The Tigers had their final practice of the spring on Thursday at the Murphy Athletic Complex. They will officially close the spring practice session on Saturday with the Blue-Gray scrimmage at the Liberty Bowl. Game time is set for 1 p.m. The scrimmage should run about two hours and there will be a short awards ceremony afterwards to honor the accomplishments of several players this spring.
It should be a great time for Tiger Nation as there will be live music from Rockasaurus Rex, inflatables for the children, as well as autographs and a pep rally before the game. The Mighty Sound of the South Band, the Tiger Spirit Squads and TOM III will all be there to help generate excitement for the hometown Tigers. All of the events, which are free and open to the public, will be held on Tiger Lane. Parking lots open at 9 a.m. Please come out and support the Tigers, who have been working so hard this spring. Fans wanting to purchase or renew season tickets will be able to do so at Gate 3 beginning at 10 a.m.
The Tiger Scholarship Fund, the U of M Alumni Association and the M Club will have tents set up for members and donors on Tiger Lane. The tents will open at 11 a.m.
Today, it was officially announced that the season opener against Mississippi State will be played on Thursday, Sept. 1, at the Liberty Bowl. The game was moved so it could be carried on national television. The network and the game time will be announced at a later date.
In other news, the Tiger Football team had 17 players listed on the C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll for maintaining a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or better, and three players posted a GPA of 3.75 or higher in the fall to earn the C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medal. It is because of all the hard work of the student-athletes as well as the efforts and continued dedication from the staff of the Center for Athletic Academic Services, which is directed by Dr. Joe Luckey. Valorie Lott and Fred Quarles are the academic counselors who work directly with the football program to ensure academic progress and excellence. Well done Tigers!
The Tigers are in the home stretch and in their final week of spring practice. This final week will be about tightening up the loose ends and giving the players a strong foundation heading into the summer. The squad practiced today on the turf field.
Coach Larry Porter continues to stress that he would like quarterbacks Andy Summerlin and Will Gilchrist to be further along than they are right now in executing the offense.
"I think they are growing, but they are not where we need them to be at all," said Porter. "There is a sense of urgency on their behalf to come out and try to do as much as they can to advance themselves. We are working to put them in position to grow.
"It's not just our quarterbacks, though," added Porter. "We need to get the timing and rhythm down with the receivers and our offensive line needs to be a solid unit in order for it to all come together. So, it's not just them, it's the inconsistencies that we are having throughout our offense that we need to improve on, which is affecting our quarterbacks."
Coach Porter also talked a bit about the format of Saturday's Blue-Gray Game, which will see the ones versus the ones and the twos versus the twos.
"We are still working to improve, but I think just being able to identify the improvement that they see within our football team will be something that our fans will enjoy Saturday. At the end of the day, we are a better football team right now than we were at any point last season."
Defensively, Coach Porter spoke highly of Dontari Poe and the defensive line as a whole.
"Not just Poe, but I think our defensive front as a whole has been solid as of late, which is probably what is causing our offense so many issues and problems, and that is a good problem to have. Most of those guys are back and we expect them to be the foundation of what we do defensively. It is all about playing together. If you look at some of the big offensive plays we gave up on Saturday, those were due to misalignments. If we don't play together, it doesn't matter who is playing well, we all suffer. And we have been playing together, especially the last two weeks, but when we have breakdowns, the offense has found a way to take advantage of it."
The Tigers will practice on Thursday before closing out the spring with the Blue-Gray Game on Saturday, April 16, at l p.m. The game will begin at approximately 1 p.m., but many of the festivities start around 11. There will be a live band, season ticket sales, inflatables for the children, a BBQ contest, autographs with the Tigers at about 11 a.m., and a pep rally at about 11:30 a.m. before the squad makes the Tiger Walk from Tiger Lane to the locker room. Parking and all events are free and open to the public. Lots open at 9 a.m., and are on a first-come, first-served basis. For a full listing of events, please CLICK HERE.
Coach Larry Porter took his team through their second major scrimmage of the spring at the Murphy Athletic Complex Saturday afternoon. The squad has three practices remaining this spring, with the final one next Saturday for the Blue-Gray Game at the Liberty Bowl.
The Tiger offense rolled through over 110 plays, with 63 of those passing plays. Andy Summerlin completed 20 of 36 pass attempts for about 225 yards and a touchdown, while Will Gilchrist completed 17 of 27 pass attempts for 252 yards and two touchdowns. Nine different receivers had receptions today with redshirt freshmen Reggie Travis (2-100-1) and Kevin Wright (5-103-1) both going for over the century mark. Travis rolled off a 94-yard touchdown, and Wright hauled in a 60-yard TD.
Also posting 50-plus yards were Curtis Johnson (6-54), Marcus Rucker (5-66), Cam Baker (4-59) and Tannar Rehrer (9-85). Eight of Rehrer's catches were during the final two periods of two-minute.
Two minute and goal line is where the defense dominated today. The defense won both sets of two minute, with a big stop coming from Lavaris Edwards, who had a pick in the endzone. Edwards also had several pass breakups in the scrimmage. The second two-minute series was halted by a sack by Martin Ifedi. On the goal line series, Zach Gholson recovered a fumble and then posted a TFL. Fred Harvey had also posted a TFL on that series. The defense also stifled the offense on redzone as the defensive line had multiple sacks on those five series. Johnnie Farms had a pair of sacks and Mitch Huelsing had a pass breakup.
The Tigers were out in full pads today on the grass fields at the Murphy Athletic Complex. The squad continues to run through various situations and Coach Larry Porter is looking forward to Saturday's scrimmage to see just how far the team has come since their last full scrimmage a week ago. Following Saturday afternoon's scrimmage, the team will have practice on Tuesday and Thursday before officially closing out the spring with the Blue-Gray Game on April 16th at the Liberty Bowl.
Following practice, Coach Porter talked about how he was pleased with the offensive execution, but that he was disappointed in the defense today.
"I was a little disappointed in our defense today," Porter said. "They didn't tackle as well as they had been tackling. Offensively, there was more execution than we have had in the previous practices, so that was good. We still have work to do. We are looking forward to finding out where we are come Saturday as far as how we have improved over the course of this week. The scrimmage this weekend is critical."
When asked about the quarterbacks, Porter explained that he feels Andy Summerlin and Will Gilchrist are both showing marked improvement through the course of the spring.
"Over the past two practices, in terms of the decision making and the managing of the offense, I am encouraged by what I am seeing from Andy in his growth," explained Porter. "Will is starting to make some good decisions as well. All in all, I can say that they are improved at this point. Particularly today, the quarterbacks got us in and out of some plays that could have been bad. That's what they are there for."
Coach Porter also spoke about how much redshirt freshman Al Bond has come along during the spring at center. Bond has taken a majority of snaps with the offensive line and there was one factor that Porter hinted at that would certainly make Bond better - going up against defensive lineman Dontari Poe every day.
"Al Bond gets to practice against Poe every day, and while it has caused the offense to struggle, in the long run, we will be better because of it. He won't line up against a 6-4, 340-pound man every game. Al has grown considerably from where he started."
The price has been lowered and the deadline extended to get the Memphis Tigers a custom cover on the Athlon Sports College Football Preseason magazine.
The price has been dropped to $5.99 (+$2.99 S&H). We need 1,000 orders by April 15th. When we hit 1,000 orders, the Tigers will have a custom cover, and U of M Athletics will also receive $1 per magazine ordered from Athlon Sports as a donation to the Tiger Scholarship Fund. Help support the Tigers!
The Tigers have just two weeks left of spring ball and are continuing to work on being more consistent. The squad spent more time on situational work today such as third down and redzone defense, which Coach Larry Porter said his defense needed to get better at following the scrimmage last Saturday.
Andy Summerlin and Will Gilchrist continue to push each other at quarterback and both made some solid throws today. They certainly have plenty of targets to throw to. The receiving corps has a good bit of depth this year with veterans such as Marcus Rucker, Curtis Johnson, Cam Baker, Tannar Rehrer and Billy Foster, who all made plays last season. In addition, redshirt freshmen Reggie Travis and Kevin Wright as well as spring newcomer Jamere Valentine are all showing play-maker ability. Wright made a couple of nice catches in last week's scrimmage, and Valentine has shown that he can do some damage both on the ground and through the air.
The Tigers will practice again on Thursday, and are expected to scrimmage on Saturday on campus. The scrimmage could be later in the day with the funeral of Coach Larry Finch beginning at 11 a.m. at Hope Presbyterian Church in Cordova.
Coach Larry Porter took his Tigers through about a 100-play scrimmage on the ninth official practice of the spring at the Murphy Athletic Complex on Saturday. It was the first full-scale scrimmage for the squad, and Porter said at the end that the ones worked about 60 plays and the twos were in on about 40 plays.
Porter also worked in some punting and kick off situations. Coach Porter spoke after practice about how he was pleased with the cleanliness of the scrimmage, with only one turnover on the day.
"For a first scrimmage, I thought we were off to a pretty good start," said Porter. "There was some good and bad on both sides of the ball."
"We still have some growing to do offensively in a number of areas," added Porter. "But, knowing that the execution of the offense from a timing standpoint and not having turnovers and not making it sloppy, you can really point at some ways to make yourself better offensively."
Full the full writeup on the scrimmage, click HERE
See below for the post-scrimmage interview with Coach Porter.
The Tigers were out in shells today for more of a pass-oriented game plan as they prepare for their first full-scale scrimmage this weekend. Coach Porter talked a little bit about the scrimmage after practice and said that he won't be able to get in the neighborhood of 100 plays because of the lack of depth, particularly in the offensive line. He wants to get as much quality work out of the team as possible.
Coach Porter has spoken highly of the offensive line after just about every practice, commending them for continuing to fight though each day and each play. With only two returning players with extensive game experience, the group is working with junior college transfers, freshmen and converted defensive linemen to build a strong front. Redshirt freshman Al Bond continues to work extensively at center and is working hard on gaining consistency in snapping the ball to Andy Summerlin and Will Gilchrist.
Coach Porter mentioned that he has been impressed this spring with the cornerbacks, particularly Lonnie Ballentine, Mohammed Seisay, Taurean Nixon and Lavaris Edwards. He likes the competiveness that these guys have had and also spoke about Seisay getting some work at safety.
"The last two days I have been really excited about what I am seeing out of our defense," said Porter. "We are seeing more chemistry and continuity with that group. I still think the offense in general is a little sloppy, so we need to clean that up. We will have a much better feel for it on Saturday because we are going to scrimmage over here and put it out there and let them play."
The defensive line is one of the positions that has the most talent, experience and depth. The line is led by preseason honors candidates Dontari Poe and Frank Trotter. Also seeing many reps in the line this spring are returnees Dasmine Cathey, Daniel Thomas, Johnnie Farms and Tommy Walker and junior college transfer Zach Gholson. Corey Jones, who played as a true freshman last season, has been out so far this spring with an injury, while redshirt freshmen Martin Ifedi and Devin Clark are working their way into the rotation.
"I am finally starting to see what I have been expecting to see out of our defensive front," added Porter. "They have been very productive as a unit."
The Tigers are at the half-way point in spring practice. They will have six more practices in the next two weeks, and close out the spring with the Blue-Gray Game at the Liberty Bowl on Saturday, April 16. Festivities surrounding the spring game have been announced and can be found HERE.
See below for a video interview with quarterback Will Gilchrist. Will talks about his role this spring and how he looks forward to the opportunity to guide the Tigers as well as how he and Andy Summerlin push each other every day to create a competitive environment.
A steady rain fell during the first half-hour of practice as the Tigers were again forced to the turf field because the grass fields were too wet to practice on.
Today was more of a run-oriented practice with the Tigers in full pads. Jerrell Rhodes, who is being held from contact this spring, made several solid plays today. He and Jamere Valentine are getting a majority of the reps, while Billy Foster and Brandon Hayes are also adding much-needed depth. Hayes is back on the field after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Foster is getting a couple of reps in the run game, but is still working heavily with the receiving corps.
"I thought the defense was ahead of the offense today," said Coach Larry Porter after practice. "Several defensive players had flashes of doing some good things out there in terms of making plays. I am happy that the defense is becoming more consistent."
Coach Porter talked specifically about some of the defensive players that he is seeing consistency with, including defensive linemen Frank Trotter and Dontari Poe as well as Kenyata Johnson and Fred Harvey at linebacker. He also again singled out Mohammed Seisay for continuing to make plays in the secondary, and recalled a play on third down situation today when Lonnie Ballentine came in and made a big stop.
Porter is having to have patience with the offense as the group is battling through depth issues in the offensive line and at running back, as well as incorporating more of a spread offense into the mix.
"Offensively, we still have to overcome some of the little nuances that are involved with us doing some spread things, so that can be frustrating at times," said Porter.
The Tigers will be back out on the field Thursday, and Coach Porter said they will work heavily on the passing game with the squad in shells instead of full pads.
Check out the video below as defensive back Mitch Huelsing talks about the Tiger defense through the first two weeks of spring practice.
Come on Tiger fans ... Help support the Tigers and reserve your copy of the Athlon Sports College Football Preview magazine.
With the online purchase of the 2011 College Football Preview magazine, Memphis fans will have the opportunity to select a limited-edition "Custom Cover" featuring a Tiger Football stand-out. Athlon Sports will then donate one dollar from each magazine sold to the U of M's general scholarship fund.
If 1,000 pre-orders are received by the April 13 deadline, a custom cover will be produced to feature a Tiger Football star.
The Tigers completed their second week of spring practice on Friday. With the team practicing on Friday instead of Saturday, they will have additional days to break down the practice film over the weekend to continue to make progress when they come back out on Tuesday.
Coach Larry Porter singled out a couple of guys after practice when talking with the media, including receivers Billy Foster and Jamere Valentine on the offense, and Mohammed Seisay on the defense. He also commended the secondary for their progress and again noted how the offensive line has fought through every day of practice despite being low in numbers.
"We are starting to have guys identify themselves as playmakers on both sides of the ball," said Porter. "Billy Foster has had a tremendous week and a productive week in terms of just making plays. On the defensive side of the ball, Mo Seisay is a guy who stands out as improved, and so again, there are a lot of different guys who are starting to step up and prove that they are better."
The offensive line only returns two players with extensive playing time including Ronald Leary and Michael Antonescu. This week the line appears to be shaping up with Leary and Antonescu, along with redshirt freshman Al Bond, junior college transfer Jordan Devey and former defensive lineman DeAngelo McCray. Bond and Antonescu have been working at center, as the Tigers look to replace Brad Paul, who was on the Rimington Watch list both his junior and senior years. A.J. Antonescu, who also redshirted last season, is getting a lot of reps, and has handled some of the center duties as well. Taylor Fallin, a true freshman who came in early from Hargrave Military, has great size and is expected to add depth to the line early on. The group also gained another previous member of the defensive line as Jimmy Robinson is learning the other side of the ball now.
"Although we are thin at offensive line, they continue to improve," said Porter. "They are taking a lot of reps and they aren't feeling sorry for themselves, and because of it, you are starting to see these guys improve and become more of a cohesive unit."
Coach Porter also answered a couple of questions about the progress of quarterback Andy Summerlin. He spoke about how Andy has stepped in as a leader and that he is making progress. Andy talked early in the week about how he needs to knock some of the rust off his arm, and that is something that Coach Porter touched on too as far as him continuing to get his arm in good throwing shape. But Coach Porter said he is confident that he will continue to get better throughout the course of the spring.
Before practice, Ron Leary spoke about how different the line feels this spring. As the veteran, he is looked to for leadership and he was candid about how much different the adjustment has been with the guys next to him being so unfamiliar. Check out the video below and how Ron is ready for the challenge of leading this line.
Today was the first day in full pads for the Tigers and the squad practiced for about two hours on the grass fields at the Murphy Complex.
There was a lot of live action during the workout and the defense appeared to have the edge today, though Coach Larry Porter did commend the offense, particularly the line, for not giving in and continuing to fight to the end. He was pleased with the final period of action of the two minute drill, which saw the offense reach the endzone on a pass from Andy Summerlin to Tannar Rehrer.
"Today was a tough day for the offensive line," said Porter. "They fought to the end, and because of it, the offense finished this practice very, very strong. That is a compliment to the guys up front battling and staying with it."
There were a few nice offensive plays today during the various periods of live team work, including a couple of 15-yard receptions by Curtis Johnson and about a 20-yard reception by Tannar Rehrer. Junior college transfer Jamere Valentine seems to be getting adjusted well, and he made some nice offensive gains today. He had about a 15-yard reception and a couple of solid runs. Billy Foster also had a productive run that showed his sheer speed.
Darius Davis, who completed his eligibility this fall can't seem to get enough of practice and has been here the last couple of sessions to encourage the secondary. Another former Tiger came out today to check out the squad as former defensive lineman Clinton McDonald watched from the sidelines for a while. McDonald, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2009, is in school this semester completing his degree requirements. He is expected to earn his degree from the U of M in May.
The Tigers will practice tomorrow afternoon at the complex instead of their usual Saturday morning workout, and are nearly halfway through the spring practice session.
See below for a photo gallery of shots from practice, as well as the post-practice interview with Coach Porter.
The Tigers put on shoulder pads today for the fourth practice of the spring. The team worked out on the grass fields at the Murphy Athletic Complex and several fans came out to watch practice as Coach Larry Porter again opened the workout.
Before practice, Andy Summerlin talked about how he felt his first week of practice went and how his shoulder was doing. He said that he felt he was still a little rusty but that he felt comfortable out there right now. See the video below for a few comments from Andy today.
The Tigers went through 24 periods of team work, and ended the day with the two minute session for the last couple of periods. Andy Summerlin took the snaps during that drill, and Jerrell Rhodes had a couple of power runs during the series. Linebacker Fred Harvey came up with a nice pick in the center of the field while Cam Baker had a reception just before a strong hit by linebacker Khiry Battle.
Coach Porter talked after practice about how he felt there were too many mistakes and that they need to improve in several areas.
"There were too many mistakes by the offense today," said Porter. "I thought the defense did a pretty good job of getting some takeaways, but I do think we need to be better in third-down situations. There were some guys that showed some signs of improvement but overall, it was a hot and cold kind of day. We must be better come Thursday."
The Tigers will practice again on Thursday and will be in full pads for that workout.
Head coach Larry Porter threw out the first pitch prior to the Tigers' baseball game against Eastern Illinois on Sunday at FedExPark. The team may want him back to throw out the first pitch at more games after the U of M went on to beat the Panthers 11-7 and avoid the sweep in the three-game series.
The Tigers had their third practice of the spring today, and again, practice was open to the public. The squad was out in helmets and shorts, and this was the first practice on the grass fields, which had finally dried out enough for the team to use. In addition to the fans that came out to watch practice, a couple of the players that Coach Larry Porter signed in February attended practice, including quarterback Taylor Reed out of El Dorado High in Arkansas. Also spotted was Wooddale linebacker Kevin Green.
The team utilized 24 periods for practice and both sides of the ball did some good things during the team periods. Andy Summerlin continued to show signs that his shoulder is not hindering his progress as he made many crisp throws both inside and down the field. He hit Curtis Johnson and Billy Foster for some nice tosses down the field, and also had a couple of quick screens to running back Jerrell Rhodes and solid throws to tight ends Andrew Ene-Ita and Justin Henderson. Will Gilchrist is also making strides within this offense and continuing to compete at that position. He hit some on-target throws to redshirt freshmen Reggie Travis and Kevin Wright, who are both working hard and competing this spring. The defense appears to have some much-needed speed and the line is continuing to apply pressure. Akeem Davis picked off a pass to give the defense one of their turnovers, and the young players in the secondary such as Lonnie Ballentine, Mohammed Seisay and Taurean Nixon continue to learn and compete and make plays.
Porter again was pleased with the effort and the energy in practice.
"This was a very productive practice," said Porter. "I thought there were a lot of things that we can learn from and go off of from this practice. There is a lot of good stuff on this practice film. I am looking forward to getting into the meeting room on Monday and allowing these guys to see this film because I think they will be proud of their progress."
The Tigers did also have a special guest return to his alma mater and speak to the team after practice. DeAngelo Williams watched as a true fan of the school he represents, and then spoke to the team about how much he loves this university and even spoke some about the reason he came to Memphis in the first place. He ended his talk by saying that every player should take pride in the helmet. He is a true ambassador of this university and it is obvious that he "bleeds Blue and Gray," as he said. Williams also had a chance to see the new Tiger Football weight room while he was here.
"It's always a privilege and a great pleasure to have some of your own come back, but to have the most productive player in Memphis history show his face and support us in a very strong and encouraging way, I think that signifies that things are headed in the right direction in terms of getting our own back involved," said Porter. "I look forward to having many more do the same as we go forward."
While it was tough to handle the wonderful aroma of the grill during practice, it was a nice treat to have the Highland Hundred and M Club grill burgers and hot dogs for the fans and team after practice. The players really enjoyed the food and it was a nice touch for the end of the first week of spring practice.
The Tigers will be back on the field Tuesday afternoon, and are also scheduled to practice Thursday and Saturday next week. The next chance for fans to see the progress that the Tigers are making will be at the Blue-Gray Game on April 16. The game is set for 1 p.m. at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
What a great day for practice today. The Tigers were out in shorts and helmets again today for their second of 15 practice sessions. It was sunny and nearly 80 degrees and the Tigers went through another two-hour workout on the turf field. A few fans came out again to watch practice, and it appeared some high school coaches and players took advantage of some time off from school for spring break to come out and watch practice. Some of the high school coaches looked to be studying the structure of the practice and drills.
Coach Larry Porter continued to talk about how he is pleased with the progress his team is making in just two days on the field.
"I thought there was improvement today," said Porter. "We are not there, by any means, but if you look at the way that the quarterbacks managed the offense, I thought they did a much better job today. Defensively, we are starting to have some discipline in our technique, and that is encouraging. Special team was even better from a footwork standpoint, and those are the things we are trying to stress."
Porter spoke briefly about some individuals today, including receivers Kevin Wright and Reggie Travis, who both redshirted last year. He also spoke of the young secondary, which including Lonnie Ballentine, Taurean Nixon and Mohammed Seisay, who all played as freshmen in 2010.
"I thought some of the young receivers looked good today and I also liked some of our young secondary guys as well, just in the competitive nature that they are showing," said Porter. "I thought that it was a step up from what I am used to seeing. And then, when you look at guys like Jordan Devey and D'Angelo McCray, you look at where they were yesterday and where they were today and it is a night and day difference. It is progress, and that is what spring is all about."
The squad will have Friday off from practice and will come back again Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. That practice is also open to Tiger Nation. The Highland Hundred and the M Club will be grilling out on Saturday for the fans. Special thanks to former Tiger Pete Scatamacchia of Hardin's Sysco, who is providing the food Saturday.
A big Tiger congratulations goes out to Darby Dunnagan, who was named the C-USA Video Coordinator of the Year as voted on by her peers. Dunnagan has been with the athletic department since 2007. She will now be placed on the ballot for National Video Coordinator of the Year.
The Tiger Football team opened spring practice Wednesday afternoon at the Murphy Athletic Complex. The squad is allowed 15-practice sessions, which will conclude with the Blue-Gray Game on April 16 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
The Tigers utilized the turf field, and about 50 fans came out to view practice as Coach Larry Porter has opened the first three practices to the public. The squad will practice at 3:30 on Thursday and 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The team practiced for about two hours in helmets and shorts today.
For the full release about practice, including comments from Coach Larry Porter, click HERE.
Memphis head football coach Larry Porter met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the beginning of spring camp. Watch an archive video of the press conference above as well as read a transcript of Coach Porter's presser here.
Coach Larry Porter is holding a Spring Football Kickoff luncheon with the local media on Tuesday afternoon. He will talk about his plans for the 15-practice sessions and members of the media will have an opportunity to ask him questions about the various position battles out there.
The Tigers begin practice on Wednesday, and fans are invited to come out and get an up-close look at their hometown Tigers as Coach Porter has opened Wednesday (3:30 pm), Thursday (3:30 pm) and Saturday (10:30 am) practices to Tiger Nation.
The 2011 Spring Football session begins on Wednesday. During the spring, the Memphis athletic media relations staff will post blog updates with information, photos and videos as the Tigers prepare for the 2012 season.