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2008 Memphis Preview - Offense
Memphis WR Maurice Jones
Memphis WR Maurice Jones
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 2, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Memphis Tiger Offense

Memphis Tigers

Preview 2008 - Offense

- 2008 CFN Memphis Preview | 2008 Memphis Offense
- 2008 Memphis Defense | 2008 Memphis Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Memphis Preview | 2006 CFN Memphis Preview

What you need to know: The Tigers 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.

Returning Leaders
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 offense: 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 the line
Weakness of the offense: Inexperience at quarterback, the running game

Quarterbacks

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 picks.
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 go.
Rating: 5.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: 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 USA.
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 high school.
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.
Rating: 5

Receivers

Projected Starters: 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 on handoffs.

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 system.

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 favorable mismatches.
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.
Rating: 7.5

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: 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 protectors.

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, 290-pound senior
Philip Beliles, 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.
Rating: 6

  










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