Ah, another OVC media day has come and gone. We’ll have much more extensive previews coming in the future, but for now, we wanted to give you our impressions of today’s OVC Media Day Interviews.
I interviewed four teams, while Tom Via spoke with the other five. We put our initials beside the team for reference.
CB: No shock, the Governors were picked last. They know why they were, but there’s plenty of optimism in the Austin Peay camp behind new head coach Kirby Cannon. Cannon knows a thing or two about turning around struggling programs, and it’s why he believes he got the job. (I agree)
Cannon’s emphasis is special teams and defense. Want AP to score more? Cannon suggests his team give the offense the ball inside the 10. (Although I’m sure he’d take anything on the opponents side of the field.) He isn’t promising miracles, but in the words of Darryl Clark, Cannon has brought “swagger” back to the Governors.
CB: First off, I love head coach Dino Babers. That being said, he also frustrates me to no end. He feels his team, which last year was in the top 10 in the FCS in offense and the bottom 20 in defense, needs to be better on…offense. The defense is fine. Seriously, his words. The. Defense. Is. Fine. (Yes, I know they beat EKU 24-7 . But, how about the rest of the games?!)
He wants his team to play at an even higher tempo than last year, (seriously?!?) and feels they could be more efficient. Somehow, and I don’t entirely know how, he’s gotten his record-holding WR Erik Lora and senior QB Jimmy Garopollo to buy into this.
It may sound like I’m being negative about the team picked to win the OVC. History aside, (the preseason OVC champion doesn’t correlate well to regular season OVC champion as of late) I think his team’s got a great chance, being one of the few returning a signal caller from last year.
Doesn’t mean Babers is any less frustrating. It’s just in a very good way.
CB: Head coach Dean Hood is continuing to go against the grain, playing “smash mouth” football in a high-scoring, pass-happy league. He’s had very solid success doing it, so it’s hard to blame him. He feels he has a veteran defense to compete with everybody. On the other side of the football, Hood was a bit more reserved, taking time to remind us of the immense talent leaving the program after last year, but he feels he has the right weapons in the wings. As he was last year, Hood jokes he’s glad they weren’t picked first. (He knows the history.)
On a final note, I think the term “quiet confidence” was made to describe not only Hood, but his players as well.
TV: Head Coach Chris Hatcher likes the up tempo game and brought it in the interviews as well throwing in some interesting answers to what we expected. He continued to say KD Humphries is the starter going into camp and even said even though they don’t have an established QB, don’t expect the Hatch Attack to be grounded. Expect more run plays but whoever the QB is will probably get 30-40 attempts a day.
On the defensive side of the ball he was confident (just like every coach stated) about how this new defense will look.
TV: Defense and lots of up tempo, that’s all that sticks in my head from new Gamecock coach Bill Clark. He was started saying how shocked he was that they were picked fourth in the preseason poll. He does have a favorite at QB, Eli Jenkins, but expect the up tempo offense craze to head to Jacksonville State.
The defense, Clark’s specialty, will be full of “toughness and intensity” something that could be said was missing last season. Previously a defensive coordinator in a great offensive league (Sun Belt) he expects the offenses to struggle against him.
CB: Picked 8th, head coach Tony Samuel‘s team is focused on the task ahead of them. Despite only returning 3 starters on defense, he took mild offense to my calling his defense “inexperienced,” asking me why everyone seemed to think that. (It might be that ‘returning starters’ thing.) He feels his defense has the talent, if not the experience, to ground the OVC’s passing attacks.
St. Louis is very much on their minds, as the Redhawks will take on SIU in Busch Stadium. Samuel, who has more the 40 players from the state of Missouri and more than 20 from the Greater St. Louis Area, knows how big a boon it can be for recruiting in the future. For guys like Spenser Davis, one of those 20 from the area, it’s a trip home, to play in front of his family and friends.
Ben Kargbo was rockin’ a sweet silver bow tie, by the way. It’s the small things…
TV: With five players in the quarterback room, four of which are juniors, head coach Jason Simpson said if there was a game tomorrow it would be Jarrod Neal taking the first snap.
He didn’t like the preseason poll that has the Skyhawks fifth. “In the last seven years, we have the most wins behind Dean Cook’s EKU,” Simpson said. His shakiness showed that just like most of his team, the question marks on who starts is affecting him, making the fall practices in Martin possibly the most important in the conference.
TV: The huge personality of head coach Ron Reed usually dominates the room but it was comments by LB Nick Thrasher that took the win. “We are going to dominate the OVC this year,” Thrasher said.
Returning all eleven starters, having the defensive player of the year prediction in Stephen Godbolt III, high expectations are expected, but are usual for Big Blue. Reed continuously said its all on paper, the awards are on paper, I want our guys to have them in December. Reed did address the Michael German questions saying he is still suspended from the team and until he has a court date, they will have no further comment.
This table was probably my favorite one to sit at.
TV: “Injuries last season gave guys that normally wouldn’t have gotten to see the field important reps,” head coach Watson Brown opened up with. One player that benefited was Darian Stone who is the starting QB this upcoming season.
Brown, as I waited for my individual interview, posed as a reporter asking his own players questions. It was interesting to say the least for a team that just one year ago was flashing their championship ring. The ring was there on the finger of WR Zack Ziegler, but to serve as motivation for this upcoming season.
Again, this is just a small taste from OVC Media Day. Our season previews will be starting soon, and we’ll have some more stories from Media Day as we countdown to the start of the season.