With the season beginning on Thursday, we wanted to provide a small primer for each of the OVC Teams. Here are the 10 things you should know about UT Martin heading into the 2013 year.
1) THE GOOD NEWS — UT Martin was picked fifth in the OVC preseason poll, but the conference schedule sets up well for the Skyhawks. UTM hosts three of the four teams ahead of them in the poll (Jacksonville State, Tennessee State, and Eastern Illinois) and only faces one on the road. (Eastern Kentucky)
2) THE BAD NEWS — …is that UTM has never won at EKU. In fact, they’re 1-22 against the Colonels all time, with their only win coming in 2010 in Martin. Of course, recently, going undefeated in OVC play isn’t a necessity for winning the conference: No team has gone undefeated in the conference since EKU in 2007, and twice since then a two-loss team has won the OVC. (EIU 2009, three team tie in 2011)
3) UNCERTAINITY AT QUARTERBACK — As of now, we don’t know who UT Martin’s opening day starter will be, and head coach Jason Simpson isn’t expected to name one until tomorrow. It could be one of three: redshirt sophomore Jarod Neal, redshirt sophomore Tyler Rice, and junior transfer Dylan Favre.
4) YES…THAT FAVRE — Dylan is the nephew of all-time great and multiple retiree Brett Favre, but the namesake hasn’t made the road very smooth. Dylan’s collegiate career began at Mississippi State, where he played one season before transferring to the JUCO level. The offseason between those two were especially troubling: In April of 2012, Dylan was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. (No word on how those charges were resolved)
5) TOUGH GUY TO FOLLOW — Whoever wins the quarterback battle has huge shoes to fill. They’ll be replacing UT Martin’s all-time leader in yards (8,428) and touchdowns (69) Derek Carr. He also led the Skyhawks to six conference wins, another school record.
6) …BUT HAS PLENTY OF WEAPONS — The wide reciever corps at UT Martin is stacked. Two starters from last year return (including their No. 2 reciever, Jeremy Butler) and are joined by a pair of high profile transfers: Former Arizona State Sun Devil Kevin Anderson and former Michigan State transfer Kyle Kerrick.
7) …AND PLENTY OF PROTECTION — Four starters return on the offensive line, which allowed just 17 sacks last season.
8) REPLACING TWO ALL-AMERICANS — One reciever not returning is All-American Quentin Sims, who was signed by the New England Patriots in July. Another All-American graduate from last year’s program was a NFL Draft pick, Montori Hughes, who went to the Colts.
9) SIMPSON RETURNS — After interviewing for the opening at Southern Miss., UT Martin fans are fortunate to have their Jason Simpson back at the help. At least, they should be: Simpson has the highest winning percentage of any football coach in Skyhawk history. (.570) He almost certainly has a shot at a larger program in his future, and UTM fans should savor him as long as possible.
10) MEMPHIS, PART DEUX — UT Martin’s 2012 season started with a 20-17 win at Memphis, in a game that was nearly called (with Memphis leading) due to a huge storm that created a lengthy delay. UTM goes for back-to-back wins against the Tigers on November 9th. They have another FBS team on the schedule as well, with a trip to Boise State on September 7th.