Over halfway into the 2013 campaign, the University of Memphis football team has been competitive in each and every week. Yet through seven games, the Tigers have only been able to tally one win.
So is head coach Justin Fuente satisfied with their improvement?
"In a lot of ways, we should sit back and say 'look at the progress.' It's encouraging to get close. It's a lot better than where we were last year. We were getting our doors blown off left and right," said Fuente during his weekly press conference.
"We're getting close, and that's not what we're aiming for. We have to find some solace in the fact that it is going to continue to get better," said Fuente.
That may be true, but losing is still no fun.
Fortunately for the Tigers, their remaining schedule (outside of the game at Louisville) looks to be a stretch of winnable games. However, Coach Fuente has a different view.
"I would look at it differently. I would look at it as they're all like that. There's not a big difference between any of those teams, regardless of record or where they're at," he said.
Fuente's comments are typical for any coach, but all of the Tigers' remaining AAC opponents (USF, Temple, and UConn) are in the bottom half of the conference. And anyone tuned into the facts would likely disagree with Fuente's analysis.
Before the Tigers gets to those matchups, they host the UT-Martin Skyhawks (6-3) on Saturday (Nov. 9) for their homecoming game. Despite a shocking loss to the Skyhawks last year, this should be a game the Tigers win with ease.
Since its last outing was on Wednesday of the week prior and not Saturday, Memphis has had a few extra days of practice leading up to the contest. UT-Martin has looked well-rounded this year, albeit against the lesser competition of the OVC, and brings a solid run game to the table.
Although Memphis' run defense has been its strongest unit this year, the Tigers will have their hands full with UT-Martin tailback D.J. McNeil. McNeil leads the OVC in rushing and is averaging 100-plus yards per game.
The Tigers started off slow last year, but finished the season with three straight wins en route to a 4-8 record. With its weak remaining schedule this year, Memphis looks poised to make another strong finish.
Will the Tigers rally late this season, as well, or will they continue to come up just a little short?