Memphis offense

Alabama has Julio Jones and Georgia has A.J. Green. Still, the toughest challenge Tennessee's secondary faces this season may come Nov. 7 against Memphis. Honest.

Senior wideout Carlos Singleton (6-8, 220 pounds) needs just 23 catches and 266 receiving yards to pass the Tigers' career leader in each category. Still, he is unlikely to be the school record-holder at season's end. That's because fellow senior Duke Calhoun (6-4, 200) needs just four catches and 66 receiving yards to pass the Tigers' career leader in each category.

In other words, Calhoun and Singleton project to rank 1-2 on Memphis' all-time receiving list by December. Singleton, who caught 52 pases for 791 yards last fall, already shares the school record for career TD receptions with 19. Calhoun, who caught 40 balls for 487 yards last season, already ranks No. 2 on the Tigers' career receiving list (2,058 yards) with a full season of eligibility remaining.

Now Memphis just needs to settle on someone to throw them the football.

The clubhouse leader is Arkelon Hall, who passed for 2,276 yards and 12 touchdowns as an 11-game starter in 2008. But Brett Toney, who got two starts while Hall was hurt, distinguished himself with 338 yards and three TD passes last fall. Also in the mix are Georgia Tech transfer Byron Ingram, who sat out 2008, and heralded signee Will Gilchrist.

Whoever wins the QB battle will have a proven tailback at his disposal. Junior college transfer Curtis Steele rushed for 1,223 yards and seven touchdowns as a Tiger junior last fall, averaging 5.6 yards per carry en route to being named Conference USA Newcomer of the Year. Pushing him for carries are Arkansas transfer Darcel Johnson and Wisconsin transfer Lance Smith.

Memphis averaged 417.2 total yards per game last season and converted a whopping 46.4 percent of its third-down opportunities, ranking No. 20 nationally in that category. Given the glut of skill-position talent available, the 2009 Tigers would project to be even more potent this fall except for one thing: Four of the five starters in last fall's offensive line are missing.

Dominik Riley is the lone returnee from the '08 line, and he's moving from guard to center. Among the candidates to fill the four line vacancies are Tennessee transfer Malcom Rawls.

Bottom line: Memphis has a lot of weapons but they'll be wasted unless head coach Tommy West can quickly assemble a dependable blocking front.


Inside Tennessee Top Stories