After posting another win at home, the Memphis Tigers (2-0) will be facing their first road test. They will be traveling to Mobile, Alabama to take on the South Alabama Jaguars (1-1), a team they defeated last season. The Tigers won that game 52-35.
Both teams are coming into this game confident after earning victories Saturday.
The Tigers defeated Southern 55-24, with quarterback Brady White leading through the air for a stellar day. Running back Kenneth Gainwell made big plays on the ground and through the air.
South Alabama got their first win of the season against Jackson State after beating them at home 37-14. Running back Tra Minter led the Jaguars to victory after rushing for 189 yards on just 16 carries and two touchdowns.
Where the Tigers’ offense lacked in their opening game, they made up for it in spades against Southern. As previously mentioned, Brady White had a great game, posting 337 passing yards on 17 completions and two touchdowns. What makes those numbers so impressive is that White did not play the fourth quarter.
Admittedly, it would have been easy to doubt that the Tigers would have had a better game than their first one, especially with starting running back Patrick Taylor Jr. out for an undetermined amount of time.
Luckily for the Tigers redshirt freshman Kenneth Gainwell was more than ready to step up to the plate and had three touchdowns in his first career start.
When asked by the media how he was able to have such a strong showing, he said that the Jaguars had not prepared for him.
“I don’t think they were ready for me,” Gainwell said. “They didn’t get to see much of me last year, so they didn’t know what I could really do.”
In the first half of the game, it seemed like the positive things being said about the Memphis’ offense, could not have been said about the defense, especially when it came to stopping the run.
In the first half, they allowed 157 rushing yards, more than they had allowed in the whole Ole Miss game.
The Tigers looked like a completely different unit in the second half and not only shut down the run but allowed just 15 total yards in the last 30 minutes of play.
Following a tough loss to Nebraska in their opening game, South Alabama was searching for a win and got it against the Jackson State Tigers.
The biggest difference between the Jaguars’ two games is the success of their run game. Against Nebraska, they rushed for just 83 total yards. Against Jackson State, they ran for an astonishing 413 yards.
They were led by senior running back Tra Minter who had 189 yards on 16 carries, his highest total of the 2019 campaign. He is expected to continue his strong season against the Tigers, a team he rushed for just 41 yards against last year.
When it comes to the Jaguars’ defense, head coach Steve Campbell said that he wants his defense to get off to a good start against Memphis.
“Offensively they sent a couple of guys to the NFL last year, they were very explosive, but this year their first game was against Ole Miss with a new defensive coordinator, so I know they weren’t as prolific as they’re used to being but they did come out with the win,” Campbell said. “They went back to the drawing board and got a lot of things buttoned up between week one and week two and were able to put up 55 this week. It will be a big challenge for us this week, but it is one that we are definitely looking forward to.”
For Campbell’s defense to do well, they will need their defense to get more pressure than the one sack they got last week. Though they did not have the pass rush they would have wanted, they played physical and forced two fumbles and recovered one.
They also came away with an interception, courtesy of senior cornerback Jalen Thompson, his first of the season.
Even with the injuries that have seemed to plague the Tigers, this is the perfect time for them to earn their first 3-0 start since 2017. Their offense seems to be clicking at the right time, potentially making this team one of the most lethal in years.
Though South Alabama’s run game always has the potential to make a big play downfield, this stifling Tigers’ defense looks like it is in the best position to limit those yards. The offense seems bound to continue their success from last week. This game could be another scoring affair for Memphis.
Memphis 58-14 South Alabama