The Bulldogs kick-off their 2011 season with a road trip, to Memphis, for a Thursday night game on Fox Sports. Definitely not a normal start to a football season. Memphis is coming off a terrible season under new coach Larry Porter, going 1-11 in their 2010 campaign.
This team appears to be in shambles and it may take some time to build them back up to at least a competitive level with their Conference USA foes, much less SEC-caliber talent. So let us take a look at what we can expect from the Memphis Tigers this year.Let's start with the offense. Last year, Memphis started a true freshman at quarterback. You would think that after a year under his belt in the system, he would come in to his sophomore year with more experience and ready to play. But, he decided to transfer to Miami in the off season as Memphis made the switch to a spread offense system.
Their apparent starting quarterback, Andy Summerlin, is a JUCO transfer who had to sit out all last year due to a shoulder injury.
I think you see where this is going, right?
Look for Memphis to try to get the ball in the hands of sophomore RB Jerrell Rhodes to balance their play calling. Their best offensive weapon is probably junior WR Marcus Rucker. Rucker became a quarterbacks best friend last year. He has the size and speed to make plays, and caught 41 passes last year for just over 700 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Memphis' strength seems to be its defensive, specifically the front. Three starters anchor the defensive front - Frank Trotter, Dontari Poe and Corey Jones. Trotter is probably the most capable player on the Tiger defense and this front unit should help relieve the back seven.
Don't look for anything big out of this Memphis team this year. They are clearly in rebuilding mode and have another year or two to get back to where they were under former coach Tommy West.
I am sure they will give Mississippi State fans a few scares (as Memphis always does) but expect the Bulldogs to be 1-0 heading to the plains to take on Auburn in our second game against 3 very different types of tigers.