It's hard to believe we are approaching the end of regular season play. We have accomplished so much already this year, yet still are looking to accomplish even more. We had a record breaking start to the season, now we are ready to have a record breaking ending. This team has been "the first" on so many accounts, but the one account we want more than any is to be the first to go to the NCAA tournament. With seven games left in regular season play, we will soon get our shot at once again rewriting the record books!
Earlier in the month, Tulsa gave us bit of a headache and swept us on our home field. Fact or Fiction: Tigers are very territorial and seek revenge when an enemy invades their territory. I will have to check with the Discovery Channel, but judging by the way our team has responded to the Tulsa series, I'm thinking this is a fact! Ever since the Tulsa invasion, we have had great performances from every aspect of the game. It's almost as if we are operating in a "Refuse to Lose" gear. It's a pretty good gear to be in at this point in the season, so I don't see us switching gears anytime soon!
Last week we headed to Little Rock to face SEC opponent Arkansas. Arkansas joined Kentucky in our list of SEC wins. This game is becoming a tradition between our schools. The location of the contest is labeled as "neutral". Not sure if I fully agree as 99 percent of the fans were dressed in maroon and white. We did have at least one fan dressed in royal that I remember seeing. He stuck out like a sore thumb. It was Lauren Carley's boyfriend who is from the Little Rock area. Hopefully, we will start accumulating more and more fans every year. We did some great things that game but two things in particular stick out in my mind. The first, Jessica (Phillips) did a little re-writing of the record books of her own and became the single-season homerun leader. This is a great accomplishment for a player who deserves it! Second, Kamri (Chester) made two of the best plays in the outfield that I have ever seen. She stole back-to-back homeruns by showing off her speed and crashing through the temporary fence. These were big plays because it prevented Arkansas from gaining any life.
It's the last week of classes. Wednesday marks the end of the semester with Thursday reserved for study day and Friday starting Finals. Aside from the stress of Finals, it's an exciting time during the season as we will soon have nothing to study for and all our focus will be shifted to softball. I take pride in being a Student-Athlete but I am counting down the days when I can finish out the season as just an Athlete!
We have a mid-week game against UT-Martin and then take on UAB this weekend. It should be a fun weekend as many friends and families will be in town for Senior Day. Looking forward to another great week!
It's been an up and down year for the Tigers as they find themselves in first place in CUSA with 20 games left, but on the bubble for an NCAA. We're coming off a sweep at UAB, following three straight losses.
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 longest preseason of my life is over. The first week I thought I would die, the next couple were a bit of a blur, and the last few, I have been mostly conscious and functioning. This last week has been busy with practices (still two a day), appearances, interviews, meetings, and all of the excitement surrounding the first game. We play Boston at home in our beautiful big stadium on a Saturday night. I have no idea how many people will be here, but I think last year they had about 6,000 fans come out for the home opener. The grass is really nice on the field, the weather should be perfect to play soccer in, so it's a good deal for everyone.
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 $1 per magazine ordered from Athlon Sports as a donation to the Tiger Scholarship Fund. Help support the Tigers!
The Tigers have just two weeks left of spring ball and are continuing to work on being more consistent. The squad spent more time on situational work today such as third down and redzone defense, which Coach Larry Porter said his defense needed to get better at following the scrimmage last Saturday.
Andy Summerlin and Will Gilchrist continue to push each other at quarterback and both made some solid throws today. They certainly have plenty of targets to throw to. The receiving corps has a good bit of depth this year with veterans such as Marcus Rucker, Curtis Johnson, Cam Baker, Tannar Rehrer and Billy Foster, who all made plays last season. In addition, redshirt freshmen Reggie Travis and Kevin Wright as well as spring newcomer Jamere Valentine are all showing play-maker ability. Wright made a couple of nice catches in last week's scrimmage, and Valentine has shown that he can do some damage both on the ground and through the air.
The Tigers will practice again on Thursday, and are expected to scrimmage on Saturday on campus. The scrimmage could be later in the day with the funeral of Coach Larry Finch beginning at 11 a.m. at Hope Presbyterian Church in Cordova.
One word to describe this weekend: " %#!$@&*^%$*#@%*&^$!" I think I will keep my translation to myself and let you translate any way you wish!
However, as long as we have another game left, we still have life. I can't help but to think back to last year when we knocked out Tulsa from the conference tournament after losing the regular season series to them. I know this is a new year, but it shows how quickly things can change in postseason. If we face them again in the conference tournament, the tradition will remain the same. Everything builds up to one weekend with every team playing their best hand. All games up to that point seem to fly out the window. All records reset to 0-0 and you earn every game you get. With that being said, we got pushed down and maybe a black eye this weekend, but we are jumping back up and continuing the fight.
In our postgame chat, we talked about keeping the Tulsa weekend in perspective. We talked about how we can't let the high points of our season get so high and the low points get so low that we forget about our ultimate goal. This is definitely on the low end of the spectrum, but what we take from it is what really matters. There is no point looking back and dwelling on what we did wrong but taking those things and finding ways to do them better. This approach allows us to pinpoint our weaknesses and enables us to continue to grow as a team. We are only defeated when we stop growing. Getting swept by Tulsa says nothing about how good of a team we are. In fact, it implies a false perception of our team. We are better than what we showed this weekend, and we are determined to prove that. We have good stretch of midweek games coming up that will provide an opportunity for us to get some swagger back and get some momentum going into the next couple conference series.
Wednesday we face Alabama State and are looking to add 2 W's to our home turf record. Then we travel to Marshall and take the thunder out of the Herd! Excited for a new week and a new challenge!
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.