Game Preview: Memphis @ Tulane

Memphis Travels to Tulane Seeking First Conference Win

WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m. CST

WHERE: Yulman Stadium

TV: ESPN2

ODDS: Memphis -14 per oddsshark

The Tigers enter week 5 play coming off a win against an inferior South Alabama team, that saw Memphis hit some rough patches early, before taking control of the game and winning 52-35. Memphis now sits at 3-1 with the lone loss coming on the road at Navy. Memphis hasn’t exactly had the toughest schedule today, but have handled their business except in their sole away game in Annapolis. Memphis has won 11 straight against Tulane, with the last loss coming way back in 2000.

Tulane is coming off 49-6 beatdown courtesy of Ohio State in which their PAT attempt was blocked following their only touchdown of the game. Tulane currently sits at 1-3, with the win coming against FCS Nicholls State. The Green Wave’s other two losses came at the hands of UAB and Wake Forest, neither of which have had much success outside of their wins over Tulane.

Memphis Offense

Darrell Henderson continues to lead not only the Memphis offense, but the entire nation in rushing. Henderson currently leads the FBS in all-purpose yards (903), rushing yards (709), yards per carry (12.22), rushing yards per game (177.3), and sits at 2nd in rushing TD’s (8), and 3rd in total TD’s (9). Not too shabby, not bad at all as a matter of fact.

The Memphis ground attack ranks 5th in the nation with 309 yards per game, while the passing game ranks just outside the top-30, with the Tigers ranking 4th in Total Offense averaging just shy of 600 yards per game. Quarterback Brady White leads the American Athletic Conference in QB Rating and is tied for 7th nationally with 12 touchdown passes.  White has thrown just one interception, which was a Hail Mary (kinda) at the end of the first half against Navy.

Damonte Coxie has emerged as White’s favorite target and he currently sits at 4th in the AAC in receiving yards. Coxie, one of several Louisiana natives on the Memphis roster, is coming off back-to-back 100 yard games in which he totaled 3 touchdowns. Fellow receiver Pop Williams hauled in his first career TD last week against South Alabama, and is the only other Tiger with double digit receptions.

Tight end Joey Magnifico, who appears to be being used more as a run blocker this year (and he’s pretty damn good at it) finally caught a couple passes for big gains that Tigers fans have become used to over the past few years. Sean Dykes will make his return from a 1-game suspension this week, and it really wouldn’t surprise me to see both of these players targeted more in this game than they have been for much of the season.


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Tulane Defense

Simply put, the Tulane defense has struggled to start the season although the Ohio State loss may have inflated the numbers to make them appear a bit worse than they actually are. However, after losing 5 of the 9 top tacklers from last year’s team some type of drop-off may have been expected.

The Green Wave defense comes into the game ranked 91st in the country in Points Against, 114th in Total Defense, 96th in Rush Defense and allowing 304 yards through the air. It appears that drop-off has taken Tulane’s D from middle of the road to near the bottom of the barrel, but there is still time for them to turn it around. On the bright side for Green Wave fans, cornerback Donnie Lewis is tied for the AAC lead with 2 interceptions.

Memphis Defense

The Tigers defense is lead by team captain Curtis Akins, Austin Hall, and returning AAC Rookie of the Year TJ Carter. Akins has 27 total tackles on the season, while Hall leads the team with 4.5 tackles for loss, and Carter leads the team with an interception and 2 pass break-ups.

Memphis defender Austin Hall, 25, celebrates a fumble recovery on the Tigers one-yard line against South Alabama during action in Memphis, Tenn., Saturday, September 22, 2018.
Photo: Mark Weber/The Commercial Appeal

The Tigers rotate in a plethora of talent at the linebacker and defensive line positions, but JoJo Dorceus seems to be one of the lineman that wreaks havoc almost every snap he’s on the field. Linebacker Bryce Huff, who could be starting for the injured Jackson Dillon, leads the team with 4 sacks on the year while fellow linebacker Nehemiah Augustus has 3 QB hits of his own.

Memphis is currently ranked 23rd in Total Defense in the FBS, allowing 151 yards on the ground and 166 passing yards per game to date. The Tigers defense has forced 6 turnovers through the first 4 games.

Tulane Offense

Senior quarterback Jonathan Banks leads the Green Wave after starting 11 games last season. The dual-threat QB has rushed for just 43 yards so far this year after racking up nearly 600 via his legs last year, but Banks has thrown for 792 yards with just 1 interception to 5 touchdowns. The senior signal caller finished 8-14 against Ohio State for  just 141 yards following a 7-24 game against UAB that surprisingly consisted of 2 TD’s.

Sophomore running back Stephon Huderson leaped to the top of the Green Wave depth chart this week, despite only gaining 71 yards on 29 carries so far this year. Darius Bradwell is listed as the second back, having amassed 238 yards on the season, while former top back Corey Dauphine who has a 3-touchdown game under is belt, is no longer listed on the team’s depth chart.

Junior receiver Darnell Mooney sits 2nd in the AAC in receiving yards, behind Marquez Stevenson of Houston, and top 20 in the FBS, with 385 yards and 2 touchdowns, including two 100-yard games. Fellow Jr. receiver Terren Encalade is not far behind, with 310 yards of his own and 2 TD’s, including a 74-yard house call.

Game Notes

  • Memphis is 15-0 in non-saturday, regular season games since 2014
  • Memphis has won the last 11 matchups against Tulane
  • Darrell Henderson’s 2,345 career rushing yards place him 6th on the Tigers’ All-Time list
  • Memphis has a total of 12 players from the state of Louisiana on the roster

Prediction

Honestly, I am surprised the line is only 14. Memphis should be able to do whatever it wants in this game, even it bad weather rains down upon the Tigers yet again. Memphis just has too much talent and Tulane has not been impressive as of yet. The Tigers also realize that the door to the AAC Championship game remains wide open and every conference game from here on out must be approached with a must-win attitude. I’ll take the Tigers in a blowout as Darrell Henderson gets back over the 200-yard mark for the 3rd time this season. Memphis 52-20.

@BarnBurnerSlim

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(Header Image & Game Notes: GoTigersGo.com)

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