The University of Memphis Tigers football team traveled to North Carolina this past weekend (Sept. 22.) to face the Duke Blue Devils. The Tigers lost 38-14.
This probably didn't surprise many in the True Blue Nation, but it might have left them shaking their heads. The Tigers have now dropped to 0-4 on the season.
The Tigers actually came out early and held the lead close to halftime, but the over the course of game the Duke defense asserted its dominance. Add in the eight penalties for 88 yards and it's easy to see how this game was played out. Many three and outs and a few drives killed by costly penalties.
This is why fans are shaking their heads. It's not in disgust, but more in frustration. Game No. 4 traveled the same route as the first three losses. An inept offense combined with a mix of untimely turnovers and momentum-stopping penalties is not a recipe for success.
Sometimes it really does come down to the numbers. Memphis has been penalized 25 times over the four outings for a total of 261 yards. That's an average of 65.2 yards a game. Mistakes such as that can truly change the outcome of the game, especially when they are committed at crucial points.
There are also a few other numbers that point to some problem areas for the Tigers. Through their first four games, the Tigers rank last in sacks on the opposing quarterback in Conference-USA. How many? One!
Knowing that Memphis isn't getting much pressure on the opposing QB makes it easier to understand why Memphis ranks near the bottom of the barrel in total defense (eighth) and pass defense (ninth).
Although the sacks are an issue, the Tigers' offense isn't helping either. Memphis' total offense ranks tenth and its passing offense comes in at No. 11. So, part of the defense's problem is that they are on the field too much of the game.
The good news – yes, there is some – is that the Tigers have a bye this week and some extra time to work on their assorted problems. They return to action on Oct. 6 for their C-USA opener against Rice at the Liberty Bowl.
Head coach Justin Fuente had a succinct assessment of the one-week break, stressing that it was a "bye week not a off week."
Enough said. The Tigers have been working hard this week. Hopefully, the payoff comes against Rice.
Or else fans might find themselves walking away, again shaking their heads.