Will the Memphis Tigers Bluff? Or Are they Bowl Bound?

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The Bluff City’s only major league sports team, the Memphis Grizzlies, have developed a new rallying cry for the city of Memphis, assisted by Memphis hip hop legend DJ Paul. “We Don’t Bluff.”

Unfortunately, that can’t be said for the Memphis Tigers football team. Not yet.

It may not seem like it, but going 3-9 last year was a major improvement for the Tigers in Justin Fuente’s second season, despite going 4-8 in his first, when he inherited a program that had fallen off a cliff all the way to the bottom of the ocean.

The schedule got much tougher as they entered the American Athletic Conference, not just from the addition of Louisville and Cincinnati but also because the teams that moved to the AAC with them, such as Central Florida, were much better than they were in 2012. And the Tigers were in every game last year until the last two of the season.

But they bluffed.

Dec 7, 2013; East Hartford, CT, USA; Memphis Tigers head coach Justin Fuente watches from the sideline as they take on the Connecticut Huskies in the second quarter at Rentschler Field. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

While only losing by a touchdown to Louisville and Central Florida and coming within 5 points of SMU, Memphis’s two blowout losses were to very bad teams: Temple and Connecticut. They were also the last two games of the season.There was a 2-point road loss in the second game of the season to Middle Tennessee State as well. So they were inconsistent.

But given what the Tigers were before Fuente took over, not because of the coaching but because of a gross lack of support from the previous administration, inconsistent is a major improvement to the alternative…consistently bad. Now they need to take the next step.

With lots of returning talent and experience on both sides of the ball after having an incredibly young team last year, Fuente’s squad should become much more consistent this year and possibly steal a couple of close games. Do they have the talent to do that? They just might.

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