Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
Memphis coach Tommy West thinks he might have finally solved Memphis’ offensive woes.
The Tigers were one of the worst teams in the country in total offense after the first two games of this season, but in a 41-14 win over Tennessee-Martin, West saw improvement and it was due in part to new starting quarterback Tyler Bass.
Bass, a sophomore, started his first game and moved the ball well. He completed 22-of-28 passes for 293 yards and four touchdowns and rushed 16 times for 80 yards and a touchdown.
His 85-yard touchdown pass to Duke Calhoun late in the second quarter was the longest offensive play for Memphis since 2003.
“I thought Tyler brought exactly what we thought; the option game to the run and hitting guys downfield,” West said during his weekly press conference. “He is a very accurate thrower and a fade thrower. He did well in the play-action game, which should now be good for us. I was pleased with the perimeter run game, the quarterback runs and screen passes.”
Bass replaced Akelon Hall, last year’s starter who has struggled during the first two games of this season. He had no touchdowns and three interceptions.
Bass came in against Middle Tennessee two weeks ago and gained some confidence by completing all four of his passes for 33 yards and rushing for 17 yards in limited time. He carried that strong play over against Tennessee-Martin and finally gave Memphis something to build on as it moves into conference play against Marshall this weekend.
West said Bass still has many areas in which to improve, but that that will come with increased reps in practice. He also said Bass can run better than he showed against Tennessee-Martin, but that he suffered a leg whip early in the game, which limited his movement a bit.
Bass is finally getting show what he can do after missing his opportunity a year ago. He played in two games and split time against Southern Miss before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Less than a year later, Bass looks to be the Tigers’ best option for success.
“We've played well in spots and then we've played terrible in spots,” West said of his team through the first two games. “It's an inconsistency right now, probably defensively [more than offensively]. If I had to pick something that pleases me the most, it is that we came back offensively. We were terrible. We were a bad offensive team. We have been inside the top 30 offensively two years in a row. All of a sudden, we are one of the worst teams in the country offensively in the first two games. I guess the thing that pleases me the most is that now we are back on track offensively.”