Time for the first of our traditional power rankings…but this year we are adding a new twist.
You will still get my take on the team, but we have added more voters to the panel, and every week we will come up with a fun topic to go along with each squad. For our first power ranking we decided to go with a movie about the squad.
So lets rank’em:
#1 – Eastern Illinois (2 Fast 2 Furious)
[Writers Rank – No. 1, Fans rank – No. 2]
All the Sport information Directors agree with this as the Panthers are just too fast for a new statistician on the job. The Panther are the favorite based on how they played last season, what else would you expect. Their dynamic duo of Jimmy Garoppolo and Erik Lora are in year two under Dino Babers and they want to go faster!
#2 – Eastern Kentucky (Forrest Gump)
[Writers Rank – No. 3, Fans Rank No. 1]
I really wish there was a Forrest on this team so I could yell “Run Forrest Run!!” Its the EKU style, run run and oh yeah run. The guy running the ball this year is Jared Sanders who will have the task of moving the offense along for the Colonels who eye a trip to the FCS playoffs. An advantage EKU does have is an experienced quarterback in Jared McClain. He split time at the spot just a year ago but it’s his job fulltime starting tomorrow against Robert Morris.
#3 – Jacksonville State (Friday Night Lights)
[Writers Rank – No. 2, Fans Rank No. 3]
In Odessa it was title or bust, seems to be the same way for the Gamecocks. I could have done a spy movie because the information out of JSU has been very very limited. Their QB depth chart reads as follows:
Max Shortell OR Eli Jenkins OR Kyle West.
This is smart as the quarterbacks each have their own known skills but its frustrating for a person like myself to project what they will be. They are going up tempo and have the best returning RB statistically in DeMarcus James. Defense will be the typicla Gamecock strength as head coach Bill Clark is a defense minded guy.
#4 – Tennessee State (Any Given Sunday)
[Writers Rank: No. 4, Fans Rank No. 4]
“No intensity, no victory!” that’s what I think of when you see the Tennessee State defense returning all 11 starters and in my interview with a few players the intensity was shown. The defense will be the reason why the Tigers go anywhere this year in my opinon but that’s becuase we don’t know much on the other side of the ball. Freshmen Ronald Butler is taking over at the quarterback spot, a new running back in Telvin Hooks and the offensive line has to replace two guys that went to NFL camps.
#5 – Murray State (Fast and Furious)
[Writers Rank No. 6, Fans Rank No. 5]
The original up-tempo team in the conference gets the original movie, that’s how I see it. A major question on the minds of fans is how furious will the offense be this season? Will we still see the typical “Air Raid” attack of 40-50 passes a game when you have a duo called “Thunder and Lightning” in Jaamal Berry and Duane Brady? On the defensive side the team is now a 3-4 team and will run zone, anything to fix the porous pass defense from a year ago and in camp the defense has looked strong.
#6 – UT Martin (Moneyball)
[Writers Rank No. 5, Fans Rank No. 6]
This one fits perfect, they take players mostly through transfers and unknown high school recruits and are very competitive. There are two impact transfers on this team but one may or may not get significant playing time. Arizona State transfer Kevin Anderson is a perfect slot receiver for the offense and will see a lot of 1-1 coverage with Jeremy Butler on the outside. The other transfer is a Favre, shocking that Favre is getting the attention, but Dylan Favre brings a QB option look that makes game planning hard. Expect Neal to be the main QB, but Favre will probably get some playing time as well.
#7 – Tennessee Tech (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
[Writers Rank No. 7, Fans Rank No. 7]
It’s just a flesh wound! This time last year things were looking great for the Golden Eagles. Defending OVC champions, just got in a SEC wide receiver and then the injury bug bit the team all over. The bug allowed this year’s team to get some experience they probably wouldn’t have gotten, look at quarterback Darian Stone. He is technically a returning starting QB with the last few games under his belt.
#8 – Southeast Missouri (Rocky)
[Writers Rank No. 8, Fans Rank No. 8]
You root for Rocky. You like Rocky. But no matter how many times you watch the original movie, he still loses in the end. A year after being named starting quarterback Kyle Snyder finally gets to wear the SEMO game jersey after missing last season with a torn ACL. The Redhawks are the time equalizers, they like to have possession and run the ball and it will Lennies McFerren getting the reps along side fullback Ron Coleman. Defensively the Redhawks start a whole new defensive ling and that will be crutial as SEMO seemed to struggle getting pressure on opposing offenses.
#9 – Austin Peay (The Replacements)
[Writers Rank No. 9, Fans Rank No. 9]
Replacing their head coach, quarterback, running back, top wide receiver, top defensive lineman, this team is the replacements and its something Kirby Cannon has done before in rebuilding programs. The quarterback is Andrew Spivey, a JUCO gunslinger and he has two main targets who have separated themselves in camp with Darryl Clack and Mikhail Creech. Defensively the Govs are going to miss defensive end Earnest Smith but they do have another defensive lineman behind him Iosua Siliva. The Govs could surprise us with a few wins this season, I just can’t tell you where.