The Bright Side With Jeff Brightwell
Nov. 10, 2011
MEMPHIS, TENN. -
BY: JEFF BRIGHTWELL, Learfield Sports
The Memphis Tigers return home after a much-needed bye week to face UAB in the annual "Battle for the Bones" game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon at 3:15. The Tigers had a week to heal following a loss at UCF two weeks ago, while the Blazers fell to Houston last week, 56-13.
The Tigers will look for a strong finish in November to close out the season, starting with UAB this weekend. Head Coach Larry Porter said at Monday's press conference, the goal for the team was simple.
"We've narrowed our goal down to winning November, and this is the first game," said Porter. "The players know that we need to go out and play our best brand of football."
Both coaches are very much aware of the rivalry between the schools, which is heightened by the 100-pound rack of ribs trophy that goes to the winning squad.
"I'm excited about this weekend's opportunity," said Porter. "I think our kids are truly recharged and ready to attack. This is the "Battle for the Bones," and we face an opponent that's dangerous."
UAB Head Coach Neil Callaway expressed his thoughts on the matchup.
"It's a rivalry game, and it's been a good series since I've been here," explained Callaway. "There's not only a lot in common with our football teams this year, but there is a lot in common with the universities and cities."
Porter said the week off not only gave them time to recharge mentally and physically, but it allowed some players to return to practice.
"Jerrell (Rhodes) practiced, Joe (Price) practiced and Artaves (Gibson) practiced last week," according to Porter. All three backs will be needed, in addition to senior Billy Foster, if the running game will be successful against the Blazers, which has allowed its opponents an average of 193 yards rushing a game.
The Blazers are currently 1-8 overall and 1-5 in Conference USA after last week's loss. But, UAB can be dangerous as the Blazers beat UCF, 26-24, earlier in the season.
Defensively, UAB will apply pressure up front, according to Porter, especially with tackle Elliott Henigan and end Diaheem Watkins.
"In every formation except one, they blitz over 50 percent of the time," said Porter. "Certainly we have to be ready to handle pressure. They have based out of a four-down front. At times, they play a lot of three down and take the ends and stand them up."
Offensively, Jonathan Perry has taken over at quarterback for UAB and has four starts under his belt and has a quality receiving core.
The "Bright Side" for Memphis is that they finally had a bye week to heal and regroup. Saturday afternoon a dedicated and committed group of seniors will be honored before the game, and the first game in November presents them with the opportunity to "Win November" and help build a foundation for future teams at Memphis.
Please see below for an interview with offensive lineman Ronald Leary as he talks about Senior Day, playing against his former coach Tommy West and winning November.
Jeff Brightwell is considered the "voice of Tiger baseball and women's basketball," and serves as the broadcast team captain handling the majority of the production and engineering duties for Tiger football games. A 1996 graduate of the University of Memphis, Brightwell came to Memphis in 2003 after spending six years in Missouri. He has done play-by-play for Southeast Missouri State, Central Methodist College, Truman State, Moberly Community College and the Memphis RiverKings. For the last eight years, the native Memphian has broadcast both home and away contests for Memphis baseball and women's basketball on WUMR FM. He also hosts a weekly Tiger Update web show that is streamed through Memphis Tiger Vision on the athletic department website.