JONESBORO, Ark. — With 5 minutes and 34 seconds left in the third quarter, Arkansas State’s backup quarterback threw an 11-yard touchdown to the backup running back.
It’s not that Arkansas State’s starters were injured. The game was simply already out of reach for the University of Memphis.
ASU head coach Hugh Freeze’s first-team played just one possession after halftime as the Red Wolves pummeled the Tigers, 47-3, in front of 29,872 at ASU Stadium.
“It’s obvious that we weren’t prepared (Saturday), but I truly believe that I have a locker room full of guys that are better than that,” U of M coach Larry Porter said. “It’s embarrassing.”
A week removed from allowing 645 yards of offense against No. 20 Mississippi State, the Tiger defense gave up over 600 yards to the Red Wolves.
Junior quarterback Ryan Aplin was 19-of-21 for 274 yards and three touchdowns, while redshirt freshman running back Frankie Jackson carried the ball ten times for 104 yards and a score.
“I thought we had a real plan going in, and it didn’t materialize,” Porter said. “Same song, different verse.”
On the Red Wolves’ first drive, Aplin was picked off in the end zone by U of M DB Bakari Hollier, which was about the only resistance the Red Wolves’ would have to deal with the entire night.
The Red Wolves had three drives of 80 yards or more. The Tigers’ secondary, which was exposed last week by Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf, was once again gashed.
With 13:30 left in the second quarter, Aplin connected on a 71-yard pass to a wide open Josh Jarboe, who had seven receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
“I think we’ve got to step up and compete,” said U of M safety Akeem Davis, who logged a career high 11 tackles Saturday. “Whatever the game plan was, we worked on it all week. (We), as players, gotta step up and compete.”
For the Tigers, the loss Saturday was their largest to Arkansas State since the series began in 1915. The score was 30-3 at halftime.
The Red Wolves’ played the majority of the second half with their second- and third-stringers.
“We’ve got a lot of talent,” senior wide receiver Tannar Rehrer said. “We truly do. I’ll stick behind that and I’ll stick behind my guys. We’ve just got to put it together some way or somehow.”
Freeze, the former Briarcrest (Memphis, Tenn.) coach who interviewed for the Memphis job opening in 2010, said it was hard for him to keep his emotions at bay during the game.
“I just tried to remind myself every day that it’s one game on a 12 game schedule and it’s an opportunity for us to get a home win,” Freeze said.
In his first collegiate start, true freshman quarterback Taylor Reed led the Tigers to a puny 169 yards of total offense. The Tigers (0-2) gained just three yards in the entire third quarter.
“I thought Taylor was under duress the whole game,” Porter said. “They were bumping on receivers at times. I don’t think we gave him a chance to get going and get settled in the game.”
In the Tigers’ first two games this season, they’ve given up an average of 53 points. Saturday‘s loss marks the 11th straight for the Tigers, dating back to September of 2010.
“I’m more disappointed than anything, because I feel like we’re not giving our kids a chance in certain situations,” Porter said. “They deserve more.”