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Memphis Preview

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This is the first in a weekly series of pre-game analysis brought to you by the good people at Red Solo Cup. I won't pretend to know everything about every team we play, but I'll do my research and probably just guess about things for which I can find no information (see Samford football). So anyway, here goes nuthin'.

Offense:

Let's start with the position that has been "hashed" more often than Lindsey Lohan. Quarterback. Arkelon (pronounced insert stupid Keith Woernle joke here Arky-lon) Hall was a highly touted junior college quarterback from College of Sequoias out in California. Out of high school, he signed with a BCS conference school as a scrambling quarterback. He ended up leaving that program and making it to College of Seqouias where he did relatively well. Now that he is at his third school in three years, practice reports have him underperforming even though the coaches talk him up every chance they get. Hm... similarities abound. But honestly, let's compare him with the Honorable Brentis Schaeffer.

Schaeffer's rating out of high school: 4 stars, #14 QB
Hall's rating out of high school: 4 stars, #16 QB
Schaeffer's measurements (according to Scout): 6-1, 190, 4.57
Hall's measurements (according to Scout): 6-1, 210, 4.7
Schaeffer's statistics at COS: 2,970 passing yards / 42 touchdowns / 8 interceptions. 860 rushing yards / 10 TDs
Hall's statistics at COS: 2,398 passing yards / 13 touchdowns / 14 Interceptions. 144 rushing yards / 5 TDs

It appears, to a casual observer, that Memphis has a poor man's Brent Schaeffer. I'm not exactly shaking in my boots. I don't understand why they don't just give Will Hudgens the nod. I thought he was pretty good.

At runningback, the TiGAYs (witty, huh?) have only one "proven" runningback, and he's only proven behind an offensive line at "The U" and even then only in one game (over 100 yards rushing against Virginia Tech). Surely a starter at Memphis, right? That's just it. He's not. Curtis Steele is the projected starter. Steele hasn't carried the ball once in college. I'm sure Jones is thrilled. I'm not worried about Memphis' running game based solely on our linebacking corps. Our linebackers are built to stop elusive backs in the spread. Our starting outside linebackers are converted safeties. Their speed and agility is uncommon for that of linebackers, and their coverage skills are pretty good too (see Ashlee Palmer leading the team in INTs last year). Jonathan Cornell is also noticeably faster than any linebacker (other than Palmer) that saw any time last year. I just don't see them having a problem with the Memphis running backs.

If Memphis' passing game is going to work at all, they're going to have to give it to their wide receivers close to the line of scrimmage and let those playmakers work. 6'4" Duke Calhoun and 6'8" Carlos Singleton are both very good college wide receivers. Calhoun probably has a future in the NFL. Singleton probably does not. Singleton is effective in college because he's 6'8". As for the Ole Miss secondary, I think our tallest player with any chance to see time is Cassius Vaughn, listed at 6'1". That's a good deal of height difference. Still, I find myself wondering how much it will hurt us that there is a seven inch height difference when Memphis throws bubble screens all day. Height doesn't seem to have any impact on your ability to step back and turn to the quarterback. If they do that all game again this year, I will be officially convinced that Tommy West is a bad coach. They should use their mismatch more effectively.

I don't know much about Memphis' offensive line other than the fact that it is in shambles. I count five players on their two-deep that may not be able to play on Saturday. I could be counting wrong. I was never good at higher level mathematics.

Defense:

Memphis' defensive line is nothing at which to laugh. While projected starter Tim McGee is out, Corey Mills and Jada Brown are two former rebels who have done relatively well in tigerland. Mills and Brown are the starting defensive ends on a Memphis squad that will rely heavily on getting to the passer before he can exploit their secondary. Their starting DTs are Freddie Barnett and Clinton McDonald. I hope we run right at those guys. I've never heard of either one of them, but One Man to Beat (who knows a lot about Memphis) says they're at least pretty good. As with the rest of Memphis' defense, there is no depth behind their starters on the line (other than Greg Terrell at DE, a player who may start ahead of Brown). I'm not certain they'll stack up well against our offensive line, but we underperformed at OL last season, and if we continue, Memphis could get in to the backfield.

At linebacker, Memphis has several more injuries. Like we apparently don't, Memphis didn't have depth. Then they lost a starter. It's rough at that position for them.

In the secondary, Memphis has significant trouble. Like us, they can't defend people through the air. I hope Jevan can exploit that well. We need to get the ball in the hands of Mike Wallace, Dexter, and Shay.

In closing, I expect us to beat them, though I'm sure Singleton and Calhoun will give us trouble.

My Prediction: Ole Miss by 8