In Saturday’s 42-6 victory over South Alabama, the Memphis Tigers were able to dominate both offensively and defensively. On the offense, they had a productive game, producing 530 total yards on offense.
Defensively, they continued their strong early season showings and allowed a season low six points, just 248 total yards and forced three turnovers.
Quarterback, Brady White, led the charge with three passing touchdowns to go along with 209 passing yards. He also managed to throw off the Jaguars’ defense by spreading the ball quite a bit, completing passes to seven different pass catchers.
However, what really set the offense in motion was their run game, specifically the efforts of running backs Kenneth Gainwell and Kylan Watkins.
When they had the ball in their hands, they were dynamic and combined for 258 rushing yards in the game. They also had an impressive first half where they rushed for 228 rushing yards on just 20 carries between them.
With both young rushers still being underclassmen, the Tigers’ offense is set for the near future and shouldn’t lose a beat after Patrick Taylor Jr. leaves the team after this season.
Now in no way is this a rallying cry to bench the incumbent Taylor in favor of the youngsters. This is only an observation of how well Gainwell and Watkins have been playing in his absence.
The Tigers’ are a prime example of an offense functioning at their best when they have a strong running game. In each of their first three games, they have had at least one 100-yard rusher in a game and against South Alabama, both Watkins and Gainwell accomplished this feat.
It would be easy to overlook these two because before this season, they were relative unknowns.
Gainwell only appeared in three games before being redshirted last season. He still managed to have 143 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.
Watkins spent last season on the scout team after growing up a Tigers’ fan.
But with such limited film on the two, they can use their talents to continue to catch defenses by surprise and become one of the most fun duos to watch in the country.
As the two backs continue to gain chemistry with each other and the rest of their offense, they will have the support of their coaching staff as they get more adjusted to college football.
What makes this duo different than that of Henderson and Pollard last season, is that both have shown that they can be key contributors in the passing game.
This season, both rushers have caught a receiving touchdown. Most recently, Watkins caught his against the Jaguars. Gainwell caught his last week against Southern.
While it being so early in the season and the health of Taylor Jr. being up in the air, there is plenty of time for Mike Norvell and his coaching staff to fully scout the talent he has at the position.
With their versatile run game, this Memphis offense has what it takes to be the best that it has been since it had first reached national prominence five years ago.