Two games into the season and the University of Memphis Tigers football team is undefeated, with a decisive 37-3 win over the Arkansas State Red Wolves adding to the positive vibes ahead of a nationally televised game against the Navy Midshipmen on Thursday (Sept. 14).
Memphis will host Navy (1-1) at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, with kickoff set for 6:30 p.m. ESPN will provide the telecast. It will be the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
For Memphis, the 60-mile trek on Saturday to Jonesboro, Ark. produced the Tigers’ fifth straight victory over the Red Wolves and their first road victory of the young season.
The Memphis defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown in its first two games and is ranked 12th in the nation with points allowed. The defense is second in the nation in total yards having allowed 150, which is second only to the Air Force Academy.
Memphis defensive back D.J. Bell had a career-high six tackles and an interception returned 36 yards for a touchdown. Linebacker Chandler Martin finished with a team-best seven stops to go with 1.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. The Tigers’ defense forced 4 turnovers in the game.
“I have seen it a lot of times in practice,” Bell said of the play that resulted in his interception and touchdown. “We were going over what they do. When I saw the play and the receiver going to the boundary, I knew it was my play to make. I just went to the endzone after I made the play.”
Martin said the defense is playing well “because of all the hard work we put in at practice. We try to have a good Tuesday and Wednesday practice and let it roll over into the week. It feels good to see it all come together and play well as a team.”
Bell said the defense’s performance up to this point “gives us a lot to build on. It gives us confidence going into next week. It was just a great team win.”
Head coach Ryan Silverfield said, “Anytime you have four takeaways it is stunning…. It is phenomenal going out there to see them play; the effort by the guys. There were multiple players making plays.”
Defensive lineman Derick Hunter Jr. posted 1.5 sacks, while Jarra Anderson had one. Defensive back Cameron Smith had three tackles and an interception, while DeAgo Brumfield totaled four tackles, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble and five pass breakups.
Offensively, quarterback Seth Henigan completed 21-of-29 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 26 yards and another score. Wide receivers Joseph Scates and Tauskie Dove each had a receiving touchdown against the Red Wolves (0-2) while running back Ke’Travion Hargrove ran it in from 17 yards on the game’s final play.
Henigan started the game missing his first four passes and then connected on 19 of his next 20 passes.
“I did not notice I started 0 for 4 or finished that way,” said Henigan. “I am trying to stick to my reads and trust my coaching.”
Eight different receivers caught passes.
“I feel we have depth in our receivers’ room. Plays are not designed for anyone in particular,” Henigan said. “I just go through my reads. Whatever we can do for our offense to be successful, that is what we will do. (Against Arkansas State on Saturday) it was spreading it around.”
Silverfield said Henigan did “a really nice job. He did what he needed to do. He will be the first to say here are the five plays I need to fix. We will fix those and move on.”
As for how well the Tigers did the little things on offense, Silverfield said, “I don’t think we did what we needed to do to play as efficiently as we want. Maybe we can play a lot cleaner on offense.”