Over the years, one of the biggest weapons in the arsenal of the Memphis Tigers has been their vaunted rushing attack. The Tigers running game has been at the forefront of great teams that the program has fielded for several years. The team has a 19-0 record when the rushing attack approaches at least 160 yards on the ground.
The position did not reach those marks last season and was not up to par during the previous year. They have not had a 1,000-yard rusher in three seasons. As the 2022 campaign approaches, the program aims to return to its status as one of college football’s premier rushing attacks.
“There’s been a different guy with the ones every single (practice), but I think that’s good. The scrimmages really are sometimes the best way to get a tell for things,” coach Silverfield said Monday. “Some guys may be running behind the third offensive line, but right now, it truly is up for grabs. But they’re all capable.”
According to coach Silverfield, he wants two primary running backs that the team can rely upon for the upcoming year. “Too often, we’ve had to go down the depth chart, and I’d like to be able to really stick with who are our top two guys,” Silverfield said. Obviously, you want to be able to trust your third, your fourth, and then if they’re the fifth or sixth, they better be playing.” The Tigers recently held their annual fall camp, leading up to the eventual season’s start.
Memphis is counting on second-year quarterback Seth Henigan to take a significant step as the program’s man under center. The Texas native threw for 3,322 passing yards, 25 touchdown passes, and only eight interceptions. Regardless of playing at the college or professional level, an effective ground game can have huge dividends for a young quarterback. Today, we’ll look at a few areas of how an efficient rushing attack can benefit Henigan this season.
Control Time of Possession
One of the most effective strategies to keep high-powered offenses off the field, such as Mississippi State is to control the time of possession with a steady ground game. As explosive as Memphis can be through the air, there will be times when the offense will have to grind it out on the ground to be successful. Outside of Mississppi State, Memphis will be facing teams that contain explosive offenses such as Houston, SMU, and UCF. If things are not going well through the air, the running game will be Henigan’s best friend.
Explosive Playmaking Ability
If a team’s running game is effective, defenses tend to stack the box to prevent big gains. So, when this happens, quarterbacks can utilize the play action pass, resulting in an explosive play. Also, a stellar running game can swing the momentum of football games. Even though Calvin Austin lll is no longer with the team, there will be a wide receiver by committee approach to establishing big plays through the air.
Even though coach Silverfield has not listed who will take on the role of RB1 and RB2, I am willing to bet that the front-runners for those spots will be Brandon Thomas and Jeyvon Ducker. Senior Asa Martin could also be in the mix, but Ducker and Thomas are the types of personnel that can restore consistent productivity to the position.
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