The Memphis Tigers headed into the conference portion of their 2022 schedule when they hosted the Temple Owls. The game was a defensive battle for the more significant amount of the first quarter.
Temple was able to get deep into Memphis territory when Owls QB E.J. Warner completed a 78-yard pass to wide receiver Jose Barbon. They were unable to score after four straight attempts. Memphis took over on downs but could not gain any momentum in the first half. Only three points were scored in the first half.
Temple connected on a 47-yard field goal by Camden Price. Later, Memphis would respond with a score of their own when running back Brandon Thomas ran for a two-yard touchdown score that would give the Tigers a 7-3 edge over the Owls. Memphis would increase their lead over Temple 10-3 after a 30-yard field goal by Chris Howard. The Owls failed to respond to the Tigers’ fourth-quarter push and eventually fell by a score of 24-3. Let’s take a look at a few takeaways from Saturday’s contest.
Another Solid Performance from the Defense
It is almost like the roles have reversed for Memphis. The defense is slowly becoming the team’s strength instead of its explosive offense. For the second consecutive week, the Tigers’ defense forced multiple turnovers that would allow the team to close out Saturday’s game against Temple successfully. Linebacker Xavier Cullens recorded nine total tackles and one interception. In total, the Tigers’ defense forced three turnovers and held the Owls to only 257 yards of offense.
The Offense Remains Out of Sync
For the second week in a row, the Memphis offense could not establish itself as an explosive unit. Temple’s highly ranked defense forced a shutout in the first, but the Tigers eventually gained momentum in the second half. Quarterback Seth Henigan had another off day as he only threw for 195 yards and one touchdown pass. Not having two starters on the offensive line because of injuries also played a part in the Tigers’ slow start on offense.
The lack of protection forced Henigan to become a runner in certain passing situations. He was sacked four times but overcame deficiencies on the offensive line and led the Tigers to victory. The running game is not back to the levels we are accustomed to seeing with this program over the years. The team ran for 136 yards, but Henigan was their leading rusher with 60 rushing yards.
What Lies Ahead?
After defeating Temple on Saturday, the Tigers now improve to 4-1 on the season and 2-0 in the American Athletic Conference. Their next game will be on Friday against the Houston Cougars. Before the season kicked off, the game against Houston was billed as a potential season-changing matchup. The game still has that meaning, but it’s more of a must-win contest for the Cougars. Houston fell to 2-3 after losing to the Tulane Green Wave.
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