First, the SMH Index on stupid penalties went Memphis 235, Marshall 40, subject to a recount. U of M coach Justin Fuente was generally disgusted with that … just one thing he has to overcome as he enters the Big East.
On to the grades …
Three three-and-outs were the biggest problems, with the third one keeping that crazy Memphis rally alive. Running game struggled until the final possession, when Steward Butler belted out two first downs and ended the festivities. No turnovers, three TDs out of three trips to the red zone … Wasn’t stratospheric, but got the job done, considering how well Memphis kept the unit off the field in the second half.
I’m tempted to make the a “C” just to stir the pot because, hey, this unit limited somebody to 28 points. Only one FBS foe (Ohio) has that been lower. The 372 total yards weren’t far from a season-low, either. … But really, the second half was a real groaner, wasn’t it? And Memphis receivers dropped a few long passes to help bail this unit out. Had trouble identifying the ball carrier and shedding blocks at times.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F
Props to Jeremiah Taylor for his blocked field goal, which did have an impact. But there was the fake punt, giving up an onside kick (never excusable) and another long kickoff return, which forced MU into squibs. … Which brought a bit of luck with the ricochet off a Tiger.
Maybe I’m nitpicking on a man who went 34-of-44 for 341 yards with 4 TDs and no picks, but I can’t get the brutal run call vs. all-out blitz up the middle off my mind. Fortunately, Cato hit Davonte Allen down the left side for the crucial TD on the next play … that was pretty sweet.
My biggest beef: Herd was not ready for that onside kick, which you should be when a penalty moves the ball up to the 50. Doc said his unit was ready, but I’m skeptical. For all the defensive problems, that fourth-down blitz call was the best of the year.
Quit holding your noses. It’s a win, and on to Birmingham. Get ready for a throwing offense, my friends.