The Tigers are looking to keep their hopes of bowl eligibility alive as they face the SMU Mustangs at 11 am on Saturday of homecoming weekend. The last time the Mustangs came to Memphis was one of the most memorable days in the history of the Memphis football program. College Gameday took over Beale Street, and Memphis was live on ABC Primetime Saturday night with both teams sporting a top 25 ranking. Memphis came out the victor in a classic game that put the rest of the country on notice.
Those days are long gone however as both teams look almost completely different. Both teams also have completely different goals coming into this weekend. SMU is looking to keep pace with Houston for top spot in the AAC West after their heartbreaking defeat against the Cougars last weekend. SMU still has a high-powered offense now led by junior Oklahoma transfer Tanner Mordecai at quarterback. On average they score 42 points per game on over 500 yards of offense. They are led by veteran coach and offensive genius Sonny Dykes.
While the Mustangs have high goals that can lead to a chance at the AAC championship, Memphis is looking to both play spoiler to SMU’s lofty hopes and also save themselves from going under .500 and be in jeopardy of missing a bowl game for the first time since 2013. What Tiger nation is wondering is whether Seth Henigan will be ready to play Saturday.
Henigan was not able to play in their loss against UCF. LSU transfer Peter Parrish tried his best out there, but he was at a huge disadvantage as he had never thrown a pass at the college level entering the night. Henigan left late in Memphis’ game against Navy on October 14th with a shoulder injury. The true freshman is a game time decision for Saturday’s game, and if he cannot go, there is nobody else but Parrish to take his place. With Arizona transfer Grant Gunnell out for the year and backup QB Keilon Brown in the transfer portal, the options are slim for the Tigers at quarterback.
What they do have on offense still is an offense that can get creative with the run game with Parrish behind center. Parrish flashed his running ability during the game against UCF, and he showed that he can make some things happen. The Tigers still have the running back depth to hopefully make some big gashes and not put as much pressure on Henigan or Parrish to perform. Brandon Thomas, Asa Martin, Marquavious Weaver, and Rodrigues Clark have all made big contributions in the run game at different points this season. If Henigan is ready to go Saturday, his throwing ability will make star receiver Calvin Austin and tight end Sean Dykes much bigger focal points against SMU than they were able to be against UCF.
With an 11 am kickoff, you worry if the team will be ready to go for the early game. With it being homecoming and their backs being squarely against the wall, Memphis will have to show extra intensity and motivation to beat an SMU team that they have beaten in six of their last seven meetings.