A winless Navy team eager to get their season’s ship righted stands in the way of the University of Memphis Tigers, whose season is sinking amid mistakes galore.
Memphis (3-3) will have a short week to prepare for the Midshipmen after a 35-29 loss in Tulsa on Saturday. The Tigers will host Navy on Thursday (Oct. 14) at Liberty Bowl Memoria Stadium, with the game featured on ESPN at 6:30 p.m.
Tulsa’s Golden Hurricane scored 21 second-half points to snatch the win from the Tigers, whose potential game-winning drive ended with an interception of quarterback Seth Henigan with 1:30 left to play.
“When it comes down to it, it was a lack of execution in all three phases of the game,” said Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield. “Three turnovers in the game … It is hard to compete with anyone with that many turnovers. We have to figure out our kicking game with field goals and extra points.”
Self-inflicted wounds have cost the Tigers in each of the three losses this season. Against Tulsa, Henigan threw two interceptions and lost a fumble when he was under pressure. This in a game in which he tossed for two touchdowns while amassing 463 yards, the fourth most passing yards ever for a Memphis. Henigan has thrown for 400+ yards twice this season, with at least 300 passing yards four times.
“The super seniors are picking us up and letting us know it is not the end of the world,” said Henigan, holding himself accountable for the turnovers. “I just got to get right. …
“I think we did a good job of controlling the time of possession. It does not matter if you don’t score or finish drives. We always preach team over me. Accolades don’t matter if we are not scoring.”
Memphis racked up 614 total yards to Tulsa’s 428. Placekicker David Kemp missed on two field goal attempts and an extra point. Punter Joe Doyle, who subbed in for Kemp, also missed a field goal.
With 13 catches for 200 yards and one touchdown, wide receiver Calvin Austin III recorded his fifth consecutive game of 100-plus receiving yards, the second straight season he has done so.
“We have a guy like Calvin Austin who is playing his butt off,” said Silverfield. “He loves this program, and he loves Memphis. The first thing he says in the locker room is, ‘I have to get better. Those are the type of men you have in your locker room that can give yourself a chance.”
Austin said going forward, “Everyone has to look in the mirror. There is some area that every player can improve upon. … We had a great talk in the locker room after the game. I don’t know if there is anything special that needs to be said. The guys know that this isn’t it. This is not our standard. It has to change and it is going to change. … It comes down to we have to execute better.”
Silverfield said the lack of execution marred all three phases of the game.
“There are a lot of things we have to get fixed. I don’t know how this 20-21 football team will be defined, but I know they care and fight. They haven’t given up. The narrative has to change to win a game.”
With the Navy game looming and short turnaround, Henigan said, “I am just going to watch that much more film. It (the short turnaround) does not change the fact (that) we will prepare to the best of our ability.”