Tigers Take on Division Leading UCF Saturday
Oct. 19, 2012
For University of Memphis first-year football coach Justin Fuente, this week's opponent has many of the same attributes that he is looking to instill into the Tiger program.
UCF heads into Saturday night's game against Memphis with a 4-2 record, is 2-0 in Conference USA play and is the only C-USA East Division team to remain undefeated in league play. The Knights opened conference play with a 40-20 win over an East Carolina team which ran its conference record to 3-1 with last week's win over Memphis.
The Last Meeting
October 29, 2011
For Memphis, Saturday night's 7 p.m. game is part of homecoming activities at the university as the U of M celebrates its 100th anniversary. The game will be broadcast on the Memphis Radio Network and flagship station WREC 600 as well as televised by CSS. Outside CSS' cable television footprint (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia), fans can watch the scoreboard feed of the game through Memphis Tiger Network All-Access.
Memphis' 1-5 record includes a 14-10 victory over Rice in the team's last game played in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The Tigers are currently 1-1 in Conference USA play.
"The big thing is when you look at their games, they have gotten better and better," UCF head coach George O'Leary said of the Tigers. "They've closed the gap in the score against their opponents so they're getting better at all the phases: offense, defense and the kicking game.
"The big thing I've seen is that you can see what they're trying to get accomplished on film," O'Leary added. "That's how I look at coaches. If I can see what they're trying to get accomplished when they call a play or run a certain scheme. I think their coaches are on the right track as far as setting the program. I think (head coach Justin Fuente) has done a good job."
Last week, East Carolina jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead against Memphis, scoring passes of 67 and 39 yards. The Tiger defense would come back to hold ECU to 40 yards on their next four offensive series before the Pirates began to pull away.
After the Memphis team did not have a quarterback sack in its first three games of the season, sophomore Martin Ifedihas registered sacks in each of the Tigers' last three games and UM had six as a team against ECU to equal the most since 2008. Ifedi had 2.5 sacks against ECU. He has 4.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss during the year.
Memphis will look to slow a UCF team which is averaging 409 yards per game - 159 rushing and 249 passing.
UCF sophomore running back Storm Johnson has rushed for 427 yards this season while senior Latavius Murray is coming off a game in which he scored two overtime touchdowns in the Knights' 38-31, double-overtime victory over Southern Miss.
Sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles has completed 129-of-191 passes (67.5 percent) for 1476 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Defensively, UCF leads Conference USA in yards allowed, giving up 351.5 per game. The Knights have held opponents to just a 116.9 pass efficiency rating and have intercepted opposing quarterbacks six times this season.
Middle linebacker Terrance Plummer leads the Knights with 53 total tackles including 3.5 for lost yards. Senior free safety Kemal Ishmael sidelined last week's win over Southern Miss with a second-overtime interception, his second pick of the season. He also has 49 tackles on the year.
"They have a good program," Fuente said. "They have good skill and good linemen. With that being said, I like our guys. Our guys are going to work the right way.
"We don't concern ourselves with anybody other than ourselves. We are playing a good opponent that will highlight deficiencies if we do not address them. Our guys are welcoming the challenges that lay ahead."
Following this weekend's game, Memphis is on the road the next two weeks. The Tigers travel to SMU next week. The team's next home game is Nov. 10th against Tulane. UCF continues a road swing next week at Marshall.