CoogFans' Memphis update

Perhaps the best thing Memphis has going for them right now is that they are coming off of a bye week.

Memphis Tigers
Conference USA

2010 Record: (1-6, 0-4)
2009 Record: (2-10, 1-7)
2009 Bowl: none
Coach: Larry Porter (1-6 at Memphis, 1-6 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Eric Price
Defensive Coordinator: Jay Hopson

Current Leaders
Rushing: Jerrell Rhodes, RB, 357 yards
Passing: Ryan Williams, QB, 1,126 yards
Receiving: Marucs Rucker, WR, 347 yards
Tackles: Jamon Hughes, LB, 86
Sacks: Dasmine Cathey, DE, 3.0
Interceptions: Mohammed Seisay, CB, 2; Todd Washington, CB, 2

Other Key Players: S Marcus Ball, S Darius Davis, LB DeRon Furr, CB D.A. Griffin, DT Corey Jones, OT Ronald Leary, G Joel McCleod, WR Jermaine McKenzie, DT Dontari Poe, RB Gregory Ray, G Dominik Riley, DE Frank Trotter, OT Tommy Walker

Memphis nearly beat UTEP at the end of September, but fell short on a late field goal. That would have put the Tigers at 2-2. Instead, they were 1-3 and followed up the disappointing loss with three blowout defeats against Tulsa, Louisville and Southern Miss. Youth and injuries have led to a lot of lineup changes over the first seven games of the season and Coach Larry Porter is already feeling the heat. By now Memphis should have things figured out a little more than they did in September, but this is simply a young team that needs to stay healthy so the coaching staff can help the young players learn their roles on the team.

Strengths:
Perhaps the best thing Memphis has going for them right now is that they are coming off of a bye week. They needed the time off to heal up, which they have done for the most part, and to sort out their problems on both sides of the ball. That may not help them come close to beating Houston or Tennessee in their next two games, but it cannot hurt. Freshman quarterback Ryan Williams is settling in under center. His numbers are not impressive by any means, but he has thrown more touchdowns than interceptions, so all is not bad. The ground game has struggled even with a pretty talented offensive line, although the injuries at center have made the whole offense look quite bad at times. Freshman Jerrell Rhodes and senior Gregory Ray both average a mere 3.8 yards per carry and have combined for just three touchdowns. Sophomore Marcus Rucker is easily the best receiving option on the team and has four scores on the year. The obvious theme throughout the offense is youth. Williams, Rhodes and Rucker will be around for a while and they are still learning. The week off will help them refocus heading into the Houston contest, but they still have a long, long way to go before they are going to beat a team as good as Houston.

Weaknesses:
At times it seems like Jamon Hughes is taking on 11 players all by himself. The senior middle linebacker has a total of 86 tackles through seven games and has led or shared the lead in that category every game this season. The next highest tackle total belongs to safety Marcus Ball at 48. The real problem is not necessarily youth on defense, although this is a young defense outside of Hughes. The problem is consistency and 21 players have started at least one game on defense. Since a majority of those players are underclassmen who are also trying to fit into the new defensive scheme, there is no semblance of order. There is some talent out there like tackle Frank Trotter and end Dasmine Cathey, who do a decent job creating pressure on the opposing quarterback. The secondary is full of young players who are doing their best to find their place on the team, but they will consistently get beat by those teams in Conference USA who love to throw the ball.

. The Bottom Line:
With the winnable games left on the schedule away from the friendly confines of the Liberty Bowl, Memphis may go the rest of the 2010 season without a victory. However, the team does not have to win to improve. This is a team and a staff that will lose, but how they respond to those losses is more important to this young group than actually winning games. The Tigers are not going to win out and reach a bowl game, so the small victories are the ones the fans and the team should be looking for. The Tigers have the young talent to be dangerous at the end of the year and they can certainly go to Marshall or UAB and pull off an upset, but they will almost certainly be coming off a couple bad defeats at the hands of Houston and Tennessee first.

2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 89.00 (113th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 182.00 (86, 11)
Total Offense: 271.00 (115, 12)
Scoring Offense: 13.86 (116, 12)
Rushing Defense: 187.57 (96, 11)
Pass Defense: 259.86 (107, 9)
Total Defense: 447.43 (111, 12)
Scoring Defense: 39.43 (115, 12)
Turnover Margin: -1.14 (112, 11)
Sacks: 1.29 (97, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 3.00 (105, 12)

2010 Results:
September 4th at Mississippi State: 7-49
September 11th at East Carolina: 27-49
September 18th vs. Middle Tennessee: 24-17
September 25th at UTEP: 13-16
October 2nd vs. Tulsa: 7-48
October 9th at Louisville: 0-56
October 16th vs. Southern Miss: 19-41


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