Memphis, Arkansas State look to build on opening victories

Field Level Media

September 08, 2021 at 6:24 pm.

Memphis again will turn to freshman quarterback Seth Henigan when it visits Arkansas State in a nonconference game on Saturday in Jonesboro, Ark.

Henigan stood out in his debut during a season-opening 42-17 win for Memphis (1-0, 0-0 American) over Nicholls State last Saturday, as he went 19-of-32 passing for 265 yards and a touchdown and led the Tigers on nine scoring drives without a punt. Henigan started in place of Grant Gunnell, who was out with a lower body injury and will be sidelined for the “foreseeable future,” according to Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield.

“He’s so calm, cool and collected — that’s just his nature,” Silverfield told reporters of Henigan. “He’s capable and just seeing him out there he’s never too high or never too low.”

The loss of Gunnell, who threw for 625 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions for Arizona last season before transferring to Memphis this past December, thrust Henigan into the starting lineup just days before facing the Colonels.

The Tigers defeated the Red Wolves, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, 37-24 last season in Memphis. Arkansas State led 14-7 early in the second quarter before Memphis scored 30 of the next 33 points to put the game away.

Arkansas State (1-0) will be playing its second game under new head coach Butch Jones, the former coach at Tennessee. Against Central Arkansas on Saturday, the Red Wolves got off to a slow start before outscoring the Bears 34-14 in the second half en route to a 40-21 win.

The Red Wolves implemented a two-quarterback system that featured James Blackman and Layne Hatcher. Blackman, a transfer from Florida State, went 16-for-26 passing for 169 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions before exiting late in the third quarter. Hatcher came in and completed all 12 of his passing attempts and finished with 150 yards and four touchdowns.

Receiver Corey Rucker had nine catches for 138 yards and three touchdowns, and Alan Lamar rushed for 67 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

“We talked about the DNA of our football team and the ability to persevere,” Jones said. “We definitely didn’t play winning football and have a lot to learn from, but we came out in the second half and finally played complementary football. I said I’d learn a lot about this team tonight, and we have a lot of things to work on to get better. We know, with the schedule coming up, that we have to get better in a hurry.”

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