Spring football games are here, with the majority of the Ohio Valley teams holding their games this weekend. Since scores really don’t matter for these glorified scrimmages, the film recorded will influence the depth charts for the summer. We decided to let you in on what we will be watching.
Austin Peay April 20 11 a.m.
1) Position to Watch: Quarterback
Quarterback production was scarce last season for the Governors and coming into the spring showcase there are only two left on the team, Jacob Sexton and walk-on Timarious Mitchell. Sexton did sustain a thigh injury at a scrimmage last Saturday, which would leave the reps for the walk on. This has the potential of the opening day QB not being on campus yet.
Very rarely do we recommend watching the special teams, but for the Govs the kicking last season was some of the worse in the FCS. Converting 33% of field goals makes the few chances the kickers get during the game, very very important.
1) Player to Watch: Cody Matthews
The Golden Eagles are looking for a new playmaker on the outside after DaRick Rogers left for the NFL. Matthews was second the team in receptions last season and has been the go to receiver for QB Darian Stone during spring practices.
The saying “Defense wins championships” was something forgotten by Tennessee Tech last season posting the 7th worst in total defense and second to last in pass defense efficiency. There was plenty of youth for the Golden Eagles and with that gowing pains are expected.
1) Player to watch: Kyle Snyder
It was supposed to be Snyder’s Redhawks last season when the junior transferred into the program but that was delayed as he was injured just nine days into camp. The QB is will being looking to upgrade the last place throwing team, which would compliment the option oriented Redhawks very well.
2) Running Backs
When you have an option team like the Redhawks, the playing time is pretty much who is fresh at the moment the play is signaled in. SEMO knows what they are and have multiple backs to use. But which player will be the first down back, that could be decided with a breakout performance Saturday.
1) Player to Watch: Sam Small
Small was coming off a tremendous freshmen season in which the linebacker led the Racers with 115 tackles, things were looking up. Then Small tore his ACL last season and is looking to bounce back. In the new defensive scheme, linebackers will be asked to cover and pressure making the return of Small very key.
2) Quarterback battle
The graduation of Casey Brockman has left a huge role to fill for the “Hatch Attack” especially with how expected starter KD Humphries has played in two spring scrimmages (multiple interceptions in each). The door has been left off for Parks Frazier and South Alabama transfer C.J. Bennett to take over the reigns.
1) Player to Watch: Stephen Godbolt III
If you haven’t heard of the cornerback by now, start paying attention. Godbolt is already drawing comparisions to a former TSU Tiger that now plays in the NFL and it is for good reason. You have to wonder how much better he gets entering his junior season.
The whole starting defense returns for the Tigers and for a team that seemed to be a lock for a FCS playoff berth, it is scary. TSU had the best defense last season in the OVC in yards allowed, and 2nd best in points allowed.
Jacksonville State’s is already completed. Here’s what we saw.
1) Player to Watch:TBD
This might sound mean but its true and the Skyhawks know it (thus why I’ll be there live). They are looking to replace every key position on the offense thanks to graduation. Most coaching staffs are fine to replace one or two, but no QB, no RB and no WRs (Jeremy Butler is returning) are hard to overcome and this is why spring practices are so important.
2) Pass Defense
We are expecting a lot of passing during the spring game, as Coach Simpson searches for his new QB and WRs and that will allow the defense to get the reps it needs. The Skyhawks were the second to worst passing defense in the conference.
1) Player to Watch: Jared McClain
McClain was the other half of the Colonel quarterback duo that was tremendous last season. But the job is now all McClain’s who was primarily the running QB is now going to use his arm. The junior has the potential to do so for coach Dean Hood and will be throwing to new targets as well.
2) Running back battle
One thing Eastern Kentucky football is know for is its ground game, and the graduation of Matt Denham leaves the Colonels missing 61% of their ground production. The names being floated out of Richmond are sophomores J.J. Jude and Jared Sanders to become the new Colonel workhorse.
1) Player to Watch: Jimmy Garoppolo
Garoppolo was outshined by a fellow Panther last season but it was the young junior that shocked the OVC landscape. He lead the OVC in passing last season and is in line to do even more in year two under Head Coach Dino Babers.
2) Defensive Line
The Panthers are looking to replace a first team All-OVC defensive lineman but more importantly are looking to replace the entire starting line, a total of 17.5 sacks! This is the “weakest” part for EIU but they return all their linebackers.