Memphis, TN– University of Memphis football fans may not have seen much in the way of strategy Saturday afternoon in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Still, fans had an opportunity to get a look at Tiger personnel and see the strides the team has made from this time a year ago.
“Today we came out and obviously tried to just run our very base, rudimentary, Day One installations on offense,” said Memphis second-year head coach Justin Fuente. “As for the entire spring, we have taken a step forward. We have gotten better.
“When we were out there scrimmaging with real scheme involved and real winners and losers (during spring camp), I thought we made strides,” Fuente said. “Today, we came out here and played hard. I would have liked us to do a few things differently but I thought they competed well and were fundamentally sound for the most part.”
Memphis’ Blue-Gray spring game featured 16 offensive series which all began at the 35-yard line on the long side of the field. The offense moved the ball inside the defense’s 25-yard line on four occasions but did not score. The Tiger defense forced the offense off the field on downs at the 16 and 24-yard lines early in the game while Reggis Ball’s interception of a Paxton Lynch pass at the five-yard line was returned 25 yards on the final play from scrimmage The Tiger defense also stopped the offense on fourth-and-one at the 23 during the game.
In addition to plays from scrimmage, Memphis also used the game as an opportunity to work on special teams work with plays from the punting and field goal units.
The only other turnover in a game, which also featured few penalties, was a one-handed catch for an interception by Andrew Gaines on the first play from scrimmage of one of the series.
While the Tigers may have run just its base plays during the scrimmage, Fuente said there was still an opportunity to evaluate the squad.
“I expect us to go and be physical and tough, play football and get a lot out of it,” he said. “We treat it exactly like a game except we just take out all the Xs and Os, if you will.”
Memphis’ offense accounted for 273 yards of offense – 51 rushing yards on 39 carries and 222 passing yards as the Tigers quarterbacks completed 23-of-36 passes.
Returning quarterback Jacob Karam completed 5-of-7 passes for 43 yards and was intercepted once. Lynch completed 6-of-11 passes for 53 yards. Eric Mathews completed 5-of-6 passes for 75 yards.
Junior college transfer Joe Craig caught two passes for a game-high 62 yards while sophomore Mose Frazier caught four passes for 27 yards and Jamere Valentine caught four passes for 21 yards. Tight end Alan Cross had three receptions for 41 yards.
Running back Brandon Hayes led the Tigers on the ground with 10 carries for 38 yards.
The Tigers’ defense was led in tackles by returning linebackers Anthony Brown and Charles Harris. Brown led the team with seven tackles including 1.5 tackles for lost yards (18 yards). Harris had six tackles including one for loss (5 yards).
Freshman defensive lineman Carl Mitchell had a quarterback sack among his three tackles on the day while junior college transfer Kewan Alfred’s lone tackle was also for a sack.
Memphis closes out spring workouts with Practice No. 15 on Tuesday.
The Tigers begin play in the American Athletic Conference this fall and open the season Sept. 7 at home against Duke. Season ticket prices remain the same from the 2012 season with an additional home game slated for the coming season. Fans can contact the athletic ticket office at (901) 678-2331 or go online at gotigersgo.com to order season tickets.