Memphis Opens C-USA Play Against Rice
Go Tigers! Charles Harris (45) and Anthony Brown (49) rank among the nation's leaders in tackles. The Tigers play host to Rice Saturday.
Go Tigers!
Charles Harris (45) and Anthony Brown (49) rank among the nation's leaders in tackles. The Tigers play host to Rice Saturday.
Go Tigers!

Oct. 5, 2012

Gameday Central
Link to Game Notes

Saturday marks a fresh start for the University of Memphis football team.

Four nonconference games followed by a bye week are now behind the Tigers who open their final Conference USA campaign Saturday by playing host to interdivisional opponent Rice in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the Memphis Radio Network and flagship station WREC 600 as well as televised by Fox College Sports Central.

"I think there's a renewed sense of `let's get out there and go,'" Memphis head coach Justin Fuente said earlier in the week. "It's pretty straightforward. There are eight games against conference foes.

"If you are a player and you realize you've been this close in the first four games to taking steps in the right direction, now you have eight opportunities against guys that are in your league and you're familiar with," he added. "You have an eight-game stretch to continue to take steps forward. I think that would be cause for excitement, optimism and for continuing your hard work and dedication to the craft."

Memphis is 0-4 and coming off a 38-14 loss at Duke two weeks ago. Since a 25-24 win at Kansas, Rice has lost three straight games to fall to 1-4. The Owls opened C-USA play two weeks ago at home with a 54-51 overtime loss to Marshall and are coming off a 35-14 loss to crosstown rival Houston.

The Last Meeting
October 8, 2011
Houston, Texas
Memphis Drops Road Contest to Rice, 28-6
The University of Memphis fell 28-6 to Rice on the road at Rice Stadium Saturday afternoon. After compiling just 107 yards of offense in the first half, including 57 yards passing, Memphis finished with 307 total offensive yards.

In last week's loss, Rice was without starting quarterback Taylor McHargue who missed the game with a shoulder injury. The junior signal caller is expected to return for Saturday's game after leading the Owls in both rushing and passing through the first four games. McHargue has run for 359 yards and four touchdowns while completing 81-of-133 passes for 927 yards and seven scores.

The Owls have had success running the ball, averaging 196 yards per game on the ground. Behind McHargue's team-leading total, Charles Ross has 296 rushing yards while Turner Petersen has rushed for 193 yards. Rice also features one of the league's top offensive playmakers in senior receiver Sam McGuffie who has caught 22 passes for 303 yards.



"They can hurt you in every phase of the game," Fuente said. "They've earned the reputation the last several years as being pretty salty on offense. They've got some skill guys. They're very sound in all their schemes and they do a great job in maximizing all their kids."

Rice is averaging 445 yards of total offense but the Owls are coming off a performance in which head coach David Bailiff said his team did not execute.

"Way too many dropped passes," Bailiff said of last week's game against Houston. "We left too many opportunities and points on the field and you can't do that in college football. We have got to quit worrying so much about the big picture and play the next play. We've got to look at Memphis, play our best, execute, play with passion and still continue to enjoy this journey."

Defensively, Rice is led by junior safety Paul Porras and junior linebacker Cameron Nwosu. Porras has 48 tackles on the year while Nwosu has registered 38 stops including two for lost yardage. In the Owls' season opener against UCLA, Nwosu blocked three kicks.

Rice only has seven seniors on this year's team, the fewest in NCAA Division I FBS football.

Memphis, which is also a young team, having played 33 newcomers including 12 freshmen, continues to aim at improving its running game. The Tigers are averaging 121 yards per game on the ground.

"Obviously, we have focused on running the football," Fuente said. "Everything from scheme to personnel to fundamentals. We went through and examined every single bit of it. We're going to try and get as much out of what we got as humanly possible. I like to say we left no stone unturned.

In addition to completing 65-of-111 passes for 717 yards and five scores, Memphis starting quarterback Jacob Karam is the team's leading available rusher with 82 yards through four games. Running backs Jai Steib, Carl Harris and Jaquise Cook have combined for 148 yards this season.

Senior receiver Marcus Rucker moved onto the Tigers' Top 10 career receiving chart two weeks ago at Duke and leads the team with 248 receiving yards (18 catches) and three touchdowns. Sophomore Keiwone Malone leads the Tigers with 23 receptions for 246 yards.

Both receivers had over 100 yards in the Tigers' last game played in the Liberty Bowl back on Sept. 15 against Middle Tennessee.

Defensively, Charles Harris ranks seventh nationally in tackles, averaging 11 stops per game (44 total). Junior safety Lonnie Ballentine and junior linebacker Anthony Brown each has 35 tackles through four games. Ballentine also had two interceptions in the Tigers' opener against UT Martin.

Following Saturday's game, Memphis is on the road next week at East Carolina.

Saturday's game will be available throughout the country on Fox College Sports Central. Locally on Comcast, the game will be available on Channel 721 as well as nationaly on DirectTV Channel 623 for subscribers with inclusive packages.
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