With new QB under center, Tigers look to rebound after loss
True freshman QB Taylor Reed gets nod to start versus Arkansas State
After suffering another heartbreaking loss in consecutive season openers to the Mississippi State Bulldogs, The University of Memphis Tigers football team (0-1) will try to regroup when they take on Arkansas State this Saturday in Jonesboro, Ark. In the loss to MSU, the Tigers were led by two standout freshmen in that game, quarterback Taylor Reed and running back Artaves Gibson. While Gibson made an impact with 85 yards on 17 carries, it was Reed that caught head coach Larry Porter's attention enough to name him the starter for the game against ASU during his weekly press luncheon.
"This week we'll go with Taylor Reed," Porter said. "I think based on his performance it warranted him being the starter and he just looked poised out there and settled our offense. So his productivity is the reason why he will be starting."
Starting running back Jerrell Rhodes, who rushed six times for 28 yards, was limited in action during last week's contest due to a bone bruise he suffered in the first quarter. Senior wide receiver and running back Billy Foster will replace him in the starting lineup and share the backfield with Gibson.
"Jerrell will be doubtful, but we'll know more on his injury towards the end of the week," Porter said. "Billy will be ready to roll this week. I don't think there will be any problems there, and Artaves will certainly play early and often."
The Tigers' defense will also see changes. After giving up record-setting numbers against MSU in which the Bulldogs amassed over 600 yards of total offense, Porter vowed to make changes all around on the defensive side of the ball before next week's game.
"Defensively, I was disappointed as I went back and watched the film," Porter said. "I know that we had people out of position, but that's still no excuse for missed tackles and giving up big plays. You will see changes on all three levels of defense – defensive line, linebackers and secondary."
With definite changes on the horizon on defense and a new starting quarterback, the Tigers look to focus on Sun Belt Conference rival Arkansas State. The Tigers hold a 27-22-5 all-time record in the series, but the Red Wolves have won the last two meetings. In 2006, ASU won 36-31 after Memphis led 31-6 by halftime. And in 2007, the Red Wolves won on a last second Hail-Mary to defeat the Tigers 26-23. Both teams are used to dramatic finishes in the series, Porter said.
"You don't have to say much when you mention Memphis and Arkansas State," Porter said. "The players pretty much get fired up on their own and I don't anticipate it being any different this year."
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