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Tigers Football Insider: Kylan Watkins will be the X-factor for the Memphis offense
 
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University of Memphis running back Kylan Watkins (17) breaks a tackle from Arkansas State linebacker Fred Harvey(24) on his way to a touchdown during the Tigers' home opener at the Liberty Bowl Sept.5, 2020. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)
 

University of Memphis running back Kylan Watkins (17) breaks a tackle from Arkansas State linebacker Fred Harvey(24) on his way to a touchdown during the Tigers' home opener at the Liberty Bowl Sept.5, 2020. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian)

Welcome to the new Tigers Football Insider, where we’re bringing you the latest news and analysis from The Daily Memphian’s Steven Johnson, Geoff Calkins and Don Wade with each weekly issue. 

The Memphis Tigers are hoping for a quiet week as the program aims to get its COVID outbreak under control before resuming football activities.

There’s still plenty of chatter about whether or not there was an actual party bus at the root of the outbreak, but let’s get back to talking about the on the field action.

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The Tigers’ offense looked a little different than in years past against Arkansas State. The gashing, chunk plays were absent.

The longest plays of the night came from tight end Sean Dykes (38 yards) and defensive lineman Joseph Dorceus on a fake punt (25 yards). ASU deserves some credit for their game plan, which was clearly designed to not give up those big plays, but the Tigers also need more from their supporting cast.

The two X-factors for a more explosive offensive attack when Memphis gets back to action are Tahj Washington and Kylan Watkins.

Washington’s speed and versatility were key factors in him landing a starting spot at receiver, along with Damonte Coxie and Calvin Austin. Washington had just one catch against the Red Wolves, but there should be more chances against Texas-San Antonio.

As for Watkins, the former Whitehaven star brings value to the rushing and passing game, and he spent plenty of time lined up at receiver.

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He finished with a respectable 65 yards on 16 touches and showed some of his shiftiness later in the game. Always having a back that can hurt a defense with his rushing or catching ability has been crucial in Memphis, being one of the top offenses in the country year in and year out.

For the Tigers to maintain that lofty status in 2020 they’ll need Watkins to fill major shoes.

“He’s one of the ones we feel can play the role we’ve used a lot in the past. Whether it be a Kenny Gainwell type, an Antonio Gibson or Tony Pollard. We’ve utilized those guys in the backfield and at wide receiver. He’s got that skill set. He’s going to be a huge piece in the offense moving forward. We’re really excited about him,” Coach Ryan Silverfield said.


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Making sense of a wild weekend for Memphis football

There was a lot of less-than-good news, but there also was the No. 15 ranking in the national coaches poll.

Silverfield denies ‘party bus' involved in Memphis football COVID-19 outbreak

The Tigers coach discusses what happened; football program activities remain on hold.

Calkins: When is a party bus not a party bus? And was Ryan Silverfield right to handle this the way he did?

In a blistering statement to the media Monday, the Memphis Tigers coach denied that his players were on such a bus. His anger was understandable. His response was worrisome. 

Another one: Memphis linebacker Tim Hart opts out of season

The redshirt senior is the third known player in the Tigers’ football program to do so.

NFL kickoff: Former Memphis Tigers playing on Sunday

Several former U of M football stars shine in NFL, including Antonio Gibson, who could be the primary option out of the backfield for the Washington Football Team.

 
 
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