Memphis Takes on USM in Finale Saturday
Nov. 23, 2012
Memphis heads into the 2012 season finale having won consecutive games for the first time since 2008. The Tigers are 3-8 overall and 3-4 in their final season in Conference USA. Southern Miss will look to avoid going winless for the first time since 1925. The Golden Eagles are 0-11. This will be the first season since 2001 USM has not reached a bowl game.
Saturday's game is slated for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and will be broadcast on the Memphis Radio Network and flagship station WREC 600 as well as televised by CSS. Outside the CSS cable television footprint (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia), fans can watch the scoreboard feed of the game through Memphis Tiger Network All-Access via GoTigersGo.com.
Set to be honored prior to the game Saturday will be linebacker Chris Bertucci, linebacker Akeem Davis, offensive lineman Jordan Devey, defensive lineman Zach Gholson, place kicker Paulo Henriques, linebacker Ricky Holloway, defensive back Mitch Huelsing, linebacker Kenyata Johnson, defensive back Tarondal Phillips, defensive lineman Jimmy Robinson, wide receiver Marcus Rucker, snapper Jeremy Singler, defensive back Cannon Smith, defensive back Robert Steeples, defensive back DeAndre Thompson and punter/holder Austin Weaver.
"Those 16 kids have all been at this University for different amounts of time. A couple of them are one-year guys, some are junior college guys and some have been here since their senior year in high school." said Memphis head coach Justin Fuente. "All of them have played a big role in what we're trying to accomplish and what we're trying to build. We are going to do everything we can to make sure we celebrate their career and send them off the right way."
The Tigers realize that despite a win, Southern Miss is a dangerous season-ending opponent which will also look for momentum heading into 2013.
The Golden Eagles almost got their first win of the season last week, losing at home to UTEP 34-33.
USM amassed a season-high 532 yards of offense and quarterback Arsenio Favor threw for a season-best 374 yards against the Miners. A USM touchdown with 2:48 to play cut UTEP's lead to 34-33 but the Golden Eagles failed to convert on a two-point play before the Miners ran out the clock.
"I can assure you after watching them on film on both sides of the ball for hours at a time that they are a more than capable football team," Fuente said. "When you take a team that's got talent like that - receivers, running backs and defensive guys - that can change the football game, they're very dangerous. I think our kids know that we'll have to play well to have a chance."
Favor, one of four quarterbacks to start this season for Southern Miss, is expected to get his third start of the season against Memphis.
Entering the week, Favor has completed 30-of-49 passes for 567 yards and tow touchdowns.
"He'll probably do a much better job (as he gains more experience)," said Southern Miss first-year coach Ellis Johnson of the redshirt sophomore quarterback. "This is a young man that we did not have in the spring or fall and has only been back about five weeks. He's still not even totally comfortable with (the offense)."
On defense, senior defensive end Jamie Collins leads the Golden Eagles with 88 total tackles. He ranks fourth nationally in quarterback sacks with 10 and tied for 12th in tackles for loss with 20.
USM's 0-11 record includes a 21-17 loss at home to Louisville, ranked No. 19 this week in the AP poll, as well as a 38-31 double-overtime loss at UCF.
"We still need to get a win for these older guys, a pat on the back, something positive to take these young ones into the offseason program," USM's Johnson said.
Memphis followed up a 37-23 win over Tulane with arguably its best team performance of the season in a 46-9 win over UAB last week.
In the past two weeks junior quarterback Jacob Karam has completed 28-of-34 passes for 417 yards and five touchdowns. Junior running back Brandon Hayesis coming off his first, 100-yard rushing game. He had 19 carries for 127 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers' win at UAB.
Memphis has tallied 300+ yards of offense in each of the past two games including 333 yards of offense against UAB last week. The Tigers have scored 83 points over the last two weeks. The 46 points last week against UAB was the most since scoring 55 points against SMU in 2007.
Over the past two weeks, the University has slowed a pair of offenses which were surging at the time of their losses to Memphis. Tigers lead Conference USA in total defense for conference games.
Sophomore linebacker Charles Harriscontinues to lead the Tigers in tackles with 74.
In last week's win over UAB, Memphis' defense matched a season high with six quarterback sacks.Sophomore interior lineman Terry Reddenhad two quarterback sacks in the win over UAB, the first of his career.
The Southern Miss/Memphis series is the longest in Tiger football history. The Tigers and Golden Eagles have met 62 previous times, making Saturday's match-up No. 63.