The Memphis Tigers offense dominated after a slow start against the Southern University Jaguars 55-24 to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Last week there was a lot of defense from the home team, while the defense showed up again, the offense was the takeaway in this week’s win. The offense found their strides throughout most of the game but also had some downfalls.
The good overtook the bad in this one. Although the offense had well over 300 yards of offense last week, they punted six times , but that changed this week. The Tigers offense exploded for 575 yards of total offense.
On the staff’s roundtable last week, I said that quarterback Brady White needed to bounce back this week after his inaccurate and one interception game last week and sure of enough he did just that. He was replaced in the beginning of the fourth quarter by Connor Adair because of his good game.
Head Coach Mike Norvell discussed White’s performance after the game. “I thought he was efficient," said Norvell. “I thought he threw the ball well, and pushed the ball down the field.”
He also mentioned that White did miss some throws, but overall had a great day.
White had two huge throws in the first quarter that each went for more that 40 yards. The pass was well thrown and in stride to the receiver respectively. The redshirt junior connected to Damonte Coxie for a 20-yard pass right before halftime. After having just 45 yards to his name last week, Coxie had a better performance with 112 yards on six catches.
White then had some missed throws that he probably would like to have back, and the offense had to settle for a field goal.
In the second half, he was an absolute handful for the Jaguars' defense. He finished the game with 337 yards passing with two touchdowns. After the game White discussed his bounce back performance. “We won," White said. “I think we let a lot of points and yards off the field today and I know we can perform at a lot higher.”
Along with Coxie, two more receivers emerged for Memphis. Senior Antonio Gibson had one catch today, but he took that reception and ran it all the way for a 55-yard score. It was the first Memphis touchdown of the day.
Another receiver who stood out in this one that was quiet last week was redshirt senior Joey Magnifico. The tight end ended the contest with 74 yards on three receptions, and his second grab was a 45 yard catch to set up Kylan Watkins' touchdown later in the drive.
With running back Patrick Taylor Jr. out for the game, back-up Kenneth Gainwell did not disappoint. He ran the ball with great power and found all the right running lanes. Gainwell was caught in the backfield a few times, but he managed to finish the game with 93 yards on 16 carries with three touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving) while also catching four balls for 38 yards.
Coach Norvell took notice of it after the game.
“He did and exceptional job,” Norvell said. "He ran the ball hard and averaged over 5.3 yards per carry which I thought was great.”
Norvell continued the high praise for Gainwell as he compared him to last year’s star Tony Pollard.
Another running back that emerged from the game was redshirt sophomore Kylan Watkins. The Whitehaven High School product got touches in the second half and made the most of them as he took the ball to the end zone from six yards out in the first drive of the third quarter.
With a solid day from the offense, there still are a lot of questions to be asked about that side of the ball. Can they wake up and start the game faster when they play better opponents? Can Norvell find the right offensive line combination when conference play rolls around?
The Tigers offense is missing the likes of Pollard and Henderson a little bit, but that narrative can change if they find their groove here soon. This game was a important start to how good this offense can be.