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October 20, 2013
The Memphis Tigers' football season is halfway over and the Tigers are 1-5. Are there any positives from the first half or is it time to say, "There's always next year"?
With a 1-5 record, it's really easy to say that there's no improvement or that things are going from bad to worse. But is that really the case?
Last year the Tigers were 1-5 as well. Last year the margin of defeat in the first six games was 16.8. This year it's 7.6.
That's a 9-point improvement.
Last year the worst defeat in the first six games was by 34 points against East Carolina. This year it was by 14 against Duke.
That's a 20-point improvement.
Last year in the first six games the Tigers lost by more than 10 points three times. This year? Only once.
Last year the defense was allowing 424 yards per game after the first six games. They gave up 300 or more yards in five of the first six games.
This year the defense is allowing 331 yards per game in the first 6 games. They gave up 300 or more yards in a single game just twice so far this year.
That's a 93-yard improvement per game and a three-game improvement on allowing 300+ yards in a single contest.
Before we go any further, it's very important to mention that this year's schedule in the first half of the season has been more difficult than last year's first six games, making these improvements even more noteworthy.
Most impressively, last year the Tigers defense was ranked 100+; this year they are 14th after six games.
How's that for improvement?
Last year the offense was averaging just 288 yards per game through the first six. This year they are averaging a much healthier 359 yards per game. Last year Jacob Karam was the starter with a weaker schedule (and we dare say a stronger offensive line). This year under redshirt freshman Paxton Lynch the Tigers have a 71-yard improvement in total yards per game.
Last year the offense had just two games of 300 or more yards in the first six contests. This year five of the first six games yielded over 300 yards of total offense.
Still think there's no improvement?
Last year the Tigers had a 30.8 third down conversion percentage. This year they have a 33% conversion rate.
Last year the Tigers gave up 14 sacks in the first six games. This year they have given up 17. Okay, so there had to be something that went backwards.
Last year Karam had six TDs and only one interception in the first six games. This year Lynch has three TD's and five INTs.
WAIT! Stop the presses. We've found the smoking gun! There it is. There's the proof the negatoids needed to prove Memphis was better last year. There's the proof that things are going downhill and fast.
Keep in mind, though, that Karam had a better offensive line and a weaker schedule. Offensive lineman Jordan Devey is a huge loss and a hole that hasn't been filled.
Last year Karam averaged 156 passing yards per game in the first six. This year Lynch averages 198 passing yards per game (eaxctly the number of yards he had Saturday against SMU).
Now after you come to your senses and look at all these facts, you might just realize that things are not as bad as the 1-5 record seems to indicate.
The six games remaining are all winnable. Yes, I said they are all winnable. Even Louisville. Ask UCF if Louisville is beatable and then think back to the Memphis/UCF game. The Tigers should have won that game but lost it in the final minutes.
Now we're not trying to pump sunshine in your backsides, there's room for improvements. There's a huge need to STOP turning the ball over. There's a need to STOP committing so many penalties.
Last week's attendance was 16K and change. Shame on those who are jumping off the bandwagon after six games because they see a 1-5 record.
You need to realize that these Tigers are 5 blind refs errr 5 plays away from having a really good first half of the season, something on the order of 4-2 or even 5-1.
There is hope. There is no need to push the panic button. . . yet. We continue to say to give this young team time to turn things around. They're improving and deserve your support.
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