Last season, Memphis struggled in close games, going 0-4 in contests decided by a touchdown or less. However, this year, they’ve already won two close matchups against Navy and Boise State. This article discusses why their newfound resilience could lead to more close-game victories.
How It Can Change the Narrative
In my view, excessive conservatism has been the primary concern during Ryan Silverfield‘s tenure. The inability to close out games last year resulted in a .500 record instead of a potential 10-2 standing atop the American.
Last season, Memphis frequently adopted a defensive approach when leading, prioritizing not losing over pursuing emphatic victories. A prime example was a home loss to Houston, where the Tigers squandered a 13-point lead with just 4 minutes remaining.
This season, despite sluggish beginnings, Memphis exhibits a greater sense of urgency in the latter parts of games. This has resulted in two solid wins where the Tigers made crucial plays down the stretch. Both the Navy and Boise State games could have ended in losses for last year’s team. Now, the Tigers demonstrate a determination to do whatever it takes to win, particularly on the defensive side.
Memphis is in a position to shape its own destiny in this early season. As they approach the bulk of their conference games, they should expect more competitive matchups. Their ability to consistently win close games could catapult the Tigers into contention for the American Athletic title game.
In terms of bowl games, all Group of 5 teams are vying for one New Year’s Six Bowl slot. Currently, Memphis has some ground to make up to secure a spot in a NY6 bowl. However, with just one out-of-conference loss to an SEC team (Missouri) at this point in the season, they have a solid chance to close that gap.