included UT-Martin, Temple and one of South Florida/Connecticut.

    "As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round." -Ben Hogan

  • AFTiger said... (original post)

    These are the type games young teams win (and lose).

    The Tigers had some very close games/losses against some very good teams, as well, this year.

    I'm anxious to see how the last 4 games go. If the Tigers can win 2 or 3, that would be a good omen for the team and the program. I think they can do it.

    GO TIGERS!!

    amen

    You just come along with me and have a good time. The Galaxy's a fun place! You'll need to have this fish in your ear.

  • The offense is way to predictable. If Paxton doesn't run the ball 5 - 10 times a game we will never have a running attack. I suspect they are protecting him from injury. He is throwing the ball accurately, and needs to go deep once or twice during the game. UGH, freshmen.... Dorland Dorcus showed a burst of speed through the hole we haven't seen since Deangelo yesterday and then fumbled at the end of the run, UGH. However you want to slice it, the offense has got to pick it up and do it now.

  • It was ugly, but a win...UTM is not bad. They have a solid running game and their guys dominated the line of scrimmage. Our o-line really needs to show improvement down the stretch.

    Here's a question for CJF in his press luncheon tomorrow...What has he done to p--- off every ref in the country? Once again, the officiating was horrible. The replay reviews - and the reviews they did NOT make - were ridiculous. Any truth to the rumor that this was the same crew that called our MTSU game?

  • Tiger87 said... (original post)

    It was ugly, but a win...UTM is not bad. They have a solid running game and their guys dominated the line of scrimmage. Our o-line really needs to show improvement down the stretch.

    Here's a question for CJF in his press luncheon tomorrow...What has he done to p--- off every ref in the country? Once again, the officiating was horrible. The replay reviews - and the reviews they did NOT make - were ridiculous. Any truth to the rumor that this was the same crew that called our MTSU game?

    He'll say the same thing he always says regarding questionable calls: "we have to earn the right to get the 50/50 calls."

    "As you walk down the fairway of life you must smell the roses, for you only get to play one round." -Ben Hogan

  • In these last 4 games I would like Coach Fuente and Coach Dickey to open up the offensive playbook a little more if possible. If there is one criticism of this year's team I feel we are a little predictable on offense. Maybe we could try a few quick slant passes, draw plays, different screen passes other than the bubble screen, some toss sweeps to our faster backs, Dorceus, Warford, or Hayes, to keep the defense off balance, this might make the play-action passes more successful and Paxton could throw the ball down the field a little more.
    Just some suggestions, I am far from being a coach or an offensive coordinator so there are probably very good reasons for the play calling this year that we as fans aren't aware of.

  • I'm staying upbeat. We will get more horses, it still is going to take two more years before we show marked improvement on a steady basis. We are getting and will get a better type player as we go. Frankly the types of players who turn programs around in a season or two aren't jumping to come to Memphis - not yet anyway. They are going to the SEC and others power conferences. We improve and we start getting a few of those guys, mix a few of those in with the 3 stars we are starting to get and we will play respectable ball again. It will come, it won't be overnight.

    I designed the fjords

  • Tiger87 said... (original post)

    Here's a question for CJF in his press luncheon tomorrow...What has he done to p--- off every ref in the country? Once again, the officiating was horrible. The replay reviews - and the reviews they did NOT make - were ridiculous. Any truth to the rumor that this was the same crew that called our MTSU game?

    According to Wolo and Jarvo it was the same crew.

  • I'm not sure what some of you guys expect. Do you remember how we performed TWO SEASONS AGO, and for the two seasons before that? We were arguably the WORST TEAM IN FBS FOOTBALL, and regularly ranked in the 160-180+ range, meaning there were up to SIXTY FCS TEAMS RANKED ABOVE US.

    Are we good on offense? HELL NO. We pretty much suck. But we are better than we were before Fuente and staff got here, and we are playing a LOT of freshmen and sophs. I get frustrated with the play calling myself, but I think part of it is the staff doesn't trust our players, and we drop balls and fumble a LOT. And commit a lot of stupid after the play penalties. But those things are correctable, and hopefully will improve with time.

    Meanwhile, we are WORLDS BETTER on defense and special teams. I recall during Porter's tenure we were probably the worst on STs I can ever recall in my memory, which goes back to 1952. We were also horrible on defense, not long ago. Now we have a highly ranked D, and play pretty damn well, again, with mostly underclassmen.

    I don't mean to call out any individuals, but some of you have short memories. We LOST to UTM 20-17 last year, and it could have been much worse, since they missed 5 FGs. We got stomped by ASU two years ago. We gave away the game against MTSU (with the help of refs), and not long ago, they stomped us, too.

    Most of the other teams we've played so far are damn good, either 6-2 or 7-1 through their first 8 games, and we were competitive in every single game, and actually could have won one or two more with a little luck. The easier games (except Louisville) are still to come.

    Also, those looking for way better recruiting might have a long wait. We lose most of the best local guys to the SEC, and we still have a big money gap with them and the other P5. I think we'll have to figure out how to win with undersized, under-ranked guys, before we have a substantial bump in recruiting.

    And that stuff takes TIME, certainly more than 1 2/3 seasons after Porter left. Fuente said privately before the season that he had no idea how many games we could or would win this year, that he thought we were at least a year away from being competitive. Although it's frustrating to lose so many close games, especially, b/c we make so many silly mistakes, we still play everybody pretty tough.

    Heck, against Martin, we looked horrible until late in the first half, and then we dominated the game after that, even though we were dominated on both lines almost the entire game. But we found a way to win, even when we weren't playing our best.

    We were a 12.5 point favorite,and won by 15. Two years ago, we were ranked anywhere from 160-185. Now we're ranked from about 80-104.

    As I said, I'm not sure exactly what some of you folks expect. Analyze more with your head, and not as much with your heart. Sorta the same thing as panicking about BB recruiting b/c Josh took 3 jucos this year, in a down year for players, and at a time we are almost all seniors or freshmen.

    This post has been edited 3 times, most recently by TripleA 5 months ago

  • Out of curiosity (and b/c I woke up so early), I looked up the latest Massey Composite Rankings, which is a consolidation of all college football poll rankings, for games through Saturday.

    80. Arkansas
    90. SMU
    91. MEMPHIS
    92. Kentucky
    99. Kansas
    101. USF
    106. Tulsa
    107. Temple
    111. Purdue
    115. UConn
    125. USM

    We're not exactly world beaters, but for perspective, two years ago, we were ranked 120-125, and with polls that included FCS teams, 160-185.

    3 remaining conference opponents (USF, Temple, UConn), and one future conference mate (Tulsa) are ranked behind us, and another conference member, SMU, is one spot up on us.

  • JabberThanks>>>>>> 3A, as always your facts are appreciated and make sense of a frustrating situation labeled Tiger football. I would hope 3A you could tell us what the Tiger offensive side of the football is ranked among its peers as of THIS WEEK. At present, it is our offense that has been the difference maker in wins and losses. Besides turnover ratio, I would imagine our offense is in the lower 15% in the nation though I do not have the facts to prove that. I trust, 3A, that you might know what stat wise is going on with our Tiger offense in football nationally. There lies the problem.

    Whether it is inexperience, lack of talent, coaching or whatever, our offensive side of the ball is consistently underachieving and causing us to not pull out victories, but have a majority of defeats so far. I think we all agree Fuente knows how to coach football. He doesn't seem to be pleased with losing either. Butttttt... offensively we have lacked creativity and imagination in what we are doing for whatever reason. That is a statement not about talent (which we all know is lacking at present), but about the plain fact that we are not very exciting on the offensive side of the football in execution of plays. We are downright ineffectual in the red zone way to often. We take very little chances and most of the time the play calling is boring to watch and predictable.

    Going forward, I would hope our coaching staff would take a What do we have to lose mentality on the offensive side of the football in play calling? It could sure use some improvement until we recruit receivers who can catch the ball and make big plays, running backs who can break away long runs without fumbling, a quarterback who can run besides pass and bigger and stronger offensive lineman to make the entire bloody situation even better by providing a sound foundation to formulate effectual play calling.

    Can we win three or win out our remaining schedule? It is not an impossible task, but the way we are calling things on offense makes it difficult to conceive. Thanks again 3A for putting our deficiencies in proper order. And I feel sure our fans will continue to go to the games in decent numbers for our losing record so far. And let's hope, our coach overachieves in recruiting for February where we do not end up again in the lower 20% of now the American during signing period. I heard our Coach say our numbers of allowable signings will be down for this upcoming signing period. That means we must have quality recruits that count for every scholarship we give out! I think we all can agree that recruiting better makes our Tiger football program viable going forward. Now JABBER til you turn Tiger BLUE...

  • Jabber, I'm not going to look up our offensive stats. I already said we suck on offense, lol. I just think it is partly b/c the staff does not trust the players to make plays, and keeps them reined in, to minimize the mistakes. JMO, no irrefutable evidence of that.

    We just aren't skilled on O. Especially glaring is our O line. We got manhandled by Martin most of the game, and managed to overcome it somehow, mostly with a few spectacular plays by Cross and Craft, with Lynch scrambling.

    The problem is we are in a Catch 22. To improve recruiting, we probably have to win more games, to give recruits hope. But to win more games, we need better recruits. Hopefully, Fuente can figure out how to win more games, so we can more easily attract better recruits.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by TripleA 5 months ago

  • JabberThanks 3A>>>>>>> I don't think an answer to my lamebrain questions can be summarized and stated any better than your last post 3A. Tiger football is and has been a frustrating situation traditionally which is sad, but not an end all in itself. Other football programs like, for instance, Vandy, make impossibility seem possible. WE NEED BADLY AS AN ATHLETIC PROGRAM FOR MEMPHIS TIGER FOOTBALL TO MAKE HUGE STRIDES UPWARD TO TAKE OUR ATHLETICS TO A MORE SOLVENT FINANCIAL LEVEL! It worries me that our AD is having to cut this and that because football is such an expensive juggernaut...

    I believe we have the right coach. I just hope he has the patience and foresight and wisdom of a 3A mentality to persevere over all the obstacles that Tiger football represents especially the recruiting angle. We are centrally located and surrounded by a lot of cheating, screw you fellas type of football programs that are so greedy that nothing is below their self gratification in order to succeed in college football. We just don't have to win to recruit. I am starting to jabberealize that we must have a lot of sheer great luck in developing talent that no one around these parts wants a flip of recruiting wise to just survive. That is pathetically disgusting to my jabberpsyche. I believe Fuente knows what it takes to WIN. Can he recruit enough good talent to make that a reality is the biggie question? Thanks 3A for your candid and informative info as usual andddd....JABBER til you turn Tiger BLUE...

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