September 26, 2022

Tigers Win Home Opener Over Red Wolves

Photo Credits- Raymond Chiozza Photography

As the 32,620 fans filed into Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium with their digital tickets {another article for another day}, you could feel the excitement for this season’s home opener for the Tigers. Coming off an emotional win at Annapolis last week, the hometown Tigers were ready to play against Arkansas State in front of Tiger Nation. This week was Memphis’s annual ‘901’ game, as they would wear the numbers of their zip code on their helmets. In its history, the Tigers are now 4-0 all-time in these helmets after their 44-32 win.

What led to the Tigers’ win? Who had breakout games? What is the post-game analysis for Memphis?  Let’s find out these questions and more from the Tigers’ fourth straight win over Arkansas State and their twenty-third win out of the last twenty-four games at home against non-conference opponents.

What Led to The Tigers Win

Photo Credits- Raymond Chiozza Photography

Can’t ‘Duck’ The Running Game

On Saturday night, Memphis Offensive Coordinator, Tim Cramsey, established that this team would run it early and often against the Red Wolves. Memphis had 45 rushing attempts with five rushers. The running game has returned in a balanced attack from starter Brandon Thomas and his backup Jeyvon Ducker. Thomas had thirteen carries for 46 yards {3.5 yards per carrying}, and a touchdown. Ducker led the way for the Tigers on the ground with seventy-six yards and had the longest run of the night on his 39 yards, which resulted in his lone touchdown. Asa Martin had nine rushes for 26 yards, and freshman Sutton Smith chipped in with three rushes for 21. Based on the last two games, this is becoming a staple of the Cramsey new-look offense for Memphis.

Photo Credits- Raymond Chiozza Photography

Hanigan Is Coming Up on History

Sophomore sensation Seth Henigan continues to impress with his play on the field. Coming into this week, Henigan had already moved to eighth all-time in passing yards at Memphis. Including the 360 yards against Arkansas State game, Seth has thrown 4,262 yards at Memphis and sits at number seven in school history. He trails Danny Sparkman {83-85, 4,311 passing yards} by 49 yards for sixth place. If Seth averages his 3,322 yards from last season and stays all four years, he will theoretically finish with 13,288 yards which would overtake Brady White’s {18-20, 10,730 yards passing} record by 2,558 yards.

 Henigan and Cramsey have created a special bond, and the stats back this up. Tiger fans are watching something extraordinary happen right in front of them. We recently interviewed Joe Scates, who spoke highly about Henigan and even compared him to his former Iowa State teammate Brock Purdy, which is highly praised.

Defense Keeps Playing Well

During the preseason, Defensive Coordinator, Matt Barnes, changed the defensive scheme, and it has made a difference. The Tigers would switch to a 4-3 style and move their sack leader, Jaylon Allen, to the defensive line, and he is shining. Allen would lead the Tigers in tackles with nine total, with three of them being solo tackles. He was joined by linebackers Tyler Murray and Davion Mayo, who had eight tackles each. In the last two games, this Memphis defense has started to show that they are adapting to the style and the standard that Barnes wants them to play on the field. Memphis would get a fumble recovery making it eight consecutive games with at least one turnover. Over that stretch, the Tigers have eighteen takeaways.

Who Had Breakout Games?

Gabriel Rogers

Rogers would have a standout day. He led the Tigers in receptions with five, receiving yards with eight eighty-six, and accumulating one hundred twenty-eight all-purpose yards with his forty-two kickoff return yards. Rogers now has twelve receptions for two hundred and fourteen yards in just week three of the season. Rogers has become Henigan’s go-to receiver, making the most of it with his play.

Post-Game Analysis

Memphis showed out for the home fans in their season opener. The Tigers had 547 yards of total offense {187 rushing, 360 passing} and held the Red Wolves to only 370 {95 rushing, 275 passing}in another barn burner between these two regional rivals. Arkansas State has not won a game in Memphis since the 2006 season. The Red Wolves are scheduled to host the Tigers in Jonesboro next September in the final matchup of their current series.

The Tigers’ offense has awakened and looks to be a more potent offense than last season. This team can go far with Henigan playing stellar and a more balanced running attack. Once you add in a defense that is progressing weekly, this program may look at its ninth consecutive bowl appearance.

Further reading

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