No. 25 Memphis bids to shake off rust vs. SMU

It might be unprecedented to have nearly a full month off between games, but that is the situation facing No. 25 Memphis on Saturday as it visits SMU in an American Athletic Conference game in Dallas.The Tigers (1-0, 0-0 AAC) haven’t played since their season-opening 37-24 win over Arkansas State on Sept. 5 due to COVID-19 cases that caused the program to pause activities and cancel games against Houston and UTSA.Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield said that “a majority” of his team is back and he is confident the players are in a good spot to play.”We feel like we are getting back where we need to be,” he said. “Still not at full strength, nor will we be at kickoff. But we are getting to where we need to be to where we feel comfortable having normal practices.”Such a long layoff leads to obvious questions as to how rusty and conditioned Memphis will be, and Silverfield admitted the team will have to rotate more players in and out in all three phases of the game.As for the rust element, Silverfield feels there is a good solution.”We have to be fundamentally sound,” he said. “That’s how you try and knock the rust off.”SMU coach Sonny Dykes told MustangVision that it will be hard to get a read on Memphis given its layoff, but he pointed out that the Tigers have won a lot of games over the last three years and that they will be ready to play.”They may not have played for a while, but those guys have a lot of skins on the wall,” Dykes said. “They have won a lot of football games.”