Thursday games by themselves are somewhat rare in the OVC. Back-to-back Thursday games are almost unheard of…except for this year’s Golden Eagles.
Tennessee Tech will look to become the first Division I team in the nation to get to 2 wins as they play host to North Greenville.
But just getting to 2-0 is an important, and rare milestone as well for the Purple and Gold.
Here’s today’s First Word.
North Greenville at Tennessee Tech
7:00 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
Despite winning 6 straight home openers under head coach Watson Brown, Tennessee Tech hasn’t been 2-0 since 1989. They have a great chance of getting there tonight, as they face Division II North Greenville in Cookeville.
As a far as D-II programs go, North Greenville is a good one. 11-3 last year, dropping out of the Division II playoffs in a tight 28-23 loss to top seeded Delta State, the Crusaders might not be the pushover many are expecting. There’s an OVC connection here too: new head coach Carroll McCray coached at Austin Peay during some of the Governors non-scholarship years, from 2003-06. The Crusaders come in at 0-1, losing a playoff rematch to Albany State in Week 1.
Tennessee Tech got a great outing in Week 1 from QB Tre Lamb (OVC Ball’s Week 1 Unsung Hero) and new WR Da’Rick Rogers (OVC co-newcomer of the week) in a 41-31 win over Hampton. Lamb threw his 2nd 300-yard game of his career, connecting for 339 yards and 4 touchdowns in the win. The Golden Eagles held a decisive halftime advantage before some costly turnovers turned the game into much closer contest in the second half.
In North Greenville’s opening loss, the Crusaders struggled to move the ball, and it’s not likely to get much better against the Golden Eagles. Despite giving up 31 points, TTU only allowed 192 yards of offense by the Pirates in their week 1 win. But Lamb could be up for more of a challenge from the Crusaders defense tonight: North Greenville only allowed 79 yards through the air, and 250 total offensive yards in their Week 1 loss.
As much of the focus was on Rogers, who came through with 3 catches for 75 yards despite limited practice time with his new quarterback, Tremain Hudson was Lamb’s favorite target, with 8 catches for 62 yards, and Zack Zeigler caught only 2 passes, but both for touchdowns. Add a team-high 89 reception yards from Cody Matthews, and it’s clear that Lamb has plenty of options in the passing attack. It’s looking more and more like this could be the deepest receiving corps in the OVC.
The one small question I do have is I’m curious how well these opening matchups are preparing TTU for OVC play. Neither of their opponents the first two weeks have an explosive offense like they’ll see in conference play, although that will change in Week 3 when TTU travels cross county to face the Oregon Ducks. But how much do you really learn from being blown out, anyway?
But if nothing else, another wins could help set the tone for the upcoming season, and give TTU some confidence when conference play does get underway in just a few weeks.