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A Strong Ground Attack Elevates Memphis To Victory in Season Opener

Photo courtesy of GoTigersGo.

In a resounding start to the 2023 season, the Memphis Tigers football team kicked off their campaign with an impressive victory over the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). A strong performance in their season opener was crucial for the Tigers as they aimed to set the tone for the rest of their season. The 56-14 triumph secured a confident start and hinted at the team’s potential to make waves in the coming weeks.
The Tigers’ ground attack played a pivotal role in their victory, showcasing a level of dominance that had been missing in recent years. A total of 208 rushing yards highlighted the team’s commitment to establishing control on the field.

Running back Sutton Smith emerged as a standout player, ending the Tigers’ drought of not having a 100-yard rusher since 2021. Smith’s impactful performance brought back memories of Brandon Thomas’ spectacular display against Arkansas State. Smith’s 115 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns underscored his significance as a force to be reckoned with on the ground.

Teammate Blake Watson complemented Smith’s efforts, contributing 75 yards on ten carries and an impressive three touchdowns. Their combined prowess signified a promising development for the Tigers, who may have found two reliable rushers in Smith and Watson. As the season unfolds, the production of these two runners will undoubtedly remain a focal point for the team and its eager fanbase.

While quarterback Seth Henigan’s early performance was marred by two interceptions, his resilience and determination were on full display as he rebounded in the second half. Henigan’s 27 completions out of 36 attempts for 334 yards and two touchdown passes illustrated his ability to bounce back and contribute meaningfully to the team’s success through the air.

On the defensive front, the Tigers exhibited exceptional skill and coordination. With three sacks recorded against Bethune-Cookman’s quarterback, the defensive unit effectively curtailed the opponent’s passing efforts, limiting them to a mere 39 yards. This defensive prowess underscored the Tigers’ well-rounded approach to the game, demonstrating their capability to dominate on multiple fronts.

As the season’s first game unfolded against a relatively less challenging opponent, the Tigers’ performance provided a tantalizing glimpse of their potential when matched against stronger adversaries. While victory was expected in this encounter, it was a tantalizing teaser for what lies ahead when the Tigers are pitted against opponents with greater firepower and strategic prowess.
In conclusion, the Memphis Tigers’ emphatic 56-14 victory over the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats ignited their 2023 season positively.

The strong ground attack, led by standout rushers Sutton Smith and Blake Watson, set the stage for a potential resurgence in the team’s offensive capabilities. Quarterback Seth Henigan overcame a shaky start to deliver a compelling aerial performance, while the defensive unit’s three sacks and overall dominance signaled a well-rounded approach to the game. While the matchup against Bethune-Cookman showed the Tigers’ potential, the road ahead promises sterner tests to gauge the team’s mettle.

What Lies Ahead?

In Week 2, the Tigers head down I-55 North to take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves in this year’s version of the “Paint Brush Bowl.” The Red Wolves will be highly motivated to play the Tigers after coming off a 73-0 beatdown by the Oklahoma Sooners in Week 1.

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Meet Derrick Branch, the founder and chief wordsmith at Strike 7 Sports. With a sharp focus on the NFL and the NBA, Derrick's expertise in sports is matched only by his passion for sharing it with others. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the prestigious University of Arizona Global. Let his insightful and engaging writing take you to the heart of the action.

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