Now, as you may have noticed, football is back in the OVC. Many of us *cough* Catlin *cough* griped that this first week of football is merely a bunch of tune-ups for four OVC teams, while the rest play “money games” and Murray State playing Robert Morris. Well. for one OVC team, one of those games got a close for comfort.
Tennessee Tech opened up under the lights of Tucker Stadium against Kentucky Christian University, an NAIA school. The Golden Eagles took the field poised to show their “QW” based offense for the first time. Now, that was all good in principle, many remember the shellacking that Tech put on Cumberland the previous year in their home-opener.
Shellacking, this was not.
While Tech won by a healthy margin of 26, many hometown fans, I admittedly include myself, were left wondering: “Why did Tech only put up 33 points against a non-divisional school?”. After clearing my head of the fact I am not only a fan, but also a reporter, I came to the following conclusion.
This was not a “Let’s see how we stack up against a smaller foe and blow them out” game, people. I now firmly believe that this game was scheduled for one reason, and that’s along the reasoning of “Alright, we’ve worked on this radical new offense and invented a new position all summer, let’s see how it works out”.
First-game nerves were evident on both sidelines. Golden Eagle quarterback Jared Davis lined up under center instead of the usual Darian Stone. The Golden Eagles opened the game with a quick strike, only a little under 9 minutes in, Davis completed a 7 yard touchdown pass to new QW Darian Stone. Then, with just under 3 minutes to go, USF transfer Willie Davis gets his first handoff as a Golden Eagle and takes it 23 yards to the house, concluding that quarters action.
Kentucky Christian threatened early in the second, but raucous “Block that kick!” chants from the Golden Eagle student section sent the Tech defense flying into the backfield and easily blocking the field goal. But, a scary moment happened when the ball rolled slowly at the goal line, KCU could’ve recovered for a touchdown, but the ball bounded into the endzone for a touchback.
On the ensuing drive, Jared Davis threw a pick to KCU’s Mike Davis on the ensuing shot down the field. KCU threatened again, but again the Golden Eagle faithful rattle Kentucky Christian’s kicker, causing him to send a low-line drive that had no chance of being good. After back and forth “three and outs”, the Golden Eagles forced a safety by bringing down KCU’s running back down in the backfield while they were backed up on their own 1-yard line. Tech nearly returned the safety punt to the house, but the last line of the coverage brought the return-man down.
Overall, not a bad half considering a completely new offense was implemented over 1 summer. Back and forth it went in the third quarter until Tech broke the scoring drought with a 45-yard field goal by kicker John Arnold. Darian Stone returned to his post under center and carved himself a 10-yard touchdown run.
The Golden Eagles forced a rare KCU turnover in a fumble, and proceeded to cash it in on a 35-yard reception by Cody Matthews to increase the Tech lead to 33-0. KCU got it’s lone points on a late 4 yard touchdown rush. The final score of the game turned out to be 33-7, Tennessee Tech.
Now, most of you are still thinking “But it’s an NAIA school! An NAIA school!!!”. Hear me out, I’ll reiterate, this was not the sort of game to schedule just for a disproportionate final score, this game was played with the mindset and philosophy, as far as I can tell, of “Is this new offense practical, should we panic?” to which I will answer in order.
Yes, this offense has the potential to absolutely drive defensive coordinators absolutely crazy, some plays had the KCU defense scrambling for who to pinch on, one thing I noticed, screen passes are wickedly effective with this system, many KCU players pinched on the running back or a receiver when Davis would dump it to Stone and pick up 7-10 yards. So,no, you need not panic, believe me, walking away from Tucker Stadium I was thinking the same things. Don’t give up on this offensive system just yet, let Jared Davis get a little work in, let him work out the kinks and nerves that any quarterback, let alone a sophomore, faces in his first game of the season under center. Because if that happens, this offense could revolutionize college football as we know it.