QB Danny Wimprine (PHOTO CREDIT - Troy Glasgow)

2002 Statistics

Coach: Tommy West
8-15, 2 years
2002 Record: 3-9
at Mississippi LOST 16-38
at Southern Miss LOST 7-33
at UAB LOST 17-31
at Cincinnati LOST 10-48
at South Florida LOST 28-31
ARMY WON 38-10
at TCU LOST 20-27

2002 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2003 Outlook

Is there a more schizophrenic program in Conference USA than the Memphis Tigers? For years, the Tigers fielded top-notch defenses and always seemed to lose big games by 17-10 or 13-7 scores. Now as West tries to put his stamp on the program and lead the Tigers to their first bowl game in more than three decades, the reverse is true. In 2002, Memphis scored more points in a season that it had since 1992, but the Tigers couldn't stop anybody. The result was a lot of close, high-scoring losses and another winter of frustration for Memphis fans. West, who as the Tigers' defensive coordinator in 2000 led the Tigers to the No. 1-ranked rushing defense in the nation, will try to fix the problems by turning to a noted defensive guru. Veteran coordinator Joe Lee Dunn is back for his second go-round with the Tigers, and he'll bring with him the unpredictable, blitz-happy style that earned a reputation for wizardry in the Southeastern Conference.

Will the result be a more even Memphis team that earns its first bowl bid since 1971? It's a possibility, although the Tigers lost more lettermen than any team in Conference USA. Memphis should be able to score points. In Wimprine, the Tigers have a proven quarterback who can make plays in the passing game. In Williams, the Tigers have one of the better young backs in C-USA. The Tigers have a couple of potential all-stars in the receiving corps in White and Gideon.

The big questions about the offense rest with the offensive line, where only one starter returns and eight veteran players must be replaced. If Memphis can't protect Wimprine, it could be another disappointing season in Elvis-land. Considering Memphis held only three of 12 opponent to less than 26 points, there is plenty of room to improve on defense. But Dunn inherits a fair amount of talent and depth, and there is no reason to believe the Tigers won't be better. Hill, switching from linebacker, could emerge as a dominating pass rusher at defensive end. The Tigers would get a boost if Means controls his weight and controls the middle of the field. If Means can make a contribution, Memphis could be tough to run against. If his career to this point is a predictor of future performance, though, it probably wouldn't be wise to count on Means. The play of the line will be crucial to Dunn's scheme, which no longer is so unconventional because other coaches have copied it. Most recently at Mississippi State, Dunn's defenses were outstanding when the Bulldogs had quality defensive linemen to pressure quarterbacks and control the running lanes. When the depth up front dried up, though, offenses exploited Dunn's gambling style for big plays. Whether that happens to Memphis or not probably will be determined by the big guys up front. If they are average, Memphis' defense probably will be average, too.

Behind them, all three starting linebackers are back for Dunn to work with, and there's some good talent in the secondary in Johnson and Collins.

With light nonconference games against Tennessee Tech and Arkansas State, in addition to the annual games against Ole Miss and Mississippi State, Memphis has a manageable schedule. A 3-1 mark in those games would be a big boost to bowl hopes. In C-USA, the Tigers don't play defending league champ TCU and get East Carolina, Cincinnati, South Florida and UAB - which has beaten the Tigers three consecutive seasons - at home. Road trips to Southern Miss and Tulane will be tough. If the Tigers take care of their home games - they have seven - and improve their turnover ration (minus-14), there could be some serious celebrating on Beale Street in December.

Projected 2003 record: 4-8
LB Derrick Ballard (PHOTO CREDIT - Troy Glasgow)
QB - 3.5 DL - 2
RB - 3 LB - 3
WR - 2.5 DB - 3.5
OL - 1 ..

Passing: Danny Wimprine, 435-235-18, 2820 yds., 23 TD

Rushing: DeAngelo Williams, 103 att., 684 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: Tavares Gideon, 42 rec., 466 yds., 8 TD

Scoring: Stephen Gostkowski, 9-14 FG, 32-37 PAT, 59 pts.

Punting: Danny Wimprine, 19 punts, 38.3 avg.

Kicking: Stephen Gostkowski, 9-14 FG, 32-37 PAT, 59 pts.

Tackles: Derrick Ballard, 99 tot., 76 solo

Sacks: Treveco Lucas, 4 sacks

Interceptions: O.C. Collins, 3 for 83 yds.

Kickoff returns: DeAngelo Williams, 18 ret., 23.3 avg.

Punt returns: Darron White, 36 ret., 8.4 avg.


OFFENSE: Joe Gerda-OG, Donald Marshall-OT, Wade Smith-OT, Jimond Pugh-C, Antoine Harden-WR, Travis Anglin-WR, Dante Brown-RB
DEFENSE: Tony Brown-DE, Henry Washington-DB, James Gaither-P

written by Tim Stephens

For years, the offense stumbled, fumbled and generally put good Memphis defenses in terrible positions. That has changed under third-year head coach Tommy West, and in 2002 the Tigers scored more points than any Memphis team in a decade. The catalyst was the passing of quarterback Danny Wimprine, now a junior, who already ranks among the school's all-time leaders in 37 different record categories, including 14 new marks. His 4,149 career passing yards rank third all-time. With Wimprine, though, things can be feast or famine: He threw five TD passes in a victory over Murray State, but followed that the next week with five interceptions against Mississippi State. Wimprine is stocky and hard to bring down, but he's not much of a threat to run and he can be prone to interceptions. He has good arm strength and generally makes solid decisions, although he occasionally forces passes into coverage when pressured and must cut down on his interceptions if the Tigers are going to post a winning record.

Junior Bobby Robison and redshirt freshman Patrick Byrne are the backups, but neither has game experience. If Wimprine goes out, the Tigers could be in trouble.

Memphis has one of the better running backs in Conference USA. DeAngelo Williams burst onto the scene by earning C-USA All-Freshman honors. Williams rushed for 684 yards and five touchdowns, despite missing several games because of injuries. Williams had 100-yard rushing games against Murray State and Tulane. He has the speed to break long runs and is big enough to be durable. The Tigers also are excited about the addition of LSU transfer Derron Parquet, who was one of the top recruits in Louisiana a few years ago. Parquet will give the Tigers another breakaway factor and also should be able to make a significant impact as a receiver out of the backfield on third downs. Memphis returns only one starter, junior Darron White at wide receiver. Senior Tavares Gideon caught 42 passes for 466 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns, and now he'll get the chance to be a full-time starter. So far, he's been solid, but he needs to take his game up a notch to be considered one of C-USA's elite receivers. White has star potential, too, after catching 40 passes for 343 yards and two TDs. He is reliable and is the receiver Wimprine often turns to on third downs. The Tigers are counting on LaDarius Price, Tavarious Davis, Anthony Johnson and Von Webb to become solid backups. Webb is one of the fastest players on the team but so far in his career has not become the consistent threat the Tigers need. Memphis' offensive line gets an overhaul with only two of the top 10 on the two-deep returning. Junior left guard Andrew Handy is the only returning starter. Coming out of spring practice, five of Memphis' top 10 linemen have never taken a snap at the Division I-A level. Memphis needs immediate impact from junior-college transfers Bobby Garafolo, David Davis and Jason Matthews. Gene Frederic, the team's deep snapper the past two seasons, is expected to emerge as perhaps the team's best lineman. He'll take over for all-conference center Jimond Pugh. The Tigers essentially are starting over up front, so expect some miscues and blown assignments. If Memphis fans shrug off the prospect that this inexperience is a fatal flaw, all they need to do is remember the poundings Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone took behind a patchwork line last season. Wimprine is equally immobile and could be in for a season-long beating if the Tigers' line doesn't gel early.


TB DeAngelo Williams (PHOTO CREDIT - Troy Glasgow)


Returning Starters in bold
QB Danny Wimprine-Jr Bobby Robison-Jr
TB DeAngelo Williams-So Derron Parquet-Jr
WR Tavares Gideon-Sr Darron White-Jr
WR Maurice Avery-So LaDarius Price-r
WR Darren Garcia-Sr Von Webb-Jr
TE John Doucette-So LaKendus Cole-Fr
OT Jeremy Rone-Jr Willie Henderson-Fr
OG Andrew Handy-Jr Blake Butler-Fr
C Gene Frederic-Jr Bobby Garafolo-Jr
OG Jason Matthews-Jr ..
OT Jason Johnson-Jr David Davis-Jr
K Stephen Gostkowski-So ..



written by Tim Stephens

Dunn's blitzing style should be a nice fit with several veterans back on the Memphis front seven. The Tigers have three starters back on the line, and should get a boost from the return of former Parade All-American Albert Means after a year away from the game to improve his academics. Means, the Alabama transfer whose recruitment helped land the Tide on probation, is an immense talent (literally, listed at 350 pounds although he might be bigger than that) who could be a difference maker if he shows up for fall practice in shape. Tackles Kenyun Glover and Eric Taylor and end Trevco Lucas are back, too. They're solid, but probably won't show up on anyone's postseason all-conference team.

Watch out for Shaka Hill, who moves from linebacker to end in Dunn's scheme. Hill is an old-school football player - he just finds way to be around the ball. Even though he might be a little undersized on the line, his quickness and tenacity should make him one of the Tigers' best players.

Returning starters Derrick Ballard - an all-league pick - and Greg Harper on the outside and Coot Terry on the inside give the Tigers solid linebackers. All have good speed and instincts. Injuries to Terry and Harper contributed to Memphis' struggles against the run (197 ypg). If they stay healthy, Memphis' starting linebackers might be the second-best in the league behind the group at Southern Mississippi.

Free safety O.C. Collins and cornerback Cameron Essex are veterans in the secondary. Collins could rank among the best safeties in the nation before his career is over. He ranked fifth among all Division I-A freshmen with 68 tackles. He also added a team-high three interceptions but that statistic shows more about the Tigers' overall lack of interceptions than it does about Collins' talent. Memphis gets a big boost from the return of rover Derron Johnson, who missed all of 2002 with an injury. Johnson was a highly recruited player coming out of high school and has the size and speed to match up with bigger receivers while also providing good run support. In Dunn's scheme, Johnson will line up all over the field and likely will get many opportunities to blitz quarterbacks. When he gets to them, he's a big hitter.


LB Greg Harper (PHOTO CREDIT - Troy Glasgow)


Returning Starters in bold
DE Marcus West-So Haracio Colen-Fr
DT Albert Means-Jr Kenyun Glover-Jr
DT Eric Taylor-Sr Greg Billingslea-So
DE Treveco Lucas-Sr LaVale Washington-So
SLB Greg Harper-Sr Robert Douglas-Jr
MLB Shaka Hill-Sr Coot Terry-Sr
WLB Derrick Ballard-Sr Tim Goodwell-So
CB Cameron Essex-Jr Tristan Thomas-Jr
CB Lee Hayes-Jr Olen Whitely-Fr
ROV Scott Vogel-Jr Lionel Pieh-Jr
FS O.C. Collins-So Wesley Smith-Fr
P Brandon Roberson-Jr ..




Place-kicker Stephen Gostkowski is back after making nine out of 14 kicks, but he is being pushed by Alabama transfer Danny Haynes, who has a better leg but missed all of last season with an injury. Junior-college transfer Brian Roberson is expected to win the starting punter job over quarterbacks Byrne and Wimprine. However, with Byrne and Wimprine in the game, it gives the Tigers the intriguing possibility of fakes. DeAngelo Williams and Darron White are dangerous return men with excellent speed and vision.