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!
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.
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.
For the complete story, please CLICK HERE
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 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!
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.