Turnovers, Penalties, No Offense for the Tigers
The Memphis Tigers came out with confidence against the Houston Cougars in their second conference game of the season. With a road test for the Tigers, it was their chance to get a marquee win under their belt.
Tiger fans didn't expect for Memphis to play a sloppy game on the offensive end. As it turned out, it simply wasn't a good day for the Tigers' offense. Four turnovers killed the Tigers' chance of winning their first AAC game of the season, contributing directly to a 25-15 loss to Houston.
Freshman kicker Jake Elliot scored all the points for Memphis this afternoon. His 15 points kicking is ranked fourth in school history for a single game. If not for him, the final score could have been much worse.
In the first half, Memphis turned the ball over three times. Those turnovers led to one field goal and a touchdown for Houston, or 10 total points.
At game's end, Memphis was down by 10. Coincidence? We think not.
Let's keep a running tally: turnovers lost this game for Memphis.
The penalties against Memphis were a major issue, as well. The penalties totaled up to 86 yards. Add in the 86 yards plus the turnovers, and there's no way Memphis was going to win this game.
We've heard rumblings from some fans who were not happy with some of the play calling, and that's fair enough, but we cannot excuse all the chatter on Twitter that attempted to blame the loss on the refs.
So we can say that turnovers and penalties lost this game for Memphis.
All game long, the offense was iffy with no signs of rhythm at all. Paxton Lynch finished 21-of-41 passing for 222 yards. The good sign for Lynch was that he didn't turn the ball over like he did last week against Central Florida. But he couldn't seem to put it in the end zone when Memphis needed a score.
Then again, Joe Craig dropping a sure touchdown in the end zone didn't help Lynch's final stats, nor the Tigers' chances of winning.
With the way Lynch is playing, he gives Memphis the best chance to win. There's no need to start pleading for coach Fuente to throw in "The Piano Man," Jacob Karam. While Karam is one of the best human beings this program has ever seen, his upside at QB doesn't match Lynch's.
No matter who was calling signals for Memphis today, there would have been problems because the offensive line did a terrible job of protection. What can any quarterback do when the offensive line is not blocking? Run for their lives, throw off their back leg and pray for the best.
Lynch was in that situation all afternoon where he had to scramble outside the pocket and make something out of nothing. The running game wasn't extremely effective, either, except for the 72 yards rushing by Brandon Hayes. His yardage marks his fourth straight game with 70 yards or more rushing.
The Memphis offense finished with 349 total yards, 20 first downs, and more time of possession than Houston, but the Tigers continually shot themselves in the foot while on offense.
For those still keeping score with us, four turnovers, a poor effort by the o-line that led to an inconsistent offense, and 86 yards worth of penalties were the reasons why Memphis lost for a third consecutive week.
It's not coaching, it's not referees; it's just key errors and general lack of execution (particularly on big plays) on the field, all of which can be fixed. The Tigers are losing, but it's clear that they are close to breaking through.
Memphis is now 1-4 with an 0-2 record in conference play. Memphis will be back at home next week to take on SMU. There's no telling how the game will play out, but if Memphis can somehow get going on offense and stop making rookie mistakes, then there's a fighting chance for the Tigers.
With a three-game home stand coming up, it's time for some wins to give Tiger fans something to cheer about.
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