Memphis Tigers vs Tennessee Volunteers Football Recap
Tennessee 50, Memphis 14
Tennessee Volunteer head coach Derek Dooley was flabbergasted and stunned early in the week of preparation for this past Saturday’s game against the Memphis Tigers.
He shouldn’t have been.
Tennessee ended a four-game losing streak in style, steamrolling Memphis by a 50-14 count at the Liberty Bowl. Freshman quarterback Tyler Bray – given the keys to the Tennessee offense in place of teammate Matt Simms – led the revitalized Vols’ attack, completing 19-of-33 pass attempts for 325 yards and tossing five touchdown passes to five different receivers. The Vols entered the game struggling on offense, having scored more than 20 points only once in their last four games, all of which were SEC losses, but the Tigers’ defense proved to be exactly the elixir Bray and Company needed, as they scored 50 unanswered points and piled up 509 yards of total offense.
Memphis actually struck first, taking a 7-0 first quarter lead when freshman signal-caller Ryan Williams connected with sophomore wide receiver Marcus Rucker on a four-yard touchdown pass. Any upset hopes Memphis may have had, however, were crushed almost immediately thereafter. Tennessee took the ensuing kickoff and promptly went 70 yards on five plays, scoring on Bray’s 10-yard touchdown pass to junior running back Tauren Poole. Freshman kicker Michael Palardy missed the extra-point attempt, but it hardly mattered, as the Vols’ onslaught was on. Tennessee went on to add four more touchdowns and two field goals, taking a 40-7 halftime lead.
Denarius Moore led the Vols’ receiving corps, catching six passes for 103 yards and one touchdown. Poole rushed for one touchdown and 101 yards on 16 carries. Senior running back Gregory Ray finished with 60 yards rushing on 14 carries for the Tigers.
The main story to emerge from this game is that if you ever had any real doubts about the impoverished nature of the Memphis football operation, such questions should be put to rest at this point. Memphis coach Larry Porter is simply failing to find the right answers or make the kinds of adjustments that are needed to turn the ship around.
When the week of preparation was just getting started for this contest, Dooley – the Tennessee boss – was informed by the press corps that the Vols were a 19-point favorite against Memphis. Dooley responded incredulously, expressing his disbelief that such a reality could ever exist for his club, winless in the SEC and under .500 overall. A number of the writers who cover Tennessee and Memphis did believe that the Vols were actually going to double up that point spread against Memphis, and that’s pretty much what happened in a 36-point thumping. Tennessee has had a woeful season, but after crushing the Tigers from Conference USA, it’s clear that the Vols aren’t the most troubled program in their own state.