What bettors need to know: Marshall at Memphis
Memphis player killed on Sunday
Taylor Bradford, a Memphis defensive lineman, was shot Sunday night as he got into his car outside of his dormitory. The 21-year-old was later pronounced dead at a local hospital, and his fellow students and teammates are said to be devastated at the loss.
"Our entire football team is deeply saddened by the loss of Taylor," said head coach Tommy West on the team’s website. "He was well respected and a popular member of our team. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
Bradford transferred to Memphis after playing two seasons at Samford University in Alabama. He played at Antioch High School, where he was named all-region and was the team’s defensive line MVP. He never made an appearance for the Tigers.
Members of the Memphis University athletic department met for several hours this morning to decide if Tuesday’s game should be postponed, but eventually concluded it would be best to go ahead with the nationally televised matchup.
A moment of silence will be held in Bradford’s honor ahead of the 7 p.m. kickoff.
Injuries hampering Marshall
An injury crisis of epic proportions has severely hampered Marshall’s season and is a big reason for its 0-4 start. At times this season the Thundering Herd have been without ten key starters, with the defense the worst affected area.
"We do look a little bit like a M.A.S.H. unit," coach Mark Snyder told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal ahead of Tuesday night's meeting with the University of Memphis. "The injury bug really stung us."
The problems began in August when junior defensive end and reigning C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Albert McClellan tore ligaments in his left knee – ruling him out for the season.
The problem got a whole lot worse once the season started.
Defensive tackle Montel Glasco is out for the season with knee problems, one of five defensive starters who have missed time this year. Defensive end John Jacobs, linebacker Josh Johnson, defensive tackle Shane Moore and safety Aaron Johnson complete that list.
Not surprisingly, Marshall ranks next to last in the nation in rushing defense and 115th in scoring defense. The Herd are allowing 263 yards on the ground and 41.8 points per game.
Tigers reeling from second-half collapse
Memphis will be looking for a vast improvement in the second half on Tuesday after they gave up 29 points in the final two quarters against Arkansas State last week. Memphis took a 31-6 halftime lead in that game before allowing ASU to rally to a 35-31 victory.
"It hurts right now," Memphis coach Tommy West told the Charleston Gazette after the game. "It ought to hurt. This is two games now (a 23-21 loss to Mississippi being the other) we have given away."
The Tigers managed just 98 total yards and three first downs in the second half against ASU, and the loss took them to 1-3 for the season.
Thursday’s game was a makeup of a contest postponed by persistent lightning earlier this month, meaning the Tigers will play their third game in just 11 days when they face Marshall.
Pre-snap penalties hurt Herd
A considerable number of Marshall’s offensive problems this season stem from constantlt taking false-start penalties. The Herd have given up 12 such flags in just four games – six coming in the 40-14 loss to the University of Cincinnati alone.
"We've talked about pre-snap fouls," Marshall coach Mark Snyder told the Charleston Daily Mail. "We talked about them again right before we took the field at Cincinnati. I went to Larry (offensive coordinator Larry Kueck), I went to Mike Cummings (offensive line coach) and I went to that offensive line.
"I was warned that down in that end zone, just like Central Florida, just like Tennessee, just like Miami, when you get down in that bowl end, teams have a tendency to false start. We had them down there and, then, came down to the other end and had some there," added Snyder.
The Marshall offense now ranks 67th in the nation with an average 380 yards and 18.8 points per game this season.
Re: Tuesday Football
Grieving Memphis will play Marshall on Tuesday despite death of teammate
October 1, 2007
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -After a day of mourning the death of teammate Taylor Bradford, the Memphis Tigers will take on Marshall as planned Tuesday night.
``There's going to be a 3 1/2-hour block where we have to have our minds on business, as hard as it is,'' Memphis coach Tommy West said.
Bradford, a 21-year-old defensive lineman, was shot to death Sunday night, approximately three hours after Memphis finished practice. West met with athletic director R.C. Johnson before letting the team vote Monday morning on whether to play the scheduled game against Marshall.
The decision was unanimous.
``I think we've got to do a good job with them,'' West said ``They know that they made that decision. Can we do that? We'll see. I don't know.''
The university is providing counselors for the Tigers, who stayed together Monday night. West said the players asked to be left alone to grieve Bradford, who was popular with teammates and fellow students.
``Our hearts and prayers go out to the young man's family and the Memphis community for this tragedy,'' Marshall officials said in a statement. ``It's just a terrible circumstance. We hope the best for them through a tough time.''
Bradford, a nose guard, had recently lost 25 pounds with the hope of earning playing time by switching to fullback.
A moment of silence will be observed before Tuesday's game.
``This to me is the most tragic way that you could ever lose a teammate,'' West said. ``There was no reason for this.''
Re: Tuesday Football
Marshall (0-4) at Memphis (1-3)
The Sports Network
FACTS & STATS: Site: Liberty Bowl (62,380) -- Memphis, Tennessee. Television:ESPN2. Home Record: Marshall 0-2, Memphis 1-1. Away Record: Marshall 0-2, Memphis 0-2. Neutral Record: Marshall 0-0, Memphis 0-0. Conference Record: Marshall 0-0, Memphis 0-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The Marshall Thundering Herd will once again attempt to get into the win column for the first time this season, as they invade the Liberty Bowl this Tuesday to do battle with the Memphis Tigers in Conference USA play. It has been a rough start to the season for Marshall, to say the least, as it has dropped all four of its games, including a 48-35 setback to Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) member New Hampshire. Most recently, the team kicked off a three-game road swing with a 40-14 loss at Cincinnati on September 22nd. The Herd, which is 0-4 for the first time since 1969, now turns its focus to C-USA play, where it posted an even 4-4 mark a year ago. As for Memphis, it hasn't fared much better this season, winning just one of its four games, with that lone victory coming over Football Championship Subdivision member Jacksonville State (35-14). The Tigers were last in play this past Thursday, when they suffered a 35-31 setback at Arkansas State. The team has played one league game already, a 56-20 beating at the hands of UCF. Memphis and Marshall have split two prior meetings between one another, with the Herd posting a 41-27 decision in last season's encounter.
Marshall enters the game averaging a mediocre 18.8 ppg mainly because of its lack of a running game, as it is gaining just 84.8 ypg on the ground thus far. The air attack however, has been highly successful for the Herd, which is passing for 295.2 total ypg. In the team's last game, Marshall racked up 337 yards of total offense, including 257 via the pass, but it wasn't nearly enough in a 40-14 setback to Cincinnati. Quarterback Bernard Morris did all that he could to help the Herd, throwing for 252 yards and two scores and rushing for 34 yards on 11 carries. Despite the team's slow start, Morris has put forth a solid campaign thus far, as he is completing an efficient 67.7 percent of his throws for 1,087 yards, with seven touchdowns against four interceptions. Darius Passmore and Cody Slate have certainly benefited from effectiveness of the passing game, and they have combined for 47 catches, 636 receiving yards and five touchdowns this season. Against Cincinnati, Passmore pulled down seven balls for 106 yards and a score, while Slate finished with six catches for 49 yards. As for the ground game, Darius Marshall is averaging an impressive 6.6 yards per carry, but since the team hasn't shown much of a commitment to running the ball, he has just 186 yards on the season.
Defensively, Marshall has been simply awful this season, giving up a whopping 41.8 ppg and 447.5 total ypg. The Herd has been especially bad against the run, surrendering 263.0 ypg on the ground and 13 touchdowns thus far. Creating big plays has also been a problem for this unit, which has forced just two turnovers and five sacks through four games. In its last game, Marshall was torched by Cincinnati for 436 total yards, including 217 on the ground. The defense allowed Cincinnati to convert on 20-of-27 pass attempts, and it failed to force a single turnover in the setback. C.J. Spillman paced the squad with 10 tackles, giving a team-high 47 stops for the year.
The Tigers have done a solid job on the offensive side of the ball this season, as they are putting out 26.8 ppg and 412.5 total ypg. The team has found success on the ground (153.8 ypg), but has thrived through the air, passing for 258.8 ypg. On Thursday, Memphis racked up 395 total yards of offense and scored 31 first-half points, but they were completely shutdown in the second half of a 35-31 setback to Arkansas State. Martin Hankins had a rough game under center in the loss, as he completed just 10-of-21 pass attempts for 119 yards. It was clearly one of the worst effort of the season by Hankins, who has completed 61.1 percent of his tosses for 832 yards through four games. He has thrown five touchdowns against the same amount of interceptions. Maurice Jones caught three balls for 71 yards against Arkansas State and he has been Hankins' favorite target with 14 receptions and 251 receiving yards for the year. T.J. Pitts and Joseph Doss have shared the tailback duties for Memphis and they have combined for 327 rushing yards thus far. Doss, who has missed some time due to injury, carried 17 times for 50 yards and a score on Thursday, while Pitts went for 49 yards on 11 attempts.
Much like their opponent in this game, the Tigers haven't found a way to slow down their foes this season, allowing 32.0 ppg and 414.2 total ypg. The defense has struggled against both the pass (243.0 ypg) and run (171.2 ypg), although the unit does have 10 forced turnovers to its credit. In the team's last game, Memphis held Arkansas State to just six points in the first half, but much like its offense, it collapsed in the second half of the 35-31 setback. The Tigers gave up 389 total yards in the loss and allowed Arkansas State to convert on 11-of-17 third down attempts. On a positive note, the defense did manage to force two turnovers, including one which resulted in an 88-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Freddie Barnett. Greg Terrell also put forth a decent effort in the loss, as he posted nine tackles and a forced fumble. For the year, Jake Kasser leads Memphis in stops with 28, and he also has recovered a pair of fumbles.
Neither team has had much success this season and that could be contributed to each squad's poor defense. Memphis though, has had more success on the offensive side of ball this season. In addition, emotions from the recent death of backup Taylor Bradford could play into the Tigers' favor here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Memphis 31, Marshall 21