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Memphis Tigers Preview

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on August 2, 2007

This is the first of a series of college football previews for the 2007-08 season that will run during the month of August here on “The Nasty Boys’ Sports Blog”.

Since I won’t be leaving for Jackson, Mississippi until Friday afternoon, I figured that I could get the ball rolling on the preview for this upcoming football season by previewing the Memphis Tigers.

Many of us here in Memphis knew for a fact that the Tigers weren’t going to be shit without the greatest Tiger football player of all time, DeAngelo Williams, in the backfield when the 2006 season began. The honor of replacing Williams in the backfield would go to an old classmate of mine, Joseph Doss, who played the role of Williams’ understudy during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. He became one of the best rushers in school history rushing for 910 yards on 224 carries, the fourth-highest rushing total for a season in school history, last year for a team that finished 2-10, the worst record for a Tiger team in over 20 years. Expect more of the same from Doss this year as he enters his final year of eligibilty.

For the first time since Danny Wimprime left in 2004, the Tigers will enter the season with an incumbent starter at quarterback in senior Martin Hankins, who threw for 2,550 yards and 18 touchdowns, good enough for a 59.9 completion rate. Hankins’ return is music to new offensive coordinator Clay Helton’s ears as he enters his first season as offensive coordinator after three years as receivers coach.

The pet peeve that was the Tigers in 2006 was their once-proud defensive unit, a unit that during a 5-6 season in 1999 had one of the best defensive teams in the country and thanks to former defensive guru and East Carolina Pirates head coach John Thompson, they finished 19th in total defense. Until last year, the Tigers were the standard along with Southern Mississippi in Conference USA when it came to defense,falling to the nether regions of Division I-A schools in defense, finishing 111th in yards allowed, 103rd in points allowed, and 104th in rushing defense; ungaudy numbers in the Tommy West era. With a new defensive coordinator in Rich Kravitz, who previously served as an assistant at N.C. State and South Florida, the Tigers’ defense could have a rebirth with starters Brandon Douglas, Clinton McDonald, and Greg Terrell back on the line for Memphis.

There should be no excuse for the Tigers to not improve on their 2-10 record from last year as they have for the first time since the days of Danny Wimprime, a healthy incumbent quarterback in Hankins, plus a reliable running back in Doss anchoring the offense, as well as a new defensive coordinator that can restore the glory of the Tigers’ defensive unit.

What will not happen is the Tigers going winless in league play at the Liberty Bowl like they did last year. The Tigers get Marshall, East Carolina, UAB, and SMU at home this year ,plus a critical showdown with an improved Ole Miss team on September 1st, a game that could set the course for the rest of the season.

Final verdict: As I said in my preview, the Tigers should be able to improve on their record this year and make some noise in conference play. With games against cupcakes Jacksonville State and a revenge game on the road at Arkansas State, the Tigers could be 2-1 entering their first conference game at Central Florida on September 22nd should they keep their noses clean.

Projected record: 4-7 (3-5 C-USA)

2007 Memphis Tigers Schedule:

Sept. 1st Ole Miss

Sept. 8th @ Arkansas State

Sept. 15th Jacksonville State

Sept. 22nd @ Central Florida

Oct. 2nd Marshall

Oct. 13 Middle Tennessee

Oct. 20 @ Rice

Oct. 27th @ Tulane

Nov. 3rd East Carolina

Nov. 10th @ Southern Miss

Nov. 17th UAB

Nov. 24th Southern Methodist

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