Three Thoughts on Tiger Football


• Brady White likes playing in the Liberty Bowl. The rookie quarterback's numbers through three home games this season: 63 completions in 83 attempts (76 percent) for 919 yards and 12 touchdowns, with no interceptions. Those are the kind of figures we see on Sundays from the likes of Tom Brady and Drew Brees, not from a young man establishing his place in what looked to be a distinctly run-first offense this season.
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Brady White

White struggled, of course, in the Tigers' lone road game to date (at Navy), that outing complicated by the rainy conditions in Annapolis. Which makes Friday's tilt at Tulane somewhat of a turning point for White (and the Tiger offense) this season. Memphis will be favored (unlike at Navy) and facing a team that's struggled to score this season (only East Carolina has scored fewer points among American Athletic Conference teams).

White needs to show that his Navy performance was an aberration, and that the numbers he's posted at home aren't merely the product of inferior competition. Two home games follow the trip to New Orleans. White can further establish his credentials as the big-picture leader of the Memphis offense with a strong performance Friday night.

• The Tigers have a player with All-America credentials (as a kick-returner). His name is Tony Pollard, and he wears number 1 on his uniform. The Tigers also have a sophomore defensive lineman who has made more than a dozen starts. His name is O'Bryan Goodson and he wears number 1 on his uniform.

Huh?!? How can two players on the Tigers' two-deep roster — let alone a star like Pollard and a defensive starter — wear the same number? With 85 scholarships and a few walk-ons, I can see numbers growing scarce, with perhaps the need for players sharing numbers (one on offense, the other on defense). But this particular case makes absolutely no sense. College football should have a rule — or if not, the University of Memphis should have a rule — that the 50 players who make up a two-deep (including special-teamers) wear uniform numbers distinctly their own. Those familiar with the Tigers know the difference between Pollard and Goodson with a quick glance. A fan watching a nationally televised game in Phoenix has be confused when he sees what he thinks is a star kick returner sacking the opposing quarterback.

• Speaking of Goodson, and Emmanuel Cooper, and Jonathan Wilson, and Joseph Dorceus . . . the Tigers' defensive line is making an impact in what remains a sport of trench warfare. Stop the opponent's running game and you generally leave the field a winner. Memphis is 14-1 under coach Mike Norvell when holding opposing teams to less than 150 yards rushing. (The Tigers are 7-8 since 2016 when allowing 150 yards or more on the ground.) It's the easiest measuring stick to chart as you're watching a game. Who's controlling the line of scrimmage when the Tiger defense is on the field? Tulane has averaged 174.5 rushing yards per game thus far, with Corey Dauphine putting up a cool 11.6-yard average on 25 carries.

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