Tigers Reach Season's Midpoint with Momentum
Go Tigers! Memphis quarterback Jacob Karam was recruited by current ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill.
Go Tigers!
Memphis quarterback Jacob Karam was recruited by current ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill.
Go Tigers!

Oct. 12, 2012

Gameday Central
Link to Game Notes

Fresh off their first victory under rookie head coach Justin Fuente, the Tigers reach the midway point of the season on Saturday when they travel to East Carolina. Last week, Memphis came back from a 10-0, halftime deficit to beat Rice 14-10 to snap an eight-game losing streak which dated back to the 2011 season.

The Last Meeting
East Carolina35
Memphis17
October 15, 2011
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Second Half Outburst Leads ECU Past Memphis, 35-17
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The University of Memphis fell to East Carolina University 35-17 in football action at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Saturday.


Memphis is now 1-4 overall but with last week's win, opened conference play with a victory for the first time since 2000.

East Carolina has had an extra day to prepare for the Tigers following last Thursday's 40-20 loss at UCF.

ECU, 3-3 overall and 2-1 in C-USA action, will be celebrating homecoming this week.

Kickoff on Saturday is slated for 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time/3:30 p.m. Central and will be broadcast on the Memphis Radio Network and flagship station WREC 600 as well as televised by CSS.

With its first Conference USA victory behind them, the Tigers are now in search of their second league victory in the same season for the first time since the 2008 campaign. But to accomplish that feat, Memphis will have to get past an ECU team which is 2-0 at home and began conference play last month with a 24-14 victory at defending conference champion Southern Miss.

Schematically, Fuente said ECU's defense is similar to what Memphis utilizes while adding the strength of the Pirates' defensive unit was its front seven.

"They are pretty special football players," he said. "They are athletic, hard-nosed and tough. Defensively, they are as good as we have played."

Sophomore inside linebacker Jeremy Grove is the Pirates' co-leader in tackles with 42. He also has 3.5 tackles for loss and has forced two fumbles. Sophomore nose tackle Terry Williams has played in just four of six games but leads the team with 4.5 tackles for lost yards and one quarterback sack.

 

 

Offensively, ECU sophomore quarterback Shane Carden has completed 93-of-151 passes for 991 yards and four touchdowns with sophomore inside receiver Justin Hardy catching 39 passes for 480 yards and five scores. Running back Vntvus Cooper, a junior transfer from Southwest Mississippi Community College, leads the Pirates' ground game with 362 yards and a touchdown on 69 carries.

"Their tailback is an exceptional football player, and they have tall tight ends and a quarterback that is finding his way," Fuente said. "We'll certainly have our work cut out for us."

In its first win of the season, Memphis' defense allowed just three points.

Against a Rice team which was averaging 445 yards of total offense, Memphis held the Owls to just 221 yards of total offense - 104 rushing and 117 passing.

"I think the defense played so well that it allowed the offense to continue to run the ball," Fuente said. "If the defense hadn't been playing so well, then offensively we may have had to stray away from the plan. They overcame some of the offense's mistakes and really kept us in it."

Senior safety Mitch Huelsing led the Tigers with seven tackles in the game while transfer linebacker Tank Jakes had six solo stops.

The Tigers' running game was led by junior transfer Brandon Hayes who did not play the first three games of the season. Against Rice, Hayes had six carries for 51 yards.

Memphis quarterback Jacob Karam was recruited by ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill who previously served on the coaching staff at Texas Tech where Karam played his first two-plus seasons.

Karam heads into the weekend having completed 73-of-123 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns.

Against Rice, Memphis played two quarterbacks and at times interchanged Karam and Eric Mathews every other play. Mathews completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Alan Cross to give the Tigers a 14-10 lead which proved to be the game-winning score. The completion marked Mathews first as a Tiger.

Keiwone Malone is the Tigers' leading receiver. He has caught 25 passes for 272 yards. Marcus Rucker has 20 receptions for 263 yards.

McNeill said the keys for ECU on Saturday were fundamentals.

"For us to accomplish what we need to do, our offense, defense and special teams need to play key roles," he said. "I think we need to continue our emphasis on fundamentals. At this point of the year some teams neglect them but we can't and won't. We can't be satisfied with our fundamentals."

Following Saturday's game, the Tigers return to the Liberty Bowl to play host to UCF in a second straight game set to be televised by CSS. East Carolina is on the road next week at UAB.

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