Football season is just around the corner, as the coaches and a few players meet the media. We’ll be updating this post throughout the afternoon with quotes and notes from our interviews.
12:00 p.m. We’re underway!
12:07 p.m. OVC Commissioner Beth DeBauche is discussing the possibility of the power five conference getting autonomy. She says she feels the OVC will play “an important role” in the future of Division I.
12:10 p.m. DeBauche praising the FCS football model, and the expanded playoffs. Notes the 19 FCS players drafted, 16 wins against FBS competition last year.
12:11 p.m. DeBauche talking about the “comprehensive” media coverage this year. ESPN3, OVC Digital Network, OVC Extra. (We’re here too, commish! lol)
12:14 p.m. She thanks the media. I’ll take it!
12:49 p.m. Three teams down: Murray State, Eastern Kentucky, and Eastern Illinois.
Murray is focused on consistency. The media is focused on the quarterback battle. Head coach Chris Hatcher isn’t showing his hand, and says the more consistent between KD Humphries and CJ Bennett will be the starter in the fall.
I’m a fan of new EIU head coach Kim Dameron. He’s a very straight forward guy. As for what’s changing under the new regime, it depends on who you ask. His two players both denoted that it’s clear he’s a defensive guy, but Dameron and I spent more time talking about the offense, and their own QB battle. What’s most important to him? Not turning over the football.
I called Dean Hood‘s EKU squad the “forgotten team” here today. Everyone is focused on EIU, and Jacksonville State, and not paying a lot of attention to a team that’s consistently been a strong program. Hood says speed was missing last year, as was the offense’s ability to hold onto the football. He says the speed issue isn’t about bad scouting, it’s about bad positioning, and he’s moved players around to help them get faster.
1:24 p.m.: This round – UT Martin, Jacksonville State, Southeast Missouri, Austin Peay
The Skyhawks aren’t buying they’re 5th. In fact, head coach Jason Simpson says this team is more athletic and deep than any team he’s had. If there’s a concern, it’s what Simpson called a “top 5% guy,” a.k.a. all-conference caliber guys. They’re filling some holes on offense with FBS transfers, but they’re fully expecting (as most every coach is) to top the conference.
The Gamecocks are coming off an amazing season, and they, much like EIU, have eyes on a national title. John Grass has taken over the helm, and is looking forward to coaching, in his words, such experienced players.
Southeast Missouri and Austin Peay’s players and coach were both rather realistic about their expectations. SEMO WR Paul McRoberts says he knows what people think about the Redhawks, and he’s ready to change that perception. Austin Peay says they’re stronger than they were a year ago, and they’re ready to start winning. Bottom line for the Governors: they don’t want a repeat of last year.
1:42 p.m.: Tennessee State in one word: understated. They’re coming off an FCS playoff win alone, and they’re hoping to be in a position to win the OVC in November this year. The defense, which has been the core of the team under Rod Reed returns quite a few starters, and Reed himself notes how consistent their defense has been in his three years there. He didn’t talk much about the other side of the football, which struggled early in the year to sustain long drives, but came into their own over the last month. Reed says about 55-60 guys are back from last year’s team, which is a solid number.
1:58 p.m.: Tennessee Tech rounds out the interview. Head coach Watson Brown feels that injuries each of the past two season are a major reason they’ve struggled. His top five “skill players” a year ago never played one game together. They have a new strength and conditioning coach who the players feel will help solve some of the injury concerns. Brown’s seniors know what it’s like to win a conference title, and he feels that experience could help the team get back to the top.