I crown the OVC champion before they’ve even played a conference game, and why the OVC needs to get over the idea of the “running” quarterback.
Here are the 10 things we learned from Week 4 of the college football season.
1) EASTERN ILLINOIS IS A KICKER AWAY FROM A BEING A COMPLETE TEAM
Three missed extra points likely didn’t change the outcome, but a series of short kickoffs did little to help stem the wave of Northern Illinois’ offense. Jimmy Garoppolo is showing he could be an NFL caliber quarterback, EIU has an outstanding receiving corps, the defense is solid, but special teams could be EIU’s achilles heel. At least, it could prevent them from running the table in the conference.
2) NO REALLY, EIU COULD EASILY RUN THE TABLE IN THE OVC
If you don’t think so, then you either haven’t seen Eastern Illinois play this season, or your fandom is clouding your view. I’m not saying they will, teams have bad days after all, but they absolutely have the talent to.
3) EASTERN KENTUCKY’S PASS DEFENSE (OR LACK THERE OF) IS TROUBLING
In this league, I’m not wholly concerned with how well they can stop the run, which is extremely well. I’m worried about their inability to stop the pass. UT Martin, Tennessee State, Murray State, and Eastern Illinois (of course) can sling the ball; Jacksonville State and SEMO’s passing attacks are looking better by the week. Eastern Kentucky struggled to contain Morehead State’s passing game, and the Eagles were in the contest much longer than I expected.
4) JACKSONVILLE STATE’S SCHEDULE IS THE BIGGEST REASON FOR THEIR 4-0 START
Georgia State may be an FBS team by name, but they’re not by talent. In the past two weeks, the Gamecocks have played just well enough to win against sub-par competition. They’re getting better, Max Shortell looks like he could be the quarterback to lead this team, but there’s a reason JSU’s not ranked despite the perfect start. It’s a rarity when the OVC schedule is a step up in difficulty for the team, but that’s exactly what the Gamecocks face when they host Murray State this weekend.
5) DON’T JUDGE TENNESSEE STATE BY THEIR FIRST FOUR GAMES
…because they’re getting better by the week. While Ronald Butler could be a very good quarterback before his college career is over, Michael German gives the offense an extra dimension right now. What’s more, German is still knocking off the rust, after missing Spring practice and the first two games of the year. TSU survived their early season schedule well, but don’t look down on the Tigers because of their struggles.
6) SEMO NEEDS TO KEEP SLINGING THE BALL
The Redhawks have been a team known for their rushing attack for years. That needs to change, and this weekend showed us why. Quarterback Kyle Snyder will miss some throws, he’ll make some mistakes, but the ground game isn’t good enough without the threat of the downfield throw. Snyder can provide that threat, and the Redhawks have enough talent at receiver to make some plays. They still have some needs in other areas, but this is a better team when they throw 30+ times a game.
7) MURRAY STATE QUARTERBACK MIKHAIL MILLER HAS TO BE AGGRESSIVE, AND NOT WORRY ABOUT MAKING MISTAKES
The most worrying thing about the Racers loss at Bowling Green wasn’t the defense, we know it’s shaky at best. It was the offense. Murray State put up 14 points early on Missouri in Week 1 by playing aggressive. In this week’s loss, Miller was anything but. The Racers QB hit 22-32 passes, for just for 138 yards. Dump downs and screens aren’t going to win big games, and the way the Murray State defense plays, they’re going to need everything they can get out of Miller and the offense every week.
8) “RUNNING” QUARTERBACKS ARE MAKING TOO MANY OVC TEAMS ONE-DIMENSIONAL
As I mentioned with SEMO, running attacks work because of the threat of the downfield pass. When your quarterback is as focused on running as he is on passing, it’s too easy to stop. Let’s be honest here — the odds that an OVC quarterback is going to be a dynamic enough runner to make a huge difference is low. Tennessee Tech’s loss at home against Tennessee State is a great example: Darian Stone never established a downfield threat, and as a result the defense stayed tight at the line. That not only takes away the run, but the short pass as well. Jacksonville State has had similar struggles this season, also. I understand you have to play within your teams’ talent, but the pool of truly game-changing running quarterbacks is small, even at the top level.
9) I’M OFFICIALLY OUT OF NICE THINGS TO SAY ABOUT AUSTIN PEAY
Their schedule has been brutal, I’ll give them that. But I’m not sure I’ve seen even a glimmer of hope so far. Things get much easier for them with their non-conference slate in their rear-view window.
10) DEAR FCS COACHES: PLEASE LOCATE UT MARTIN ON A MAP
Can you? Do you even know what state they play in? The Skyhawks, who had a bye this past week, were left off the FCS coaches top-25 yet again. They have two wins against ranked FCS opponents, and a loss to FBS Boise State. Maybe with another win, the voting coaches will learn of their existence. I can hope, right?