It was one of those lines spoken by college football players all across America – a line so familiar that you don’t notice it because it is either so obviously true or so glaringly false.
“We have a lot of weapons,” freshman running back Marquis Warford said after the Tigers had defeated Arkansas State, 31-7, on Saturday, Sept. 21, for the University of Memphis’ first victory of the season.
And for the record, Warford was right. At least for a day. The Tigers did have multiple ways to score and to stop their opponent from scoring.
Memphis running back Marquis Warford (1) carries the ball against Arkansas State at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The freshman is one of several making contributions so far.
(Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports)
Warford was one of those ways. The 5-8, 175-pound running back rushed for 173 yards and showed moves that reminded of DeAngelo Williams. Backfield mate Brandon Hayes, a senior, ran for 114 yards. It was the first time since 2008 that the Tigers had two 100-yard rushers in the same game.
“We ran the ball pretty well and that gives you a chance,” Tigers coach Justin Fuente said. “We were able to run it inside and outside and we got a couple things that hit big.”
But just as important, the Tigers were able to stop ASU’s running attack. The Red Wolves brought to town the nation’s ninth-ranked running game (295.7 yards per game) but could muster only 74 yards against the Tigers.
Memphis (1-2) made life even more miserable for ASU (2-2) with its pass rush, tying a school record with seven sacks. Junior defensive end Martin Ifedi led the way with 2.5 sacks. He also had a career-high 10 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.
“Every time I looked up I saw (number) 97 was in the backfield,” Fuente said of Ifedi.
Fuente also had praise for the secondary.
“The corner and safeties did a good job. … They just keep chucking and coming at you,” Fuente said. “It is hard to defend that many passes as well as they defended them.”
Memphis outgained ASU 505 yards to 255 yards. Redshirt freshman quarterback Paxton Lynch completed 17-of-26 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown in his third start. Ten different Tigers caught at least one pass.
More than 36,000 turned out at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and not only got to see a Tigers win, but the new black uniforms with chrome helmets.
“I love the black,” Warford said, adding, “I think we look fast in every color.”
Memphis has a bye this week. The Tigers begin American Athletic Conference play with an Oct. 5 home game against Central Florida. UCF won at Penn State on Sept. 14 to improve to 3-0. The Knights had a bye this past weekend and will play host to South Carolina next Saturday.