Memphis Takes on Solid UCF Squad Saturday
Oct. 4, 2013
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University of Memphis football coach Justin Fuentehas referred to UCF as one of the soundest teams the Tigers have faced during his tenure.
In Memphis' American Athletic Conference opener on Saturday, the Tigers have a formidable task in playing a UCF team which is coming off a hard-fought, 28-25 loss to No. 12 South Carolina. It was the Knights' first loss of the season after outscoring its first three opponents 110-38.
"I think the thing that jumps out at you most as a coach is their sound scheme," Fuente said of a UCF team which is 3-1 heading into the league opener. "They are always where they're supposed to be. They play awfully hard."
Kickoff Saturday is slated for 3:30 p.m. in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The game will be streamed online at ESPN3 and broadcast locally on Memphis' flagship WREC 600. Memphis' pregame radio show begins at 1:30 p.m. and originates from Tiger Lane.
After holding Arkansas State to less than half of its total offense average and 225 rushing yards less than what the Red Wolves had been averaging, Memphis' defense faces another challenge this week when the Tigers' take on one of the nation's most prolific offensive attacks.
Memphis faces a UCF team which is averaging 450 yards of total offense including 297 yards passing which ranks 22nd nationally.
UCF junior quarterback Blake Bortles has passed for 1,174 yards this season. Bortles' numbers including a 186.1 pass efficiency rating which ranks seventh nationally. He is averaging 293.5 yards passing (15th) and 15.65 yards per completion (9th).
Junior running back Storm Johnson is averaging 92.3 yards rushing (37th) for UCF and his seven touchdown runs ranks sixth nationally and leads The American.
Facing a nationally-ranked opponent last week, UCF held South Carolina scoreless in the first half, marking the first time the Gamecocks did not score in the first half of a football game since the Papajohns.com Bowl on Jan. 2, 2010.
The starting defensive line of Thomas Niles, Deion Green, E.J. Dunston and Demetrius Anderson combined for 12 tackles, one sack, three tackles for loss, a pass break-up and a fumble recovery against South Carolina.
Junior middle linebacker Terrance Plummer has led UCF in tackles in all four games this year, highlighted by a 14-tackle performance against South Carolina.
Opponents have lost six of seven fumbles this season as UCF ranks seventh in fumbles recovered. The Knights 0.8 turnover margin ranks 35th nationally.
"I watch them play and I think they try to play the game the right way," Fuente said. "They're fundamentally sound and they play hard, smart and tough. You rarely see them hurt themselves or see them make silly mistakes."
Memphis is coming off a bye week following a 31-7 dismantling of Arkansas State two weeks ago.
In its win over A-State two weeks ago, the Tigers' defense tied a school record with seven quarterback sacks while the team's 12 tackles for loss came up just short of the record of 16 set back in 1996.
Memphis junior defensive end Martin Ifedienters the week as the nation's leader in both quarterback sacks (1.8 per game) and tackles for loss (3.0 per game).
Memphis heads into the week with 27 tackles for loss. The Tigers have had 11 different players register a full TFL thus far this season. Behind Ifedi's 9.0 for the season, linebacker Anthony Brown and defensive end Terry Reddenhave each recorded three.
"I think they are doing some really good things on defense," said UCF coach George O'Leary. "There is a lot of experience back on their defense.
"Offensively, I think they have pieces in place right now. I think their quarterback (Paxton Lynch) is going to eventually be a real star in this conference. You can see he throws on time, he can run. And they have a lot of quickness on the field. As I told our players, we better make sure we understand what we have to do to go up and play a tough game and win. They are a very much improved football team."
Through three games, Lynch has completed 50-of-77 passes for 494 yards and two touchdowns.
The Deltona, Fla., native completed 17-of-26 passes for a season-high 176 yards against Arkansas State. Lynch completed a six-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alan Crossin the A-State game.
Cross's touchdown reception against Arkansas State was the seventh of his career and puts him in a tie with Billy Kendall(1997-00) for the most touchdown receptions by a tight end at Memphis.
In its last outing, Memphis' running game accounted for 329 rushing yards and freshman Marquis Warford (173 yards) and senior Brandon Hayes(114 yards) became the first running back tandem in five years to have 100-yard rushing performances in the same game.
"They threaten the field horizontally, vertically and keep your defense down to a responsibility defense," O'Leary said. "All it takes is one guy not to do his job and there's the ball running down the field or being throwing down the field. We have our work cut out for us this week when it comes to accountability. Everyone is responsible for their position individually. When individuals do their jobs it usually leads to good team situations."
Following Saturday's American Athletic Conference opener against UCF, Memphis goes out of state for the first time this season, traveling to 4-0 Houston which is currently enjoying a bye week. UH is building a new on-campus stadium and playing its home games this year in three different venues. The Memphis/Houston game will be played at BBVA Compass Stadium which is the downtown home of the Houston Dynamo Major League Soccer franchise. Kickoff is 11 a.m. and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNews.
UCF gets a break next week before traveling to Louisville on Oct. 18.
While Saturday's game is available online through ESPN3 and WatchESPN.com, the game will receive additional exposure on two cable providers' sports tiers.
Fans with Bright House cable, will be able to see the game in Birmingham (Channel 406), Central Florida (208), Detroit (406), Indianapolis (406) and Tampa (823). It will be available on Time Warner Cable in Upstate New York (1552), Central New York (398), Carolinas (518), New York City (197) and New England (1552).
In addition to WREC AM 600, Memphis football games are also broadcast by WAMB 1160-AM in Nashville and WJAK AM-1460 in Jackson, Tenn. The audio broadcast is also streamed through <a href="http://www.gotigersgo.com/allaccess/?media=398319"><b>GoTigersGo.com.</b></a>