Tigers Travel to A-State Saturday
Go Tigers! Sophomore linebacker Charles Harris registered 12 tackles in his first career start last week against UT Martin.
Go Tigers!
Sophomore linebacker Charles Harris registered 12 tackles in his first career start last week against UT Martin.
Go Tigers!

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For the second time in as many seasons, the University of Memphis will make the journey over the Mississippi River and travel to Arkansas State for the second game of the year.

Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. at ASU Stadium and the game will be shown online at ESPN3 as well as broadcast on the Memphis Radio Network led by flagship station NewsRadio 600 WREC in Memphis. The game can also be heard on WAMB-AM (1160) in Nashville and WJAK-AM (1460) in Jackson.

Both the Tigers and Red Wolves are coming off season-opening losses. In a game which featured a 2:40 delay for inclement weather in Memphis last week, the Tigers lost a 20-17 game to UT Martin on a last-minute field goal. Arkansas State dropped a 57-34 decision on the road at No. 5 Oregon.

Saturday's game will be the home opener for Arkansas State. The Red Wolves have won their last seven home openers including a 47-3 victory over Memphis in A-State's first home game of the 2011 season. ASU went on to post a 10-3 record last year and is the defending Sun Belt Conference champions, finishing with an 8-0 record in league play.

The Red Wolves return the heart of their offense in last year's Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year, senior quarterback Ryan Aplin. Last year Appling completed 304-of-476 passes for 3588 yards. He is coming off a 29-for-44 performance last week at Oregon, racking up 304 passing yards. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for another against the Ducks.

All told, Arkansas State has 52 lettermen returning including 23 seniors. Aplin is one of 10 returning starters including six on offense.

Last week senior receiver Josh Jarboe caught 13 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown in the road loss at Oregon. Junior running back David Oku ran for 81 yards on 12 carries.

Against the nationally-ranked Ducks, Arkansas State amassed 530 yards of total offense including 239 on the ground.

 

 

Defensively, senior linebacker Nathan Herrold had 11 tackles against Oregon's offense.

"We have a tremendous challenge in front of us," said Memphis first-year coach Justin Fuente. "Arkansas State, offensively, is explosive and powerful and fast-paced. Defensively, they have replaced numerous starters from last year's squad. I am not sure you can quite judge them from last week's game against Oregon. We will have our hands full."

Memphis will counter Arkansas State's senior-laden and veteran squad with a team which had 26 players gain their first playing experience as Tigers in last week's game against UT Martin.

The Tigers started just five seniors against UT Martin. In fact, Memphis has one of the smallest senior classes in FBS football (14 seniors).

"I think you will see us continue to get better," Fuente said at his weekly press conference earlier in the week. "We play so many young guys. There were so many guys on the field that played their first college game against UT Martin. There were starters that had never played college ball. Quite a few of them played admirably."

Transfer Jacob Karam made his debut at quarterback against the Skyhawks, completing 12-of-28 passes for 157 yards and also ran for 52. Junior running back Jerrell Rhodes rushed for a career-high 106 yards on 24 carries, becoming the first U of M player to have a 100-yard rushing game since 2010.

Defensively, sophomore linebacker Charles Harris led the Tigers with a 12-tackle performance against UT Martin in his first career start. Junior defensive back Lonnie Ballentine had his first two, career interceptions to go along with eight tackles in the game. Transfer Anthony Brown also had eight stops against the Skyhawks.

Following Saturday's road game, the Tigers are back at home on Sept. 15 when they play host to Middle Tennessee. The final nonconference game comes the following week on the road at Duke. Kickoff for that game will be announced on Monday.

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