Thursday, August 30, 2012

C-USA picks: Week 1

Posted By on Thu, Aug 30, 2012 at 8:00 AM

The goal, of course, is to improve on last year's 76-21 mark. And it starts with 12 games this weekend.

(winner appears in bold)

THURSDAY
UCLA at Rice
UCF at Akron

C-USA_logo.JPG

SATURDAY
UT-Martin at Memphis
Appalachian State at East Carolina
Texas State at Houston
Marshall at West Virginia
Southern Miss at Nebraska
Rutgers at Tulane
Tulsa at Iowa State
Troy at UAB
Oklahoma at UTEP

SUNDAY
SMU at Baylor

Monday, August 27, 2012

2012 Memphis Tiger Football: Three Wishes

Posted By on Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 8:52 AM

Tiger Football 2012: If I Had a Genie

Football forecasts are worth the paper on which they’re printed. (Or in the case of digital media, even less.) So I’m not going to predict how well or poorly Justin Fuente’s first year as Memphis Tiger coach might go. (Three wins would mean progress. Five would be worthy of a dance party.) Instead, I’d like to offer three wishes for the 2012 Tigers, with consideration to the program’s history and an eye toward its future.

• WISH #1: 35,000 people at the Liberty Bowl this Saturday
If Memphis fans want to call themselves “Tiger Nation,” this is actually a small number. Whenever or however the U of M football program builds lasting momentum, it will start with an expanded — and permanent — fan base. Last year, an announced crowd of 33,990 showed up for the home opener against Mississippi State, too many of them adorned in maroon and white. It was the only Tiger home game for which announced attendance exceeded 20,000. In a stadium that will seat 60,000.

Meet the new boss: Justin Fuente

But wait, you say, it’s not Mississippi State or Ole Miss in town this Saturday. The Tigers are opening against UT-Martin! And this is precisely the point. Attendance at the Liberty Bowl must become a given, regardless of the opponent. And that crowd needs to be there for the home team. (If an opposing team — from the SEC or the Ohio Valley Conference — is able to draw a traveling crowd, all the better. This should not, however, be the primary variable at the gate.) For the first time in 64 years, Memphis will not play an SEC team, at home or on the road. The biggest games on the home schedule are UCF (October 20) and Southern Miss (November 24). Here’s hoping a new coach might spawn a movement in the right direction for a so-called “sleeping giant” of a fan base.

• WISH #2: Twelve starts for quarterback Jacob Karam
It’s been five years since the Tigers have suited up a signal-caller fans could consider The Guy. Since Martin Hankins tossed his last spiral in 2007, Memphis has started nine young men behind center. You remember Taylor Reed last year, and maybe Ryan Williams from the year before. How about Brett Toney? Arkelon Hall? Tyler Bass?

No team sport relies more on a single position than a football team does its quarterback. Games can be won, now and then, with a pretender in charge of the huddle, but this requires so many other positions and schemes to go right, the law of averages tends to expose the weakness. Coach Justin Fuente lured Karam to Memphis from Texas Tech by assuring the kid he’ll play and make an impact on a program that desperately needs impact from its quarterback. We know Karam is smart (undergrad degree already in hand). We know he has leadership skills (one of ten players on the team’s leadership council). Here’s hoping he has the tools and toughness to succeed where the nine most recent Tigers have failed.

• WISH #3: An all-conference defensive back
If there’s one position the Tiger program can be said to have a rich tradition in grooming, it would be defensive back. Keith Simpson, Ken Irvin, Jerome Woods, Mike McKenzie, Michael Stone, and Reggie Howard all dropped into coverage for the U of M before cashing their first NFL paycheck. But it’s been seven long years since the Tigers have fielded an All-CUSA player in their secondary (Wesley Smith). Last season, with one breakdown after another, the soft secondary stood out on a team with several weaknesses. They didn’t tackle well. They lacked the speed to close on a receiver (or running back, for that matter).

If the secondary improves this fall, if long plays are minimized, games will be more competitive. Opponents will be forced to gain first downs the old-fashioned way. The more plays a team is forced to make (meaning the fewer long-distance connections), the more chances the Tiger defense has to force turnovers, the single most game-shifting element in football.

It’s telling that four of the ten players on Fuente’s leadership council are defensive backs: seniors Akeem Davis and Cannon Smith, and sophomores Bakari Hollier and Bobby McCain. Might one of these players become a difference-maker? Here’s hoping someone — anyone — makes the Memphis secondary a scary place to venture. Then it’s up to the big guys up front.

Let’s play football.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

TTT Answer

Posted By on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Over the last four years (2008-11), nine different players have started at quarterback for the Tigers. Name them. All of them.

football_helmet.jpg

• Arkelon Hall
• Brett Toney
• Will Hudgens
• Tyler Bass
• Ryan Williams
• Cannon Smith
• Andy Summerlin
• Skylar Jones
• Taylor Reed

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tiger Trivia Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 8:00 AM

Remember when Danny Wimprine was taking snaps for the Tigers, leading Memphis in passing four straight years? Yep, 2004 seems like a long time ago.

Over the last four years (2008-11), nine different players have started at quarterback for the Tigers. Name them. All of them.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

TTT Answer

Posted By on Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 8:00 AM

The Tiger football team will play its 17th and final season as a member of Conference USA this fall. There are three other programs — currently in C-USA — that were football-playing members of the league for the inaugural season of 1996. Who are those teams, and what is the Tigers' record against each in C-USA play?

C-USA_logo.JPG

Houston (Tigers are 5-7 against the Cougars)
Southern Miss (Tigers are 5-11 against the Golden Eagles)
Tulane (Tigers are 8-3 against the Green Wave and have won the last six meetings)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tiger Trivia Tuesday

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 8:00 AM

The Tiger football team will play its 17th and final season as a member of Conference USA this fall. There are three other programs — currently in C-USA — that were football-playing members of the league for the inaugural season of 1996. Who are those teams, and what is the Tigers' record against each in C-USA play?

C-USA_logo.JPG

Thursday, August 2, 2012

TTT Answer

Posted By on Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 8:00 AM

With 25 wins in the 2012-13 season, Josh Pastner would reach the 100-win plateau as coach of the Tiger basketball team. How many coaches have won 100 games for Memphis?

Five coaches have hit the century mark for the U of M:

• Zach Curlin (173)
• Bob Vanatta (109)
• Dana Kirk (158)
• Larry Finch (220)
• John Calipari (214; 252 if you count the 38 wins vacated from the 2007-08 season)

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