This season the question has been: Who is beating the Tigers – their opponents or themselves?
Memphis (1-6) has had a chance to come away with a win in most off its losses, but costly mistakes have proved too much for the Tigers to overcome. So many would say the Tigers are, in fact, beating themselves.
With all that being said, Memphis still has a good opportunity to string together some wins late in the year and making this season somewhat respectable.
The latest prospect for a win came this past Saturday (Nov. 9) on homecoming against the UT-Martin Skyhawks. UT-Martin beat Memphis last year on a late field goal and from the looks of it early in the game, the Skyhawks seemed to believe they could beat the Tigers again this year.
Seven penalties (for 63 yards) and an interception from the Tigers in the first two quarters helped UT-Martin to a 6-0 lead late in the first half. Despite all the miscues, Memphis QB Paxton Lynch was able to scramble 6 yards for a score right before halftime and the Tigers took a 7-6 lead to the locker room.
The third quarter proved to be a stalemate and Memphis took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter and many Tiger fans had to be having déjà vu; however, two turnovers by the Skyhawks proved to be their demise.
In the fourth quarter, Lynch completed a 12-yard pass to running back Brandon Hayes for a touchdown and running back Sam Craft also scored on an eight-yard scamper. With a 21-6 victory, the Tigers improved to 2-6.
Although Memphis was able to come away with the win, it was very sloppy and Coach Justin Fuente wasn't exactly pleased with his team's effort.
"I told the kids that I'm happy for you, but I'm not very proud of you. I'm happy we found a way to win the ball game, it is a lot better than not finding a way to win but we can't do those things and we have got to be accountable to each other. There is a bunch of examples of us not doing that," said Fuente.
"Those things," he was referring to were "penalties, poor execution and turning the ball."
The Tigers had two turnovers and 12 penalties for a whopping 123 yards.
Memphis now leads the country in penalties.
" I view it as the ability to maintain your focus and understanding you're hurting everybody in the group when you take those actions upon yourself," said Fuentes.
The Tigers are clearly not maintaining that focus.
Memphis heads to Tampa this weekend (Nov. 16) to take on the South Florida Bulls. The Bulls are 2-6 also and have had their fair share of struggles this year (losses to McNeese State and Florida Atlantic).
The Tigers will try to win back-to-back games for the first time this year.
"We've played some good people on the road and given ourselves an opportunity to win. (We) look forward to the focus and challenge of going on the road. We need to find a way to get over the hump," said Fuente.