U of M football notebook: Practice No. 1

In the University of Memphis's first official preseason practice, Memphis coach Larry Porter had good things to say about his running backs. The rest of the offense? Not so much.


Larry Porter liked more of what he saw Friday defensively. The offense was still getting its bearings, especially since there's currently a quarterback competition going on between Andy Summerlin, Skylar Jones, and Taylor Reed.

"I think we're more in synch of what we're doing, and that's to be expected," Porter said. "Same scheme, same coaches, more rhythm out there, whereas offensively, I didn't think we were in rhythm. Not much chemistry or continuity."

Keiwone Malone did practice, and he looked good. Malone burned defensive back Cannon Smith on a long touchdown in one of the limited reps he participated in.

If the speedy Malone can become eligible, he'll be a huge contributor for the Tigers.

In his first official college practice, Taylor Reed "looked like a freshman," Porter said.

"I talked to him and he said that he's learning, so that was a good answer when you're talking to a coach," Porter said. "The good thing about it is he's aggressive in his approach."

Just my opinion, but it sounded Friday like Porter has essentially decided on Summerlin as the opening day starter.

Porter said Skylar Jones, who is Summerlin's biggest competition, looked "new" to the system the Tigers are implementing this season.

"But he also showed some flashes of some things we want him to do," Porter said. "It's just a matter of making sure we keep him on task in terms of the package that we have for him."

Porter spoke glowingly about running back Jerrell Rhodes and the entire Tigers' backfield.

"Artaves (Gibson) is moving a little better than I thought he was, Joe (Price) is very explosive and eager. Carl Harris is a steady guy in terms of learning and trying to get things down pact."

Porter said Rhodes added 100 pounds to his squat lift and 40 to his bench press.

"He's bigger, faster, stronger," Porter said. "He's feeling good. In his mind, he says he's 4.3 (speed) but I don't know whose clock he's looking at.

"He's looking better. His whole mindset and body language and demeanor has dramatically improved."

The Tigers' first preseason practice was met with a brief thunderstorm, but Porter and his team aren't worried about any bad omens.

"When I first walked in the meeting room, the first thing I told the guys was, ‘Let me just clear your mind, we're going to practice whether it's raining or not, so get your mind right.' We can't allow the elements to dictate what we're doing," Porter said. "That's just part of our mindset as we enter camp."

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