Monday, April 11, 2011

Memphis Tigers 2010 Review

2010 Record: 1-11 (0-8), 6th Conference USA East
2010 Bowl Game: None
2010 Schedule/Results: @ Mississippi State, L 49-7; @ East Carolina, L 49-27; Middle Tennessee, W 24-17; @ UTEP, L 16-13; Tulsa, L 48-7; @ Louisville, L 56-0; Southern Miss, L 41-19; Houston, L 56-17; Tennessee, L 50-14; @ Marshall, L 28-13; @ UAB, L 31-15; UCF, L 37-17


     It's pretty hard to slam the Memphis program any harder than it's already been. Tommy West has finally departed, and that was after a term in which the Tigers were nothing better than barely passable as a football program. Memphis has been begging for Big East membership, but it's never going to happen until they can actually prove that they can build something of a respectable program in the Liberty Bowl, something that has never been a sustained effort in my 30 years of watching college football. In other words, Memphis has sucked for a very long time.
     The Memphis QB situation was barely situated on any level in 2010. Ryan Williams wound up as the starter as a freshman, and the inexperience was a mess on the field. Williams passed for 2075 yards, a very low number for a 12 game schedule, and he passed for 13 TDs, but also tossed 10 picks while completing a low ball 56.9% of his passes. The Tigers had a major quandry at the position, as Williams was not the favored QB coming into the season. That was supposed to be Cannon Smith, but he was a mess as a sophomore, and he had troubles staying out of trouble off of the field. Williams will likely be the starter in 2011.
     Memphis really had no real running game to speak of last season. As a team, the Tigers only rushed for 91.58 yards per game on the year, while giving up 172.92 per game. With a total like that, you can see that sucess was basically unattainable. Gregory Ray, a senior, led the team with 676 yards and 3 TDs. The Tigers rushed for an abominable 5 TDs all season. Not good. Jerrell Rhodes, a freshman in 2010 who rushed for 469 yards, should get first crack at the job in 2011. After him, there's nothing.
     Four receivers caught 20 or more passes, and the good news is that all four return next fall. Marcus Rucker was the best of the bunch, with a line of 41-704-8. Rucker will be a junior in 2011. Jermaine McKenzie (25-409-3), Tanner Rehrer (23-284-0), and Curtis Johnson (22-230-0) will all come back to give Williams, as we are assuming there, a decent haul of experienced receivers who can get after the football. The major problem is that two of these receivers did not score at all in 2010. That is a huge concern.
     The Memphis defense was like running through paper walls. It was hardly there. The Tigers gave up 460.7 yards per game on the season, and gave up 61 TDs. In contrast, the offense only scored 19 TDs all season.
     Say what you will, but you can't blame much on senior LB Jaymon Hughes, who racked up 147 tackles in 2010. Hughes averaged 12.25 tackles per game on the year, and he will be missed next fall for certain. Frank Trotter will be the leading returning tackler next fall. The lineman piled up 79 tackles, a truly strong number for a D lineman on any level. Marcus Bell, a senior DB, was third with 66 tackles, while DeRon Furr was the only other Tiger that finished with an average of 5 tackles or more per game.
     Trotter was actually quite strong when attacking the backfield, as he led the team with 16.5 TFLs on the season. He was the only Tiger defender in double figures, but Terrence Thomas was close with 8.5. The top 5 TFL producers all return for new coach Larry Porter in the fall. The sacks, on the otherhand, were negligible. Nobody had more than 3 on the season, and Memphis only collected 14 all season, while giving up 37.
      The secondary was a disgrace last fall. It's pretty much that simple. No DB on the team had more than 5 passes defended (senior DA Griffin). They were sitting ducks in a shooting gallery. Even worse, nobody picked off more than 2 passes all season long. The Tigers as a team picked 8 passes. Again, not getting it done, and a prime focus for why the Tigers were 1-11.
     Paulo Henriques was actually not too bad in 2010. Henriques hit 14 of his 18 FG attempts last fall, and gave the Tigers a chance whenever they got him close enough to score. He may have been the only player on the team that could say that without busting a hernia from laughter. Tom Hornsey was actually quite solid as well as a sophomore when it came to punting the ball. He averaged 42.7 yards per punt and was used a shocking 80 times in 2010. Shockingly, his leg did not fall off in December.


So Larry Porter, a former LSU recruiting coordinator and RB coach is the latest coach to take a trip into the football graveyard that is the Memphis Tigers. It has not been a good journey for anyone else who has partaken into the depths in the last four decades, so good luck with that. Memphis is a doormat, and it's going to take a whole bunch of time, and even a portion of the support that the basketball program gets to make it right. Good luck with that.

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