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First Look: Memphis Tigers

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

It’s official: The University of Hawaii football team will play Memphis in the 2021 EasyPost Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. The Tigers finished their regular season with a 6-6 record, going 3-5 in the American Athletic Conference. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two programs. This will be the Tigers’ eight straight bowl appearance.

Here is a quick look at the Tigers:

HEAD COACH: Ryan Silverfield is in his second full season as head coach of the Tigers, having taken over the program in December 2019 after Mile Norvell left for Florida State. Silverfield has more than 20 years of coaching experience, including stints with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions. In 2015, he was the senior offensive analyst at Arizona State, serving under current Hawaii head coach Todd Graham. Silverfield’s overall record at Memphis is 14-10 (8-8 in the AAC).

KEY WINS IN 2021: On Sept. 18, the Tigers beat the SEC’s Mississippi State, 31-29, extending their winning streak at Liberty Bowl Stadium to 17 straight games. On Nov. 6, Memphis upset No. 23-ranked SMU, 28-25, securing the program’s first win over a nationally ranked team since defeating No. 21 Cincinnati in the 2019 AAC championship game.

THE OFFENSE: The Tiger offense utilizes multiple sets and formations and features a balanced attack (445 passing attempts/416 rushing attempts). They average 30.1 points (fifth in the AAC) and 435.8 yards of total offense per game. They also average 298.8 passing yards per contest, which is second in the AAC.

THE DEFENSE: Memphis uses multiple schemes on defense and surrenders 29.2 points per game. They give up 418.1 yards per game (250.9 passing yards/167.2 rushing yards).

SPECIAL TEAMS: Tiger placekickers are a combined 12 for 19 in field goal attempts this season. Punter Joe Doyle has a 46.0 average on 40 punts, landing 16 inside the 20.

TOP STAT: Memphis is a disciplined team, averaging just 39.58 penalty yards per game. That ranks them tied with Air Force at No. 11 in the country.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Redshirt senior receiver Calvin Austin III was a unanimous pick for the All-AAC First Team this season after leading the conference in receiving yards (1,149) and finishing second in receptions (74). The 5’9, 162-lb. NFL prospect has scored 10 TDs this season (eight receiving, one rushing and 1 via punt return). TE Sean Dykes, OL Dylan Parham and LB JJ Russell were also All-AAC First-Team selections. In addition, watch out for Quindell Johnson, a redshirt junior DB who recorded 104 total tackles (second on the team behind Russell’s 123) and 11 pass breakups. And true freshman Henigan has impressed at QB, passing for 3,322 yards and 25 TDs (eight INTs) in 11 games.

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