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A first glimpse at Memphis Tiger football in 2011

 

The Tiger faithful got a preview of what was to come for the 2011 football season at the annual Blue-Gray Game in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Ryne E. Hancock
Special to the Tri-State Defender

After what was a trying 2010 season in which the University of Memphis football team finished 1-11 overall and 0-8 in Conference USA play, the Tiger faithful this past Saturday afternoon (April 16) got a preview of what was to come for the 2011 football season at the annual Blue-Gray Game in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

 
The University of Memphis Tigers lined up for the annual Blue-Gray Game last Saturday, and the story of the day was defense. (Photo by BrieLynne Campbell)

In the 122-play intrasquad scrimmage, Tiger fans got a firsthand look at quarterbacks Andy Summerlin and Will Gilchrist, who will be competing for the starting QB job after Ryan Williams left the program in March.

A redshirt sophomore from Apoka, Fla., Summerlin completed 16-of-27 pass attempts for 269 yards and three touchdowns while throwing one interception in the scrimmage. His redshirt sophomore counterpart Gilchrist completed 10-of-17 pass attempts for 93 yards.

Standout running back Jerrell Rhodes wowed Tiger fans with his speed, rushing for 101 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. The Durham, N. C. native is expected to be the focal point of the Tiger offense in 2011.

But the story of the day was the play of the defense, which last season allowed 39.8 points, good for 117th among Division 1-A teams.

Junior defensive lineman Dontari Poe had a field day during the scrimmage, collecting two QB sacks, two tackles, and a fumble recovery. Along with Poe, another lineman, Daniel Thomas had an impressive showing for the unit, collecting six tackles, including three tackles for loss and two QB sacks.

After the scrimmage, both Rhodes and Poe were honored as Blue-Gray Game MVPs, with Rhodes earning the honors for the offense and Poe receiving honors for the defense.

The Tigers will open the 100th season of Tiger football Sept. 1st when they welcome the Mississippi State Bulldogs to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. This will be the second straight season the Tigers have opened against MSU and will be looking to break an 11-game losing streak in the series against the Bulldogs that dates back to 1994.

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