As an elderly woman was making her way out of Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Saturday, she asked, "What do you do when you win?" It was a joke of sorts.
The University of Memphis Tigers started the season 0-2. And after letting a close game against Middle Tennessee State University slip away (Sept. 14), the Tigers were left searching for their first victory of the year.
So it's no surprise that many were shocked when Memphis recorded a lopsided victory against the Arkansas State Red Wolves this past weekend (Sept. 21). Memphis wasn't favored to win the game, but it wasn't unimaginable to believe the Tigers could pull out a W. But a 31-7 rout of an Arkansas State team with a high-powered offense wasn't a scenario that any serious prognosticator would have predicted.
The Tigers' defense has been the strongest unit so far this season and that effort has been lead by red-shirt junior defensive end Martin Ifedi. The 6'3, 265 lb. defenseman led Memphis with 10 tackles, including 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for a loss and looked down right unblockable for most of the game. There were at least four NFL scouts at the game, presumably to check out Ifedi among others, but if they weren't he definitely opened a few eyes.
Another bright spot and key to the Tigers' win was true freshman running back Marquis Warford. The San Antonio native carried the ball 11 times for 173 yards and a touchdown. No matter the college opponent or level of competition, a 15.7 yard average per carry is very impressive.
With Paxton Lynch, a true freshman starting at quarterback. and Warford, a true freshman running back, coming into his own, the future for the Tigers is looking brighter. Still, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
So what do you do when you win?
Memphis head coach Justin Fuente's answer is this: "smile a little bit... then go get better."
This week the Tigers have a bye and Fuente said, "We need it to practice. We need a lot of practice."
In two weeks, Memphis heads to Orlando to take on a Central Florida team that looks to be the Tigers' toughest test yet.