U of M's early lead fails to hold in West coaching debut.

Memo to new University of Memphis football coach Tommy West: When the University of Memphis Tigers and Mississippi State Bulldogs knock heads at the beginning of the season, don’t expect poetry. Expect war. In the middle of newly renovated Scott Field an observer can’t tell if all that racket is the mighty sound of the Bullies’ Hells Bells (cow bells ringing incessantly and violently) or if its something more humdrum, like a night-time shelling raid from the RAF. Of course, as the final score of 30-10 attests, it was the Tigers who took the brunt of the onslaught. Though West witnessed last year’s loss to the Bullies at Memphis’ Liberty Bowl as defensive coordinator, this marked his premier as Memphis head coach. The coach promised a new attitude, a new offense, a new way to win. All the Tigers actually gave was the same old, same old. Despite leading the Tigers into the second half and through most of the third quarter with the same gutsy defensive effort, West watched helplessly as his team fell apart repeatedly under Bulldog pressure. The Tigers built a 10-0 lead on the strength of a second quarter Ryan White FG and then again in the third quarter when State receiver Justin Jenkins caught the ball at the Memphis 7 yard line only to fumble it to Tiger defensive back Glenn Sumter, who ran it back 73 yards to the MSU 20 yard line. The Tigers then capitalized on the runback when QB Travis Anglin tossed an 18 yard TD pass to Memphis receiver Bunkie Perkins. The 10-0 Tiger lead melted as MSU racked up back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter as Bulldog QB Wayne Madkin threw a 51 yard touchdown pass to receiver Dicenzio Miller at 4:34 left in the third quarter and then as Bullies defensive end Nathan Jackson ran in a blocked punt six yards for another State score. State then came back again with yet another touchdown as running back Dicenzio Miller ran the ball in 6 yards with 10:18 left in the fourth quarter to extend the lead 21-10. Just a few minutes later with 8:32 left in the quarter, MSU struck again, as Madkin hit a touchdown pass to receiver Scott Vogel, making the score 27-10 after the Bulldogss failed their PAT. The final report from the Mississippi State offense came from kicker John Michael Marlin on a 24 yard kick to put the Bulldogls up for good, 30-10. The overall MSU performance was marred by losing two fumbles in the first half and racking up a forgettable 8 penalties for 91 yards. Overall, Madkin threw 21 times for 12 completions, 2 touchdowns, and 174 yards. Bullies’ running back Donate Walker ran the ball 15 times for 68 yards and back Dicenzio Walker ran the ball 12 times for 108 yards and 1 touchdown. On the other side of the ball, the Tigers showed off no less than three Tiger QBs to little success in the air as Anglin threw 7 passes for 6 completions and 56 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 interceptions, red shirt freshman Danny Wimprine threw 1 pass for 3 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions, and Junior Neil Suber tossed 6 passes for 3 completions, 17 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. This is all despite a new “spread” Tiger offense whose focus is high production and multiple passing plays. The Tigers fared little better on the ground as running back ran Dante Brown ran 13 times for 43 yards and 0 touchdowns, Anglin ran 16 times for 36 yards and 0 touchdowns, back Sugar Sanders ran only 2 times for 8 yards and no touchdowns, and as back Aaron Meadows ran 6 times for 12 yards and 0 touchdowns. The Tigers play their next game Saturday, September 8, at home against UT, Chattanooga at home in the Liberty Bowl. With any Tiger luck, they will be on the opposite end of the shelling this time next week.

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