Lack of consistency turned what could have been an excellent season into a merely a good season, still there have never been too many good seasons for the Memphis Tigers over the years. The consistency issue rears it's ugly head in losses to Mississippi State and UAB, teams that the Tigers SHOULD have beaten. If they lick the consistency problem they have a legitimate shot at the conference title and a home stand in the Liberty Bowl.
The disappointments of an inconsistency laced season aside, the importance of the New Orleans Bowl win over North Texas to the Tiger program should not be minimized. First, it was only their third bowl appearance in history, the others being in the Pasadena Bowl in 1971. Their first bowl appearance was in the Burley Bowl against East Tennessee State in 1956. The 8-4 record was the first season with 7 or more wins since 1976. So, bittersweet as it may have been, it was a very memorable season for the Tigers.
May be even stronger with an effective quarterback in Wimprine and a terrific running back in DeAngelo Williams. This is a well-coached multi-dimensional group that will be hard to stop. Backup running back Derron Parquet was extremely effective but he became involved in off-season problems and his status for the season could be in jeopardy. The spread offense notwithstanding, Memphis is still a run oriented offense. Look at the size of the receivers, this is a team that has convertd to the large size receiver, and bigger receivers contribute to the running game by being able to sustain blocks longer.
Starter Danny Wimprine, who attended John Curtis Christian School in River Ridge and who threw for over 3,000 yards last year, is an experienced, productive, mature quarterback. Wimprine's effectiveness throwing the ball makes it difficult for defenses to load up against the Tigers running game.
Danny Wimprine 6-1 222 RSr.-
5th year senior has been very productive but has to make better decisions and not turn the ball over so much. Bad decisions have led to interceptions. Threw 13 interceptions in 2003, not an exhorbitant number but it's tough on a gambling defense and the Tigers were minus 4 in turnovers last season. Consider for a moment that Wimprine works behind one of the better o'lines in the nation. He was only sacked 12 times in 2003 and defenses were credited with only 5 hurries for the season. Hs played in 34 games in his career, starting 30. Career passing stats are 583-1070 for 7,323 and 59 touchdowns. Has heaved 35 interceptions in his career. Has also seen action as a punter in pooch punting situations.
Bobby Robison 6-3 213 Sr.-
Senior is an ex-JUCO transfer who played in five games last season. Was in school in the spring of 2003 and participated in spring practice. Had a good spring. Was 11-21 passing for 130 yards in 2003. Has 222 career carries for 307 yards and 9 touchdowns. Has 4 career pass receptions and 1 career touchdown catching the ball. Punted the ball 14 times last year.
Patrick Byrne 6-1 211 RSo.-
Redshirt sophomore who comes out of spring as the third string quarterback, number one kickoff man and as the backup punter. Reportedly had a good spring in his quarterback role.
One offensive possibility would be for Williams and Parquet to be used in the backfield at the same time, making it difficult for the defense to key on a single tunning threat.
DeAngelo Williams 5-10 217 Jr.-
Junior is C-USA's preseason offensive player of the year. Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year in 2003 despite missing regular season finale and bowl game with a torn MCL. Was also named to the 2003 All-Conference USA Team (1st team) as a tailback. Is a candidate for the Doak Walker Award in 2003. Was the national leader in all-purpose yardage and finished fifth in yards rushing in 2003. A dual threat, as he was named to the COSIDA Academic All America team after last season. Set the school record for rushing yards in a season despite not playing the final two games of the season. Career rushing stats are impressive with 346 carries for 2114 yards, a 6.1 yard per carry average and 15 career touchdowns. Has played in 21 games and started 12. Has both good strength and quickness. Has returned 31 kickoffs in his career for 719 yards, a 23.2 yards per return, with a long return of 48 yards. Has made 35 career receptions for 384 yards and 3 touchdowns. Derron Parquet 5-11 219 RSr.-
Archbishop Rummel alum, whose offseason problems cloud his availability. A transfer from LSU in January of 2002 and participated in spring drills. Sat out the 2002 season after transferring. Played in 11 games last season, starting 2; had 95 carries for 487 yards and a 5.1 per carry average. Played briefly at LSU early in 2000 but was injured and receioved a medical redshirt. Played some in the 2001 season but left the LSU team at the end of that semester to transfer. LSU career stats were 15 rushing attempts for 59 yards. Has excellent speed to the corner.
LaKendus Cole 5-9 189 RJr.-
Former walkon who played in 12 games in 2003 mostly as a backup tailback. Carried the load on the ground in the New Orleans Bowl when WIlliams and Parquet were both injured. Had a great spring and is expected to see action this fall as both a running back and special teams player. Strength is reported to be his great quickness. Had 70 carries in his only season, gaining 226 yards and scoring a touchdown. If Parquet can't go, the Tigers won't miss a beat running the ball. Cole played briefly but well offensively last season, carring the load on the ground in the New Orleans Bowl when Williams and Parquet were both injured.
Robert Douglas 6-3 232 RSr.- Rarely used redshirt senior fullback. Has played both linebacker and fullback in his career. Moved to fullback durng the 2003 season. Has played in 36 games in his career, starting 7. Played mostly fullback in short yardage situations last season. Has 53 career tackles as a linebacker. Carried the ball twice last seaon for 2 net yards and caught 2 passes for 8 yards.
Considered by some to be the biggest, deepest and possibly most athletically talented group in C-USA. The size is important because, spread offense notwithstanding, Memphis is stll basically a run oriented team and the bigger receivers contribute to the running game by sustaining blocks longer.
Ryan Scott 6-4 206 So.-
Made an impact as a true freshman, playing in all 13 games and starting 4. Made 15 catches for 119 yards and a touchdown. Listad as the starter at one receiver position on the preseason depth chart. Not generally considered a deep threat.
Maurice Avery 6-1 210 Jr.-
Junior converted quarterback led the team in receiving in 2003, after making the move from quarterback that spring, although he had caught 2 passes in the 2002 season. Has played in 20 games, starting 10 in his career. Has career totals of 51 catches for 755 yards and 8 touchdowns, all the touchdowns coming in 2003. ALso has 51 career carries for 174 yards and four touchdowns. Threw one pass in 2003 but was 4-9 for 32 yards as Wimprine's relief in 2002. Listed as the starter at one receiver spot on the preseason depth chart. Has also been used as a punter in pooch punting situations. Suffered a torn MCL against Louisville last season and missed the remainder of the regular season. Started his rehabilitation prior to the 2003 New Orleans Bowl, was able to return to practice the week before the game and played in the New Orleans Bowl.
Darron White 6-0 200 Sr.-
Most experienced of the Memphis receivers having played in 36 games to date in his career, starting 18. Has 111 career catches for 1,290 yards and 10 touchdowns. Carried the ball 30 times last season for 128 yards and 4 touchdowns. Was also used a the team's primary punt returner in 2022 and has seen limited action in kickoff return duty.
Chris Kelley 6-1 201 Sr.-
Ex-JUCO transfer who enrolled in January of 2003 and participated in spring practice. Played in 13 games starting two and made 11 catches for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Listed as the starter at one receiver spot on the preseason depth chart.
Tavarious Davis 6-1 198 Sr.-
5th year senior who has played in a total of 23 career games and started 7, all in 2003. Has 30 career receptions for 432 yards and 4 touchdowns. Had an impressive spring but did not secure a starting position.
Mario Pratcher 6-4 211 Jr.-
A Prop 48-type academic eligibility problem kept him out of action as a freshman and a broken collarbone caused him to miss the first 5 games of 2003. Played in 8 games last season, catching 10 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown.
Tavares Gideon 6-4 200 RSr.-
5th year senior, an ex-JUCO, attempting to return from serious knee injury. Suffered a torn ACL in conditioning work prior to 2003 season. Surgery caused him to miss the entire 2003 season. Was impressive in 2002 with 42 catches for 466 yards and 8 touchdowns. Played in all 12 games in 2002, starting 1. Has both the size and speed to create problems if he's back to where he was before the injury. Returned to practice last spring.
John Doucette 6-2 271 Jr.-
Possible future NFL prospect. Has played in 24 games in his career and made 16 starts. Career receiving stats of 22 catches for 238 yards and a touchdown.
Isaac Daniel 6-0 242 RSr.-
Redshirt senior plays in two tight end sets, converted from linebacker after the 2002 season. Primarily a blocker. Played in 13 games in 2003, started 3 and made 1 catch for 14 yards.
Unit features five returning offensive line starters but has to overcome size issues. Was very productive last season, with running game averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Did just as well in pass protection as in blocking for the running game, only allowing 12 sacks and FIVE hurries for the season. There's a great deal of experienced depth and a whole platoon of younger linemen. This unit is a good bet to be one of the top o'line units in the country, not just in C-USA.
OT David Davis 6-4 284 RSr.-
Ex-JUCO who redshirted after transferring and is now a 5th year senior. Established as the starter at right tackle. Played in all 13 games last year and started 9, mostly at tackle. Has worked at guard but is settled in as the starter at left tackle.
OT Jeremy Rone 6-3 272 RSr.-
Underdesized 5th year senior, depends on quickness. Has played in 20 games in his career and and has made 13 starts, all in 2003. Named Third Team 2003 All Conference USA. OG Jason Matthews 6-4 295 Sr.-
JUCO transfer who stepped in as the starter at right guard in spring and has held onto the position ever since. Was held out of practice this spring due to a stress fracture in his foot but is expected to be ready in the fall
OG Andrew Handy 6-2 291. Sr.-
Senior is the most experienced of the Tiger linemen. Will be a three-year starter at offensive guard. Played briefly as a true freshman in 2001. Started 10 games last season before breaking a leg and missing the rest of his senior. Has played in 23 games in his career and started 19. Has left guard job locked down.
C Gene Frederic 6-4 288 Sr.-
Senior who has been nominated a 2004 Rimington Award candidate. Was named to the 2003 All Conference USA Third Team. Also was the deep snapper for the first 23 games of his career. Has made 13 career starts as an offensive lineman. Has also worked at offensive tackle.
Blake Butler 6-3 296 RSo.-
Redshirt sophomore who was pressed into service as a starter after the injury to Andrew Handy and started three games at left guard last season. Considered the most impressive of the Tigers' young offensive linemen.
Bobby Garafalo 6-3 289 RJr.-
Ex-JUCO transfer is classed as a redshirt junior after redshirting at Memphis last season. Played both tackle and guard in junior college.
Jason Johnson 6-3 284 RSr.-
Redshirt senior who was starting at offensive tackle until he suffered a knee injury in the fourth game last season returned to action for the fonal four games and the New Orleans Bowl. Played in every game in 2001 and 2002 as a tight end.
The Tigers led the league and finished ninth in the country in total defense, yielding only 110 yards per game on the ground. Defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn, who runs a 3-3-5 blitzing defense, must ovecome heavy losses at linebacker, as well as the loss of two starters from the three man defensive front in order for for his defense to repeat that performance. All in all, six of the front seven depart.
Dunn's peculiar alignment essentially uses two strong safeties. But that's not all that's unusual. Dunn's concepts - uncoventional stunting, blitz-from-all-angles - have one goal, to raise havoc. And they do. A lot of havoc, as in 'Let loose the dogs of war!'
Variations of Joe Lee's defense are being adapted by schools around the country and is especially popluar in the Mountain West Conference. The object is similiar to that of the eight man front: press and force errors, and dictate to the offense the depth of their routes. By pressuring the quarterback, you force offenses to adjust to throwing only short passes and deny opposing quarterbacks the time to complete the deep pass.
Top dog Albert Means moved outside from nose tackle to a 30 (or 50) defensive end position and is expected to have a devastating effect on opposing offensive tackles.
Last season under Dunn, Memphis allowed only 3.0 yards per carry but 5 of the team's top 6 - 7 of the top 11 - tacklers have departed. Linebacker and the defensive line ae especially depleted and in order to cover all bases and attempt to replace the losses coach Tom West brought in four JUCO d'linemen and a JUCO linebacker.
Albert Means 6-4328 RSr.-
Huge. Quick. Strong. 5th year senior who has played nose tackle in the past but is expected to start at a down defensive tackle in a 30 (the old 50) front for the Tigers in 2004. Transferred to Memphis from Alabama after controvery arose involving bribes paid to Mean's high school coach who admitted taking part in a payoff scheme to send Means to Alabama.
The alleged payee was alleged to be a long time Alabama supporter whose 'support' dates back to Bear Bryant era.
Mmeans played for Memphis in 2001 but was academically ineligible in 2002. He returned in 2003 and regained his starting position. Has now played in 24 games and started 16 in his Memphis career. Played in 7 games and started three for Alabama in 2000. Made 18 tackles that season. Has had to battle weight problems throughout his career. Might have difficulty with a fast tempo offense.
LaVale Washington 6-1 265 Jr.-
Undersized junior from St. Aug who has played in 24 career games, starting 4 games last season. Will start at nose tackle but has also worked at defensive end in the past. Has recorded 47 career tackles and 2 sackes. Reportedly has a nasty streak.
David McNair 6-3 256 RSr.-
Brandon Farrar 6-4 255 RSo.-
JUCO transfer who originally signed at Ole Miss but transferred to junior college for 2003. Is considered a redshirt sophomore. Somewhat undersized but his JUCO stats indicate that he may be a quality edge rusher. Could well be the starter opposite Means by the time that September rolls around.
Shaka Hill 6-3 253 RSr.-
Converted from linebacker after 2002 season. Played in 23 games and started the final 4 games of 2002 as a linebacker, totalling 88 tackles. Played in 23 games as a defensive end, making 13 tackles. Is also a contributor on special teams.
Rubio Phillips 6-2 250-
Another JUCO transfer who could well move into the starting position opposite Means. Six sacks at JUCO last year indicates that he could be an effective edge rusher.
Marcus West 6-4 252 RJr.-
4th year junior who backs up Means at one defensive end. Means outweights him by more than 100 pounds. Played briefly in 2001 before an injury led to his getting a medical hardship redshirt. Hs played in 22 career games and has made 14 tackles.
Unit suffered heavy losses with all four original starters from 2003 departing. Overall, the defense could be much less effective, especially against the run but defensive coordinator Joe Lee Dunn runs this unpredictable, unorthodox defense, that's nearly impossible to prepare a team for. There's always been a suspicion that Dunn's unpredictable defensive calls make his linebackers more effective than their physical and football ability warrants. The achilles heel of this type of defense is that they are often caught gambling and can surrender big plays.
OLB Mike Snyder 6-2 231 So.-
Ex-John Curtis Christian School star. Saw action on both defense and special teams as a true freshman after injuries led to a shortage of linebackers. Altogether played in 7 games. Made 5 tackles last season and all came during extended playing time versus Tulane. Took over one of the starting outside linebacker jobs last spring. MLB Tim Goodwell 6-2 229 Jr.-
Junior who moved into a starting role at middle linebacker during the spring. Has played in 23 games in his career and has amassed 41 tackles in those games.
OLB Quinton McCrary 6-2 222 So.-
Sophomore played in all 13 games last season as a true freshman and made 8 tackles. Also played extensively on special teams. Listed as the starter at right outside linebacker on the preseason depth chart. Strength is exceptional quickness for a linebacker. Will be hard pressed to keep Baker out of starting lineup.
Carlton Baker 6-2 234 RJr.-
JUCO transfer who enrolled for spring. Reports indicate that he was impressive in spring workouts. Highly regarded prospect coming out of high school. Rated as high as a Top 10 prospect in Florida as a high school senior in 2000. Originally signed with Arkansas in 2000 and is reported by some to have been on the 2001 Razorback team (he apparently failed to qualify and did not enroll in 2000, however he's not listed on any 2000 or 2001 Razorback rosters that I've seen).
Baker played at Alabama State in 2002 (was described by ASA as a transfer, so he may have been enrolled at Arkansas in the fall of 2001) before enrolling in junior college at midyear of the 02-03 school year. Played at Hutchinson (Kan.) CC in 2003. Last fall Baker originally committed to North Carolina before reneging and signing with Memphis in the December-January JUCO signing period. Reportedly lifts 430# in the bench and runs a mid-4.5 50. Made 44 tackles, 1 sack and 5.5 tackles for losses for Alabama State in 2002.
Totalled 36 tackles last season at Hutchinson (Kan.) CC, adding an interception, five sacks, 14 tackles for loss and four fumble recoveries in 8 games to his tally. Listed as the backup at right outside linebacker on the preseason depth chart.
Charles Davis 6-0 225 Sr.-
5th year senior will enter August camp as the backup middle linebacker. Sat out the 2001 season under the guidelines of the NCAA's Proposition 48 and earned a 3.85 GPA that fall to become eligible. Played in four games for the Tigers in 2002 at linebacker and as a member of various special teams but was not credited with a tackle that season. Battled injuries in 2003 and did not play in a game.
Carson Hunter 5-10 231 RSo.-
Redshirt sophomore walkon who played in 8 games last season on special teams cover units. Listed on the preseason depth chart as the backup to Mike Snyder at one outside linebacker position.
Were very effective last season and returns most key players this season, but production may drop off if the d'line is unable to produce the same kind of pressure that generated 35 sacks and 60 quarterback hurries in 2003. Highly regarded true freshman Greg Hines could win significant playing time.
CB Cameron Essex 5-11 186 Sr.-
Very experienced senior corner who has played in 25 games to date in his career, stating 20 of them. Has made 111 career tackles adn 1 interception. One of the bragging points in his bio in the team media guide is: "held Tulane's Roydell Williams to just two pass receptions for the game...", a reference to Essex's efforts in the 2003 Tulane-Memphis game.
CB Tristan Thomas 6-1 178 Sr.-
Senior is an experienced reserve corner who has to step up into a starting role. Has played in 35 career games, starting 1 game. has made 49 tackles to date in that career. Athleticism attested by his high school track exploits as a sprinter, hurdler and high jumper.
S O.C. Collins 6-0 185 Jr.-
Starter at one of the twin strong safeties used in Dunn's defensive alignment. A junior who has played in 25 games and started 22 in his career. Has made 111 tackles and 4 interceptions to date. Has started at both corner and free safety in the past. Has very good speed.
S Javar Pollard 6-0 203 So.-
Sophomore who lettered as a true freshman after playing in 12 games either on special teams or as a defensive back. made 6 tackles in 2003. Took over the starting job at one of the two strong safety positions in the spring. Reportedly ran a 10.41 100 meter dash in high school.
FS Wesley Smith 6-3 194 Jr.-
Junior is the starting free safety again in 2004 after starting all 13 games in the 2003 season. Listed as a junior although he was a member of the team who practiced did not participate in a game in 2002, apparently he was a partial qualifier. Was injured and held out of spring practice. Made 98 tackles in 2003, including 4 tackles for losses and a sack. Added an interception.
Scott Vogel 6-1 193 Sr.-
Senior is a very experienced backup free safety. Has played in 36 games in his career, starting 13, all last season. Has made 160 tackles and 5 interceptions as a Memphis Tiger.
Senior is an experienced reserve having seen action in 34 games and made 24 tackles. Used both on special teams and as a defensive back. Listed as a backup cornerback on the preseason depth chart.
Sam Brewer 6-1 194 RSo.-
Redshirt sophomore who lettered last season after playing in all 13 games, mainly on special teams but also saw some limited action in the secondary. Made 18 tackles on the season, blocked a punt and recovered a fumble.
Greg Hinds 6-1 220 Fr.-
Incoming freshman who was a highly sought after recruit. Could make a serious bid for playing time at one of the secondary positions.
Not very good in 2003 and the result was a new special teams coach.
A mixed area for the Tigers at all last season as departed Carl Hoppe averaged 7.8 yards per return on 27 punt returns and DeAngelo Williams brought only 13 kickoffs back, averaging 23 yards per return. The second kickoff return man, Chris Kelly, averaged only 18.8 on 12 returns.
Not a good area as the Tigers special teams allowed 25 yards per kickoff return and THREE kicks returned for touchdowns. That's on 52 kickoffs. Opponents averaged 9.7 per punt return and scored another touchdown. Memphis' net punting average of only 33.4 reflects the weak cover unit. All-in-all this is weak special teams work.
Stephen Gostkowski - Junior handled all of the field goal and PAT duties in 2003. Made 28 of 43 field goals in his two season career (19 of 29 in 2003) and is 76 of 81 converting extra points. Was perfect inside of the 30 last season (12 of 12) but only 7 of 17 from the 30 out. Had a field goal blocked last season.
Patrick Byrne - Third string quarterback who also handles the team's kick off duties.
To compound special teams woes, Memphis had two punts blocked in 2003. I can't explain the high number of pooch punts over the past two seasons except to wonder how bad the coverage really is.
Brandon Roberson - Ex-JUCO transfer, now a senior. Handled most of the punting duties in 2003. Averaged 39.5 on 50 punts, with a long punt of 54 yards. palced 7 kicks inside the 20, including a punt against Tulane which rolled out of bounds at the one.
Danny Wimprine - Starting quarterback punted 14 times last season, mostly in pooch punting situations.
Maurice Avery - Wide receiver who converted from quarterback and who has also been used in pooch punting situations. Pooch punted 8 times in 2002.
Versatile Patrick Byrne is another backup punter.
DeAngelo Williams - Brought back 13 returns last season for a 23 yard per return average. Has averaged a fine 23.2 yards per return on 31 returns during his career.
Chris Kelley - Returns as the number two kick off return man after averaging 18.8 yards per return based on 12 returns.
Chris Kelley - Preseason depth chart puts the finger on the senior as the new punt returner.
Darron White - Averaged 8.4 yards per return on 36 returns in 2002. Could get the job back.
Given the probable falloff of the defense, if special teams is about the same, the Tigers could be in real trouble.