Preview 2008 - Offense
2008 CFN Memphis Preview
2008 Memphis Depth
2007 CFN Memphis Preview
2006 CFN Memphis
What you need to know:
boast a veteran offensive line that believes it can be the most
dominant in the West era. Exactly who the group will be
blocking for has yet to be determined. Underappreciated QB
Martin Hankins needs to be replaced after throwing 43 touchdowns
over the last two seasons. Since the strength of the team is at
wide receiver, the staff must uncover an able distributor.
Versatile Matt Malouf brings an interesting blend of run and
pass. The wild card, however, is JUCO transfer Arkelon Hall, a
former Washington State signee and one of the highest-rated
pocket passers of 2005. The running game has been ravaged by
graduations, defections, and injuries, creating opportunities
for transfer Curtis Steele, sophomore Jeremy Longstreet, and
redshirt freshman Mike Davis.
Passing: Will Hudgens
52-104, 587 yds, 5 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: T.J. Pitts
106 carries, 481 yds, 1 TD
Receiving: Duke Calhoun
62 catches, 890 yds, 5 TD
Star of the
Junior WR Duke Calhoun
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB
Matt Malouf or junior Arkelon Hall
Unsung star on the rise: Junior G Malcom Rawls
Best pro prospect: Calhoun
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Calhoun, 2) Junior WR
Carlos Singleton, 3) Senior T Brandon Pearce
Strength of the offense: The receivers, the right side of
Weakness of the offense: Inexperience at quarterback, the
Projected Starter: All eyes will be on the race to
replace Martin Hankins, who helped make the passing attack go
over the last two years. The early edge goes to sophomore
Matt Malouf, the most experienced and versatile contender to
take part in spring. At 6-3 and 212 pounds, he has the 4.5
speed and toughness to hurt defenses with his legs as well as
his arm. As a short yardage option on third and fourth downs,
Malouf ran 38 times for 166 yards and three touchdowns, adding
the first two touchdown passes on his career. A nice fit for
Clay Helton’s spread offense, he’ll lock down the job if he
proves he can be more than just a situational
Projected Top Reserves: Malouf’s shadow over the
next few months will be junior Arkelon Hall, a transfer
from the College of the Sequoias and a former can’t-miss recruit
of Washington State in 2005. A strong-armed 6-2, 220-pounder,
he’ll remind observers of a faster version of former UAB QB
Darrell Hackney. While still raw, especially with his footwork
and reads, Hall has the advanced passing skills to get the most
out of Memphis’ talented collection of wide receivers.
Watch Out For ... Baseball. A pitcher on the
Tiger baseball team, Will Hudgens is hoping to go pro,
but if he doesn’t, he’ll have a chance to return to the football
team and immediately compete for the job. As a backup last
year, he went 52-of-104 for 587 yards, five touchdowns and no
Strength: Athleticism. Malouf gives the Tiger
offense an added wrinkle with his 4.5 speed and ability to tuck
it and take off. While Hall isn’t a runner, he is elusive and
can escape pressure when the pocket begins to shrink.
Weakness: Proven passers. This will change if
Hudgens gets back in the mix, but for now, there’s no telling
how well Malouf or Hall will perform in an offense that leans
heavily on the forward pass.
Outlook: Considering the program just parted ways
with a reliable two-year starter, the situation under center
isn’t all that bad. Out of Malouf, Hall, or possibly Hudgens, a
quality Conference USA quarterback exists in Memphis. Malouf,
in particular, has a high ceiling provided he continues
progressing as the spark that makes the passing game
The Tigers had better be able to move the ball through the air
because the running game loses Joseph Doss and is moving further
from the days when DeAngelo Williams was on campus. The likely
workhorse is junior T.J. Pitts, but he sat out spring
recovering from a broken ankle that required two surgeries. As
Doss’ backup, he gained 481 yards and scored once on 106
carries, including his first 100-yard day in the regular season
finale with SMU. At 5-10 and 203 pounds, Pitts hits the hole
with authority and won’t be arm tackled. Memphis needs him
healthy before the start of the season.
Projected Top Reserves: Taking advantage of Pitts’
absence in March and April was the complimentary pair of junior
Curtis Steele and redshirt freshman Mike Davis.
Steele is the scatback, a 6-0, 185-pounder from NW Mississippi
Community College that can bounce outside to pick a first down
or become a receiver out of the backfield. Davis, on the other
hand, brings power, a 5-11, 230-pound north-south runner that
lost weight in the offseason to improve his stamina in a
one-back offense. In order to bolster depth at the position,
sophomore Jeremy Longstreet was shifted from linebacker.
He might be slow to adapt to new assignments, but at 6-1 and 200
pounds, he’s got the size needed to handle 10-12 touches a game.
Watch Out For ... QB Matt Malouf to lead the team
in rushing. The Tigers are going to need help on the ground
from other sources, which the elusive Malouf has already shown
he can do. Even when Pitts is healthy, Memphis doesn’t have a
feature back that warrants 20-25 carries a game.
Strength: Pitts. Assuming he’s healthy, Pitts is
the best back that the program has at this time, a two-time
letterwinner that’s no stranger to game action in Conference
Weakness: Proven players. It’s never a good sign
when a unit needs to import players from the other side of the
ball to build depth. Neither Steele nor Davis, the primary
ballcarriers in the spring, was heavily recruited coming out of
Outlook: It’s a good thing the offensive line can
create daylight because the Tigers don’t have a runner that’ll
do it on his own. For a third consecutive season, the offense
is going to lack the balance needed to keep defenses from
sitting back and playing the pass.
When Memphis is playing well this fall, there’s a good chance
the receivers will have a lot to do with it. The offense
returns last year’s top five pass-catchers and an equal number
of players that earned at least honorable mention All-Conference
USA recognition. On the outside, the Tigers will attack
defenses with juniors Duke Calhoun and Carlos
Singleton. Calhoun is one of the league’s most dangerous
deep threats, a 6-4, 195-pounder that led the team with 62
catches for 890 yards and five touchdowns. A terrific
all-around athlete, he runs well and elevates to catch the ball
at its highest point.
Over the course of a year, Singleton went from a raw project to
borderline unstoppable for the passing attack. A 6-8, 215-pound
mismatch for opposing defensive backs, he pulled down 51 balls
for 767 yards and 11 touchdowns. With 4.4 speed and tremendous
quickness in space, there’s no telling how good he can be as he
gets stronger and hones his knowledge of the position.
In the slot for a third straight year is steady senior
Earnest Williams, who was fifth on the team with 33 catches
for 368 yards and five touchdowns. A crisp route runner at 6-0
and 192 pounds, he has good hands and will be used occasionally
When Memphis is using a tight end, senior Brett Russell
will get the call. At 6-3 and 245 pounds, he’s a reliable
target on short routes that caught a career-high 22 passes for
157 yards and two touchdowns.
Projected Top Reserves: Despite starting just a
pair of games at Z receiver, senior Maurice Jones is
coming off a terrific season that saw him make 37 catches for
639 yards and two scores. At 6-4 and 225 pounds, he’s a load to
bring down in the open field and one of the Tigers’ most
dangerous receivers after the catch.
Former Louisville receiver Steven Black, a first cousin
of Terrell Owens, is coming off a solid debut in Memphis, making
42 catches for 477 yards and a touchdown. Another big and
physical target at 6-3 and 213 pounds, he’s lightning quick and
even better prepared for success in his second year in the
Backing up Williams at inside receiver will be 6-3, 218-pound
senior Carlton Robinzine, who returned from a couple of
injury-filled seasons to make 19 grabs for 224 yards and a
touchdown. If he remains healthy, he’ll challenge for more
playing in his final year.
Although he’ll be a backup again in 2008, the Tigers love the
potential of Deven Onarheim, a 6-7, 255-pound sophomore
tight end with the soft hands of a wide receiver.
Watch Out For ... Russell’s production to soar. More
of an H-back than a true tight end, he’ll be a nice, safe target
for the new quarterback, especially with the outside receivers
commanding so much attention.
Strength: Size. My goodness, this is an enormous
corps of receivers that can out muscle and out jump opposing
defensive backs. Not just tall, the Tiger pass-catchers are a
thick group averaging well over 200 pounds and creating
Weakness: Consistency. It’s splitting hairs about
the league’s most dynamic set of receivers, but they still drop
a few too many passes and have temporary lapses when running
routes. Again, they’re minor details rather than the norm.
Outlook: Calhoun is a future pro, and now he has a
supporting cast that can deflect some attention away from him.
This unit will be the best friend of an unproven quarterback
that’ll be looking for all of the help he can get in his first
year on the job.
For the first time in his tenure, Tommy West believes he has a
seasoned offensive line that can control the line of scrimmage.
Leading the way at right tackle is senior Brandon Pearce,
an all-star selection on a line that allowed the fewest sacks in
Conference USA. Now up to 6-6 and 300 pounds, he’s nimble,
athletic, and about to become one of the league’s better pass
Next to Pearce at right guard will be junior Malcom Rawls,
a former Tennessee transfer that earned his first letter a year
ago. At 6-5 and 315 pounds, he has a chance to become the
unit’s most devastating run blocker if he dedicates himself to
the weight room in the offseason.
Anchoring the pivot for a second straight season will be 6-5,
an experienced center that played well in his debut as a
full-timer. A heady lineman that’s quick in tight spaces, he’s
earned three letters at Memphis and can slide over to guard
without skipping a beat.
By far the biggest question mark will be at left tackle, where
senior Brent Todd will attempt to hold off hulking
freshman Ronald Leary and win the job to protect the
quarterback’s blindside. A product of Hinds (Miss.) Community
College, the 6-3, 320-pounder Todd is strong at the point of
attack, but needs to prove he has the quick feet to keep the
quarterback from getting repeatedly bushwhacked.
The Tigers are counting on another former JUCO player, senior
Terrence Echols, to take over at left guard. A 6-3,
307-pound transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College,
he was moved from center last November, making a good first
impression opening holes for Joseph Doss.
Projected Top Reserves: After earning Conference
USA All-Freshman honors last year, sophomore G Dominik Riley
is like having a sixth starter on the team. In fact, the
6-4, 305-pounder started seven games before a rib injury and
Echols’ steady play relegated him to a secondary role. At
worst, Riley will earn another letter, while preparing to take
over the position in 2009.
Senior Michael Denning has played plenty of football at
Memphis, making him the staff’s first option off the bench at
guard. At 6-5 and 305 pounds, he’s far and away the best
overall athlete of the linemen, and has proven to be a more
effective run blocker than pass protector.
The top tackle off the bench will be senior Cody Stubblefield,
a strong 6-4, 305-pounder that earned a letter in his first
season out of Itawamba (Miss.) Community College.
Watch Out For ... Rawls to emerge in his second
season with the Tigers. When a hard-working, bright SEC talent
descends upon Conference USA, he’s capable of dominating,
something Rawls will begin doing now that he has a year of
experience in the vault.
Strength: Pass protection. Long-time offensive
line coach Rick Mallory continues to do an underrated job here,
coaching up an average group of linemen that’s yielded just 37
sacks over the last 37 games.
Weakness: Run blocking. Yes, this element of the
job was a whole lot easier when DeAngelo Williams used to be on
campus. Without a back that can make his own space, the Tigers
have struggled to get a push, blocking for one of the league’s
worst ground games over the last two seasons.
Outlook: While the Tigers should be better in the
trenches, just how much better depends on the development of the
left side of the line. To the right of Beliles, however,
Memphis is set with Pearce at tackle and Rawls at guard.