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Memphis Tigers Statistical Leaders

A year after going 3-9 in their first year in the American Athletic Conference the Memphis Tigers are a team on the rise in the AAC. They might not be ready to challenge UC and East Carolina for the conference crown, but they are a better and more balanced team this year than they were a year ago.

Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

Running Game

  1. Dorland Dorceus -- 46 attempts, 237 yards, 5.15 ypc, 4 touchdowns
  2. Brandon Hayes -- 43 carries, 197 yards, 4.58 ypc, 1 touchdown
  3. Jarvis Cooper -- 15 carries, 8.67 yards, 8.67 ypc, 1 touchdown

The loss of Dorceus for the season is obviously a huge blow to the Tigers running game. But they do have a steady hand to turn to in Brandon Hayes and an exciting young back in Jarvis Cooper who is almost certainly going to get more touches this Saturday than he usually would have. The x factor for the running game is the positionless Sam Craft who splits time and reps between receiver and running back. As of this game he is averaging about 6 carries and 4 or 5 targets in the passing game.

Passing Game

  1. Paxton Lynch -- 60.4 completion rate, 847 yards, 5 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 121.38 quarterback rating
  2. Keiwone Malone -- 1 attempt, 0 completions

Lynch has shown a lot of growth between last year and this season. He hasn't yet made "the leap," his receivers aren't good enough for him to get to that point. But he is playing smarter, more efficient football. The next step for him to to be more efficient down the field, but again he needs the weapons to make that happen.

  1. Keiwone Malone -- 19 catches, 260 yards
  2. Mose Frazier -- 12 catches, 114 yards, 1 touchdown
  3. Alan Cross -- 8 catches, 127 yards, 3 touchdowns

Malone is the dangerman for this year's Tigers team. Alan Cross is a weapon at tight end. Cross reminds me a little bit of Ben Guidugli in that he is an effective blocker in the running game and a dangerous weapon in the vertical passing game. Frazier is alright as a third option, but there is nothing much beyond those three. That being said the Bearcats will make one of them a star.

Offensive Line Stats

  • 185.75 rushing yards per game
  • 4.27 yards per carry
  • 6.75 tackles for loss allowed per game
  • 1.25 sacks allowed per game
  • 4% sack rate
  • 8% pressure percent

Coming into this season I did not think highly of this offensive line, but I do now. This has been a consistent and consistently good group, particularly in protecting Paxton Lynch. That was a major problem for them a year ago, but it is not longer. They have had two starting combinations through four games, but the only change has been at right guard. I worry about any team that has a competent offensive line now, and Memphis fits the description now.

Tackle Leaders

  1. Tank Jakes -- 27 solo, 6 assisted, 33 total
  2. Fritz Etienne -- 14 solo, 5 assisted, 19 total
  3. Leonard Pegues -- 15 solo, 3 assisted, 18 total

Jakes is the one who makes the Tigers go on defense. As of right now he is probably a first team all conference pick at linebacker along with Jeff Luc and Zeke Bigger. Plus he is named Tank, that is always a plus. The linebackers are just generally good like everything else on the defense they are just rock solid

Pressure

  1. Tank Jakes -- 9 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
  2. Jackson Dillon -- 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack
  3. Gernard Avery --  2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks

The Tigers are a very active defense. They send a lot of pressure from a lot of weird angles. That was the case a year ago as they became one of the best and most consistent defenses in the AAC. Having a middle linebacker be the leader in both tackles for loss and sacks is unusual. It suggests either a lack of brute strength or ability up front. Its a little bit of both from where I am sitting. The Tigers are really missing Martin Ifedi last years breakout star at defensive end who hasn't been seen since the first game of the year.

Pass Defense

  1. Bobby McCain -- 3 INT, 2 pass breakups
  2. Fritz Etienne -- 1 INT
  3. Bakari Hollier -- 2 pass breakups

This is a much better secondary that the Bearcats will be seeing than they saw against Ohio State. The Buckeye's have more talent, the Tigers are rock solid. Bobby McCain is by far the best cornerback in the AAC this season, and the Tigers have complimentary pieces around him to help him shine.