Memphis in the Meantime
It’s been quite a stretch of games. Auburn. Georgia. Alabama. South Carolina. Now it’s on to Ole Miss.
Aw, crap. I forgot. “Hey honey, do we really have to host this get together this weekend at our house? You know I’ve never even talked with my cousin from Memphis. I don’t even know him that well. And I don’t think I really want to. All he wants to talk about is basketball. For chrissake, it’s football season!”
“Dear, you knew we made this commitment weeks ago . It’s been on our calendar.”
“I know, I know. But can’t we say we caught the H1N1 or the R2D2 or whatever they call that pig flu?”
Do you feel the same? Hasn’t it felt like a bye week? Don’t you really wish you could do something else this Saturday? (I am, but I’m not telling anybody)…
One of the differences between the NFL and the NCAA brands of football is focus. Yes, the NFL has a longer regular season. But I’ve heard that keeping college players focused week after week is much more difficult that for their professional counterparts. And thus it’s always scary, particularly if you’ve followed the Vols for many years, to look at the schedule and see the minnows, particularly those that show up in November from time to time.
So it’s the Memphis Minnows coming to town for a dreadful 7:00 pm start on a Saturday when surely there will be lots of empty seats down by the river. Surely a day game would have been a much more reasonable thing to do – a nice sunny cool day is forecast. Perfect for football. I mean, really. Who goes to any of those Homecoming functions during the day? My theorem in three parts:
- Memphis + 7:00 pm start = 85,000.
- Memphis + first half = 75,000 or less willing to stay until the fourth quarter.
- Memphis + three quarters = 60,000 hearty (drunk) souls who either have a hotel room for the evening or live in the Knoxville area.
Dreadfully boring. Except for one thing…
… the prospect of watching My Man Montario – we’ll call him 3M from here on out – run against a pretty bad rushing defense (rated 105th in the nation). As John Adams pointed out earlier this week, Montario is getting close to numbers that would put him in the elite of Vol rushers. Listen to this…
3M has 841 yards rushing this season with 4 regular season games remaining. That’s 159 shy of the 1,000-yard club that currently has 13 members. That’s also 623 shy of the 1,464 yards put up during the 2001 season by Travis Stephens for the all-time Tennessee record.
So do the math and look at the opportunity against a defense worse than Belgium in 1940. If you’re thinking you were going to see lots of Bryce Brown and David Oku Saturday evening while 3M enjoys the scenery from the sidelines, think again. This is a huge opportunity for 3M to put his stamp on Tennessee history. He could get to 1,000 yards for the season by 10:00 pm this Saturday. A 200 yard performance on Homecoming might just be in the cards. Nights like that usually take one of those 60 or 70 yard runs from scrimmage. Then, with that accomplishment in the bag, who knows? Because bowl games now count for season records, and this team has an excellent opportunity to go bowling (it’s in the bag, folks), and both Vandy and Kentucky have rushing defenses as equally dreadful as Memphis, well…
I’m worried about 3M’s knee, especially when they play in Oxford on that FieldTurf plastic stuff. I know it’s got shredded tires and other stuff to make it more cushy than the old concrete-like Astro Turf, but still, it’s not like Mother Earth when it comes to wear-and-tear on flesh-and-bone. So, fingers crossed. One step at a time, 3M. Let’s hope you get to poke your head above that 1,000-yard line by evening’s end.
It’s really the only reason to go to or watch this one on ESPNU.
To be fair, we do have an opponent that has athletes that want to whip our orange butts. If you are looking for the details and numbers on the Tigers football squad, visit Joel’s post over at RTT. He’s done the research and shared it all for our benefit. But it is worth mentioning here that they do have three noteworthy players.
Senior RB Curtis Steele (#26) is, get this, the 28th leading rusher in the nation (not bad – Hardesty is 19th). And, he didn’t even play in two games. He made up for lost time when he romped for 249 against UTEP and 146 against Southern Miss recently. Senior WR Duke Calhoun (#22) is Conference USA’s leading receiver and is ranked 14th in the country. And, their senior punter, Matt Reagan (#43), is not only Conference USA’s leading punter, but is also ranked 4th nationally.
So, before we dismiss the minnows completely, they have some fine senior talent at three key skilled positions. Maybe this game might be worth a look after all. And, let’s not forget that their head coach, Tommy West, is in his 9th season at the helm and has lead the Tigers to bowl appearances in 5 of the last 6 seasons. He was Clemson’s head coach for 5 seasons before that. And, oh yes, he was the Vols’ tight end under Bill Battle in the early 70′s. We wish him well, after he’s 2-6 that is.
So who’s gonna win? I don’t see a stumble by the Vols on Saturday. This coaching staff will make sure that nobody is looking ahead to the trip to Oxford. A slip up would be a huge disaster for Kiffin and the Vols. They will be ready. And they will win. Handily.
Tennessee 38 Memphis 10
All times are Eastern.
- South Carolina at Arkansas • 12:21pm
- Tennessee Tech at Georgia • 1:00p
- Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky • 1:00pm
- Furman at Auburn • 1:30pm
- LSU at Alabama • 3:30pm
- Washington at UCLA • 3:30pm
- Troy at Western Kentucky • 5:00pm
- Vanderbilt at Florida • 7:15pm
- Northern Arizona at Ole Miss • 7:30pm
- Ohio at Buffalo • 7:00pm Tuesday Nov 10
All times are Eastern.
- South Carolina at Arkansas • 12:21pm • SEC Network/ESPN Regional
- Tennessee Tech at Georgia • 1:00p • PPV
- Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky • 1:00pm • PPV
- Furman at Auburn • 1:30pm • PPV
- LSU at Alabama • 3:30pm • CBS
- Memphis at Tennessee • 7:00pm • ESPNU
- Vanderbilt at Florida • 7:15pm • ESPN or ESPN2
- Northern Arizona at Ole Miss • 7:30pm • Comcast Sports Southeast