With our other lives catching up with us both at the site, its time to catch up and find out what has been taking place this past week in OVC football. This week has been a busy one as teams try to make the necessary improvements.
Two more potential starters, wide receiver Earlzo Singleton and running back Reco Williams will not be playing this season for the Govs. Singleton who just signed with the team in the spring has withdrawn from the school, and Williams has been declared academically ineligible. Both come at the worst possible time for the Governors and head coach Kirby Cannon who is looking for starters. The total count of potential starters lost for the season since the spring is five according to The Leaf Chronicle’s Luke Thompson.
It wasn’t all bad news this week as Cannon brought in six new players including two from his former job at Central Michigan. Running back Tim Phillips and safety Leron Eaddy decided to make the move to Clarksville with coach Cannon and will play their final season as a Gov. Other players that joined were inside linebacker Montrieze Lillard from Independence (Kan.) Community College and quarterback Trey Taylor of Central Arkansas, who will have to sit out this season. The final two roster additions were freshman linebacker Antonio Turner and wide receiver Rashaan Coleman.
On the practice field the battle between quarterbacks Jacob Sexton and Andrew Spivey could result in fans seeing split time at the position. Sexton is better in the running department while Spivey is more of a passer, this could work for the Govs making teams game plan for two completely different styles at QB.
The defending OVC champs held a scrimmage this past weekend and as expected the starters didn’t disappoint. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was 25 of 37 for 349 yards with 3 touchdowns. The battle in camp for the Panthers has been who will be the second option at wide receiver behind Erik Lora, the leading candidates are Jeff LePak, Adam Drake and Brandon Barker.
On the defensive side the transition to a new front line has gone unnoticed as the defense created seven sacks, with Clinton Simpkins and Pat Wertz being standouts on the line.
Like most of the teams in the OVC, Saturday was “Scrimmage Saturday” and it was defense that dominated the game forcing four turnovers. Head Coach Dean Hood wasn’t concerned at all saying you expect the defense to be ahead early in the summer. Bryce Krebs forced a fumble and Christian Albertson came up with an interception to highlight the defense.
What is unknown for Colonel fans is who will be replacing Matt Denham at the running back slot. Coming into camp Caleb Watkins was the favorite but redshirt freshmen JJ Jude, Jared Sanders and Thomas Owens aren’t far behind. During the scrimmage it was Sanders making the big splash, opening the second half with a simple run to the right side for 75 yards to the house.
This weekend’s Gamecock scrimmage is going to the most important for head coach Bill Clark as he expects to trim the quarterbacks to two for the season opener against Alabama State. The favorites right now are Max Shortell and Eli Jenkins. Just like Austin Peay, both have their prefered style with Shortell being the air, and Jenkins the versatile ground game. Interesting enough Clark said when he makes his decision, only the starting QB will know. Not the media, and thus not the opposing team, but expect to see the Gamecocks split reps like they did last season. “I’m not going to say it’s going to be every series thing, but there’s going to be two guys we can count on.” Clark said.
The Gamecocks also brought in a couple of transfers from SEC schools. Defensive end Kameron Wood arrived yesterday from Ole Miss, while former Alabama guard Caleb Gulledge came in on Monday. Gulledge is expected to make the most immediate impact as he was dismissed for “medical reasons” relating to a back injury but Gulledge is “Ready to Go” according to Clark. Gulledge will be making the transition from guard to tackle.
Racers quarterback battle has taken an interesting turn this past week to say the least. Coming into the week the reps for first team KD Humphries, who was the projected starting coming into camps, and Maikhail Miller the Ole Miss transfer. After a scrimmage on Saturday that saw both threw 2 interceptions the door was left open for Parks Frazier who had a stronger showing compared to the others, no interceptions or touchdowns. This week while attending practice it was Miller getting all the first team reps and Frazier getting all the second team reps. While it hasn’t been confirmed just yet, the amount of reps suggest they have their starter.
Speaking of the defense the change from 4-3 to 3-4 has worked better than expected. The Racers depth this year is at the linebacker position with Qua Huzzie, Sam Small, Blake Salter, Chris Dansby, and freshmen Jonathan Jackson to get time this year. Expect the pressure to increase this season from the Racers, helping to assist a secondary that was near bottom of the conference. On the defensive line expect to see LaBront Scott, Jerrold Frazier and Felton Collins all who will be back next season as well.
Southeast Missouri- nothing to report
Who is the quarterback for Tennessee State, seriously is it the guy wearing number 12? You might be fooled, yes Michael German wore that number last season and yes his charges were dismissed but it is transfer Lamar McKnight donning the jersey. The QB battle as it stands right now is between Ronald Butler, Holt Claiborne and McKnight with very little separating the quarterbacks.
Another Preseason All-OVC lineman Kadeem Edwards returned to practice for the first time yesterday and he will be making the transition to left tackle for the Tigers.
Also yesterday Boxtorow released its annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities FCS Coaches Poll and tabbed the Tigers at third in the country and picked up two first place votes. The Tigers season opener will be against the team voted first, Bethune-Cookman.
In the team’s first scrimmage there was just one turnover in the nearly 100 play game that saw three touchdowns and five field goals. The battle at the QB slot seems to be Darian Stone who started the last few games of the season last year but he is being challenged by Jared Davis and Charlie High. The edge does seem very much to Stone who threw for two touchdowns in the scrimmage. It was the ground game that took over for the Eagles as they ran for 328 yards. The starting running back will be Bud Golden with redshirt freshman Isaiah McKinney trying to grab the backup role. Coach Watson Brown was satisfied with what he saw on both sides of the ball as the offense moved it down nicely while the defense prevented giving up the huge homerun plays.
Roger Ealey, the voice of the Golden Eagles Sports Network was selected as the recipient of the 2013 OVC Media Award which is given to a media member who exhibits the highest commitment to covering the OVC.
Skyhawks fans had a scare Saturday night when I tweeted that Jeremy Butler wasn’t participating in their first scrimmage of the year. The wide receiver “tweaked his groin” after making one of his catches during a practice earlier in the week. Coach Jason Simpson said he would hold the receiver out until he is 100%.
Update: Just spoke with UTM Athletics and Butler returned to practice this week and is good to go from this point forward.
That may be the least of the worries for UT Martin as poor offensive line play made the quarterback battle the third story out of the scrimmage. At center there very few good snaps and the pocket presence was nonexistent. It looked to be the defense was out to prove under the lights and that they did causing 4 sacks, an INT and 2 fumble recoveries.
On the quarterback front it seems Jarrod Neal is the favorite just like he was when spring practice ended. He did struggle going 3 of 14 for 61 yards. With the pocket chaos it was the playmaking skills of Dylan Favre that showed as he was able to tuck and run along with extending the plays. Favre finished the night 9 of 14 for 74 yards.
With Butler out, it seemed no receiver stepped up and that is cause for alarm for a team looking for to take the pressure off of Butler. Dylan Davis has moved to the outside opposite of Butler but hasn’t shown much in the time we have seen him play. Transfer Kevin Anderson will be slot and has shown potential to be an excellent number two option in bursts.