ORLANDO - After being taken apart by Cincinnati’s offense, UCF will now face a Memphis team that comes into this Friday’s game at the Bounce House averaging 35.9 points per game, good for No. 23 in the nation. Considering the Knights allowed 49 points to the Bearcats’ offense, along with 476 yards, there’s reason for concern that the defense will be run over again.
Here are the players and statistics to know for Memphis, a team that relies on its offense for a chance to win football games. A look at the Memphis defense will come tomorrow.
Led by signal caller Seth Henigan, a true freshman that’s been the only player to throw a pass for the Tigers, the passing game averages 307.6 yards per game. That’s a truly admirable statistic for a true freshman.
Henigan is 138 of 227 for 2,153 yards, a 9.5 yards per attempt average, with 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The young gunslinger has weapons that help him, one player in particular.
Wide receiver Calvin Austin III will be an NFL player. As a junior he racked up 63 receptions for 1,053 yards and 11 touchdowns during just 11 games. This season he’s off to an even better start.
Through seven games, Austin accumulated 50 receptions, 857 yards, a 17.1 average, and eight touchdowns. To say that the 5’9”, 162 pound receiver is a playmaker would be the understatement of the day.
Austin’s talents are complemented by Sean Dykes, a tight end that can be difficult to cover in space. More like a wide receiver at 6’2”, 225 pounds, Dykes hauled in 27 receptions for 441 yards, a 16.3 average, and five touchdowns so far in 2021. The key point, the average per catch. For a tight end, that’s an incredibly high rate per reception. Here are the other Memphis wide receivers to watch:
Wide receiver Javon Ivery, 17 receptions, 315 yards, a 18.5 average, and two touchdowns.
Wide Receiver Eddie Lewis, seven receptions, 140 yards, a 20.0 yards per catch average, and one touchdowns.
As one can see, the Memphis offense wins with big passing plays. That’s especially true when the top for pass catchers average 16.3 yards per catch or more. That statistic is the definition of explosive offense. It’s still not the only way the Tigers move the football and score points.
Memphis averages 179.7 yards rushing per game. Further, the Tigers average two rushing touchdowns per contest as well.
Running back Brandon Thomas carried 107 times for 642 yards, a 6.0 yards per carry average, and seven touchdowns. The redshirt freshman also caught five passes for 39 yards this season.
When Thomas plays well, it opens up the passing game for Memphis. Play-action passing is a primary reason that the Tigers hit those passing plays, and it starts with the legs of Thomas and the offensive line opening holes for him, as well as two other running backs, to run through.
Running Back Rodrigues Clark, 42 carries, 283 yards, a 6.7 yards per carry average, and three touchdowns.
Running Back Marquavius Weaver, 32 carries, 125 yards, a 3.9 yards per carry average, and three touchdowns.
University of Texas San Antonio, now ranked No. 24 in the country, held Memphis to 78 yards rushing. That came one week after Mississippi State held Memphis to 87 yards rushing. Besides those two contests, Memphis has thrived on the ground.
Every other game saw the Tigers run for at least 151 yards. As a team, Memphis scored 14 rushing touchdowns. Most importantly, Memphis rushed for 157, 151, 200 yards against Temple, Tulsa and Navy during its last three games.
The Memphis offense does not utilize the legs of its quarterback like Louisville, Navy or Cincinnati does. Those three teams gave UCF fits with attempting to contain the quarterback while also being assignment correct with all the other skill players.
This is a truly talented Memphis offense coming to the Bounce House. For UCF to be successful against the Memphis offense, it will need to do a much better job of controlling the line of scrimmage than it did versus Cincinnati. Otherwise, the Tigers will go up and down the field and score at will.
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