The 3-2 Tulane Green Wave are seeking to win their 3rd consecutive game tonight, as they host the University of Memphis Tigers in an early season American Athletic Conference showdown at Yulman Stadium in uptown New Orleans, in just a few short hours from now.
Here’s a quick Preview and Prediction for tonight’s contest:
WHO: Memphis Tigers (4-1, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) vs. Tulane Green Wave (3-2, 0-1 AAC)
WHEN: Tonight, Friday, October 14th, 8:00 pm EST / 7:00 Central
TV: ESPNU, ESPN3
WHERE: Yulman Stadium in Uptown New Orleans
SERIES: Memphis leads all-time series: 20-11, Memphis won last year’s meeting 41-13
The Memphis Tigers come into Yulman Stadium tonight having fought off a late surge by conference rival Temple last week; holding them off for a 34-27 win.
The 4-1 Tigers have played 4 of their first 5 games at home. The previous away game was a loss to SEC opponent Ole Miss. The Memphis offense is led by Tennessee transfer, QB Riley Ferguson.
Oct 1, 2016; Oxford, MS, USA;Memphis Tigers quarterback Riley Ferguson (4) makes a pass during the first quarter of the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Memphis first year head coach Mike Norvell, a former Arizona State offensive coordinator, has been instrumental in the Tigers high-octane, dynamic offense.
Norvell was instrumental in QB development at Arizona State. Norvell runs a quick strike system but preaches balance with the run game to keep teams honest which gives his QB run-pass options.
Ferguson has thrown for 11 TD’s and 5 interceptions. The Tigers are ranked 42nd in total offense (446 ypg), 11th in scoring (43 ppg), 31st in passing (281 ypg), and 74th in rushing(165 ypg).
The Tigers run game is led by New Orleans native Dorland Dorceus — who averages 6.6 yards per carry and has scored 6 TD’s.
Ferguson likes to throw the ball downfield using play action and gaining huge chunks of yardage. Ferguson has deceptive athletism which allows him to buy time and hit targets downfield. Five of Ferguson’s 11 TD’s have gone for 40+ yards.
The Green Wave secondary is aware of Ferguson’s elusiveness and big play ability:
"“We really expect a lot of shots, a lot of deep balls,” said Tulane cornerback Donnie Lewis. “A lot of the stuff they’ve seen teams have prior success on us, that’s one thing we’ve focused on. We’ve been paying attention to player personnel and getting a feel for them.” “He’s a lot more mobile than people think,” Lewis said. “He isn’t always looking to take off and run, but he can definitely move around and we just have to limit those deep throws after he extends the play.”"
The Tigers defense has given up 1155 yards in the past 2 games (Ole Miss & Temple). Both teams were able to pick the Tigers defense apart.
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Ole Miss threw for 361 yards and Temple threw for 445 yards. The Tigers pass defense which allows 269 yards per game and is ranked 102nd in the nation, while the run defense allows 134 yards per game, 37th ranked in the nation.
The Tigers defense allow 20 points per game and have 15 takeaways;10 of those which are interceptions, with 3 returned for TD’s.
The Tigers use multiple fronts and very aggressive blitz packages. The Memphis defense uses intricate schemes to confuse opponents’ offenses.
The Memphis special teams are led by Freshman WR Tony Pollard, who averages 30 yards per return and last week against Temple had a 95-yard kickoff return TD. Tigers kicker jake Elliott has converted 7 of 9 FG attempts.
The Green Wave offense must control the clock, and score TD’s.
Tulane’s time of possession this season is 33:16. The Green Wave must be able to protect the ball, the Green Wave are + 8 in that category, while the Tigers are a +7.
Tulane’s pass offense — while improved in the last 2 games — faces a stern test. The Tigers pass defense can be exploited, but the Green Wave must be able to pass for more than their 105 yard season pass offense average.
QB Glen Cuiellette has to be disciplined in his reads and make sure that he keeps the chains moving. The Green Wave can’t play behind the chains and get into 3rd and long. This would play into the Tigers defense’s plans and they’ll be able to unleash their blitzing scheme.
Sep 1, 2016; Winston-Salem, NC, USA; Tulane Green Wave quarterback Glen Cuiellette (14) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field. Wake defeated Tulane 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Simply stated: the Tulane pass offense has improved over the past two weeks but it isn’t the Green Waves strength — but it’s the one weakness on defense that Memphis does have. The Tigers pass defense is giving up 60% pass completions to opposing QB’s.
Tulane’s defense must limit Memphis big plays. They need to keep Ferguson contained in the pocket and force the Tigers into methodical drives. Tulane’s longest TD given up so far this season has been 28 yards.
Defensively the Green Wave have done a good job of keeping things in front of them, but the Tigers are the most explosive team so far that the Green Wave have met all season.
The Green Wave are the 13th overall defense in the entire nation, and it could be one of the best ever in the football program’s storied history.
Nov 14, 2015; West Point, NY, USA; Tulane Green Wave linebacker Nico Marley (20) celebrates a defensive stop alongside defensive end Royce LaFrance (48) during the second half at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
They’re yielding 171 yards per game in the air, and 138 rushing. Seniors Nico Marley and Tenzel Smart both have 6 tackles for loss and 3 sacks a piece, and together they pretty much control the line of scrimmage and stay disciplined.
Parry Nickerson has also been a factor; with 2 INT’s that leads a Green Wave secondary that will have to be ready for an all-out aerial assault.
FINAL ANALYSIS AND PREDICTION:
The Green Wave scratch and claw to stay in the game with the Tigers, but the Memphis offense proves to be more than the Green Wave can handle. The Tigers win and continue their win streak against the Green Wave .