The Tigers traveled to Jonesboro today with hopes of easing fears. After a 45-point thumping against a Top-20 team from the mighty SEC to open the season, Memphis would face an Arkansas State team expected to finish in the middle of the Sun Belt Conference pack.
There’s much to fear. The Red Wolves gained 336 yards and a 27-point lead by halftime in what would be a 47-3 drubbing of the Tigers. Memphis has now lost a program-record 11 straight games and failed to score as many as 20 points in any of them.
Freshman quarterback Taylor Reed made his first start for the Tigers but won’t remember today’s affair any more pleasantly than his debut in relief of Andy Summerlin against Mississippi State. Reed completed 13 of 28 passes for just 84 yards (none of his completions made it as far as 20 yards downfield).
Billy Foster started at tailback in place of the injured Jerrell Rhodes but averaged only 3.2 yards on 14 carries. Freshman Artaves Gibson was no better, picking up 39 yards on 14 carries. Overall, Memphis gained 165 yards (after compiling 338 yards in the opener). The Tiger defense yielded 614 yards (after allowing 645 against MSU). The Tigers were a woeful four of 16 on third-down conversions.
A 71-yard touchdown pass from ASU quarterback Ryan Aplin to Josh Jarboe early in the second quarter looked all too similar to the five big-play scores Memphis suffered in its first game. Aplin threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns, with Jarboe on the receiving end of seven passes for 162 yards and two scores. The Red Wolves evened their record at 1-1.
The Tigers return to the Liberty Bowl next Saturday to host Austin Peay, a team that enjoyed a bye week after losing to Cincinnati, 72-10, on September 3rd. The Tigers haven’t played the Governors on the gridiron since 1957, but own a 6-0 record against the second-tier program.