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Saturday, May 25, 2024

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TIGER FOOTBALL: After emotional opener, Tigers seek to avoid letdown against Southern

Terry Davis

Still riding an emotional high from the 15-10 win over Ole Miss last week, the Memphis Tigers will have to focus on the opponent next up – The Southern Jaguars will play their first game ever against the Tigers.

Hailing from the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), the Jaguars are coming off a very disappointing 24-38 loss at McNeese State. Southern played two quarterbacks against McNeese State: Glendon McDaniel and Ladarius Skelton. But the Southern offense was its own worst enemy, failing to recover five of six fumbles. Those errors offset the fact that Southern had more total yards than McNeese State, 342 to 303.

“We have to value the football. We have to cut down on our penalties,” said Southern Head Coach Dawson Odums during his weekly conference call. “We have to execute at a higher rate. If we can do those things against a very talented (Memphis) football team . . . .our hands will be full, but I think we will play a lot better.”

Despite being heavily favored to win, Memphis Head Coach Mike Norvell and his coaching staff are not taking Southern lightly. They have emphasized that if they don’t give them the respect that they deserve, they may find themselves in a very bad situation. The Tennessee Vols’ stunning loss to Georgia State last week is proof of that. Memphis defeated Georgia State handily last season.

The Tigers will be without their most prolific player in Patrick Taylor. Taylor was hurt late in the Ole Miss game and has been ruled out for Saturday. Taylor is the only injury that has been confirmed to miss this week.

The Tigers will rely on redshirt freshman Kenny Gainwell. Gainwell’s number was called on eight straight plays near the end of the Ole Miss game to help secure the victory. Former Whitehaven player Kylan Watkins and Memphis East’s Timothy Taylor number will be called upon more this week in the absence of Taylor.

The Memphis defense will set out to prove that last week’s effort in containing Ole Miss was not a fluke and this will be a unit that will continue to improve each week.

“Bryce Huff was consistent and he was impactful,” said Tigers defensive coordinator Adam Fuller. “He played with great effort. We always preach to our guys with team success come individual recognition.”

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CT. The game can be seen on WMC-TV in Memphis.

SIDE NOTE:  This is the first game in recent memory that a visiting band had more media credential requests than the team. Southern University’s marching band, known as the  Human Jukebox, has electrified fans all across the world. Normally, the Memphis band performs at halftime, don’t be surprised if the Tigers marching band yields its time to Southern.

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