SEASON OF SUCCESS LOOMS FOR TIGERS
The 2001 Tigers football season will be remembered as a rebuilding year by those Memphians who hold Conference USA football close to their hearts. After walking away from the gridiron with a loosing record of 5 wins and 6 losses at the hands of Cincinnati Bearcats at Liberty Bowl by a final score of 36 - 34 the Tigers had a better understanding of what it will take to win games.
ÒI feel if we can compete a full game with special teams, defense and offense playing together and put a complete game together than weÕll be fine,Ó says Wade Smith a senior offensive tackle from Dallas, Texas. ÒItÕs really the small things that enhance the chance of big things happening.Ó
For big things to happen in the 2002 season the Tigers may be hard-pressed not to showcase their new and improved potent offensive game which is coming along like a young Tiger Cat growing bigger, faster, and stronger while sprinting through the wild kingdom. Even the coaching staff is impressed with the players who are making to commitment to U of M football. ÒWe have come 100 miles from a talent level at skill positions on offense to the point where we are going to be the kind of team now I think that can strike at any time,Ó said Head Coach Tommy West with the eye of a tiger.
In fact, coach West is using his defensive expertise and prowess to enhance this Tiger football team on both sides of the ball and if all goes right the system will begin to pay off against Murray State when the pig skin is kicked off into the sky inside the Liberty Bowl.
ÒWeÕre a much more explosive offensive team right now than probably any I've been around. Defensively were inexperienced but I think were talented,Ó says West.
The elusive dream of earning a bowl appearance will be an ongoing conversation throughout the season for University of Memphis football Tigers. As far as players are concerned if they take care of business on the field then the bowl game will be the icing on the cake of success. ÒIÕm more excited about this season than any season in the past and I think this year will be the year,Ó says Wade Smith.
The so-called season tone-setting game against Murray State will be a great opportunity for Memphis to build momentum and prove those wrong who are unsold on the Tigers. The contest is a home game for Memphis which is a plus. Murray State finished the 2001 season with a record of 4 wins and 6 losses and will compete this season without 13 lettermen from last year. If any team is favored it must be U of M and if this is the case Memphis must hold serve and get the job done on both sides of the ball to be successful.
Coach West maintains this years Tigers have more confidence, and even a swagger as they walk around campus, workouts, and the weight room. ÒI feel a lot more confidence about our team. And when you ask around I think weÕve got a little bit more respect within this league this year than weÕve had,Ó says West.
Tigers football fans will get an opportunity to watch U of M play at least two television games this season. The first so-called TV game will be on Saturday, September 7th when the Tigers travel to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Rebels from Ole Miss. This contest will be televised regionally by Jefferson Pilot Sports whom as you may know carries several SEC College football games annually. Apparently, the game will be scheduled to air around 11:30 a.m. check your local listings for details.
Another so-called TV game will be payed here at the Liberty Bowl as U of M plays host to the Visiting Defending Conference USA Champion University of Louisville cardinal. The Louisville game will be carried by ESPN2 on Tuesday, October 8th at 7 p.m. Check your local cable provider for particulars as it relates to the dates and times of Tigers football during the 2002 CUSA Season.
For Coach Tommy West and the 2002 University of Memphis Football Tigers the season opener canÕt come soon enough. ÒWeÕre excited, I canÕt wait to get started and get out on the field and do what we love to do.Ó