After action report: Cougars lost direction in second half
The Cougars have lost to another conference opponent after completely melting down in the second half of the game against the Memphis Tigers on Thursday. At 2-2 in conference play, the Cougars are now left to wonder if they can still make a run for the American Athletic Conference championship at the end of the season.
Now that fans and the team have had time to cool down and recover from the loss at home, it’s time to dissect what happened on Thursday night and figure out how the Tigers pulled off their second-half comeback.
Quarterback Kyle Postma
Stats during game: 29-40 315 yards 1TD, 1INT
Head coach Major Applewhite has tried to limit Postma’s decision-making to prevent turnovers. So far, it hasn’t worked. Postma has thrown six interceptions in four starts this season, including two each against SMU and Tulsa.
His 315 yards passing and 29 completions against Memphis may have been career highs, but they didn’t help him in the last two minutes when he turned the ball over twice to end the game.
Although he led the team to 17 points in the first half and a shootout with Memphis in the second, Postma still failed to find the same magic from that miraculous comeback win in 2015. This time it was Memphis who found magic and capitalized on key turnovers by Postma and Applewhite’s decision to punt on fourth and inches to take the lead with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Allowed: 501 total yards, 4 rushing TD, 42 second half points
The defense looked good in the first half. Not only did they hold Memphis to zero points, but it allowed just eight rushing yards. The Cougars’ defense looked to be back to glory by holding the Tigers’ offense to one-of-eight third down efficiency and 12:56 of time of possession.
Defensive tackle Ed Oliver even had a big sack in the first half, which made it seem as if the Cougars were going to roll their 17-point lead into the second half and continue dominating. But everything changed when Memphis came out firing down the field and never looked back after its first score in the third quarter.
Memphis scored 42 in the second half. Led by senior quarterback Riley Ferguson, Memphis was able to score at will and completely dominated the Cougars’ defense for the rest of the game.
Senior quarterback Riley Ferguson
Stats during game: 33-53 471 yards 1TD, 1INT
Taking over for Paxton Lynch is no easy task, but Ferguson has made the transition look easy. Ferguson has led Memphis to a ranked season and a lead in the AAC West, and the team is now bowl-eligible.
This game was no different for the quarterback, who already has more than 2,000 passing yards and 20 touchdowns this season.
Although he was held scoreless in the first half, Ferguson finished the game with 471 yards in the air and a touchdown. The 6-foot-4-inch senior was instrumental in the Tigers’ 42-point comeback in the second half.
Ferguson’s 21-yard touchdown pass came with 1:28 left in the game, and it was the nail in the coffin for the Cougars, who couldn’t get out of their own way.