NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Javon Ringer didn’t realize the potential severity of the infection that required hospitalization, two surgeries and several days of wearing a “suction” device attached to his elbow to remove “the mess” that was in his arm.
The infection took hold the Friday and strengthened the Saturday before Tennessee opened the regular season against New England and sidelined the running back all last week. Ringer, who returned to the practice field Wednesday, said he first thought of the infection as an annoyance but later learned of its significance.
“I was OK until after that first surgery,” Ringer said, “and they were telling me kind of what they did and they were explaining to me how they wanted to get to that infection and get it drained out of my arm before it got to my bloodstream because if it would have gotten into my bloodstream, then I probably would have lost my arm.
“That’s when I kind of got a little freaked out about it,” Ringer continued. “I’m OK now. They had this little suction thing up against my arm that was kind of pumping out a lot of the mess that was in my arm. I was hooked up to that for five days after I got out of the hospital, and I’m OK now.”
Ringer is eager to regain the conditioning he had before the infection and play in the first game of his fourth NFL season. He fully participated in practice and did most of his work on the scout team Wednesday. He said he benefitted from a series of sprints that the team did after practice.
“It definitely felt really good (to practice again),” Ringer said. “Dealing with the infection that I had, which was kind of like a freak thing, because they said it probably just came from like a little scratch on my elbow. It just happened from, that first week when we were playing the Patriots, from that Friday night to Saturday afternoon, my arm got huge and it kind of snuck up on me.”
The Titans, who opened the season with consecutive losses, return to LP Field Sunday to host the Detroit Lions (1-1).
Ringer and other Titans players said the team returned to practice Wednesday with a calm focus on making improvements and identifying what they did well and what they want to do better.
“There’s no panic mode or anything right now,” Ringer said. “Being 0-2 is not a good thing, but (we’re) definitely not panicking right now. The only thing we can do is keep moving forward and just continue working on things in practice that we need to show on the field. We’ve just got to continue to stay on the field as an offense, moving the chains and having the big plays come.”
A stat widely used this week is that 22 of 184 teams (12 percent) that started a season 0-2 since 1990 have made the playoffs.
Will Witherspoon, who shifted from weakside linebacker to middle linebacker in place of Colin McCarthy at San Diego, said he isn’t putting much stock in those numbers.
“I’ve heard it and understood it, but whatever, that’s not the way I think,” Witherspoon said. “I don’t think like that, I don’t think about that, and that’s not what we’re about. I think every man in this locker room to a man is going to tell you, ‘Alright, so this is where we are. What are we going to do about getting out of it?”
Receiver Kenny Britt said the Titans have a lot to look forward to this season, but they have to keep a good attitude as they make progress. Britt played in limited situations at San Diego in his first football game in nearly a year, but his role is expected to increase each week, Titans coach Mike Munchak said.
“One thing about an 0-2 start, people get in a slump and start pointing fingers, that’s something we can’t do, and we know we can’t do that,” Britt said. “We’ve got a long season ahead of us, and those two games right there, we’ve got to put that behind us and move on.”
Six teams started 0-2, six teams started 2-0 and a record 20 teams started 1-1 this season. Last year, seven teams started 2-0, seven started 0-2 and 18 started 1-1. Four of the seven that started 2-0 made the playoffs, and no team that started 0-2 did in 2011.
Kamerion Wimbley, who joined the Titans this offseason, said he has confidence the team can reverse its current course.
“I believe in my teammates and the coaching staff here,” Wimbley said. “I feel like we have the players to be able to win games and we have the coaches to be able to win games. The first two games didn’t go the way we thought or wanted them to go, but there’s still a lot of games left. We have to take it one game at a time and see where it goes.”
Munchak said the team is disappointed with how it’s played so far, but players have had experience overcoming a tough stretch before. The Titans twice lost two games in a row in Munchak’s first season but finished with a 9-7 record. The second-year head coach thinks the Titans have the right mindset and approach to move forward.
“We knew these were good football teams we lost to, but obviously we all feel we should have played much better than we have,” Munchak said. “That’s a good thing that we all realize it, I think. Then we came out here with good attitudes and working hard, that’s what you’d expect a team to do. We just need to go out and have some success this weekend.”
When a reporter asked Munchak why he appeared so calm, he said he believes it’s important for a head coach to deliver messages with a demeanor that conveys the content of those messages.
“My job is to stay calm,” Munchak said. “I shouldn’t be the guy yelling and screaming and being out of control. I think they need to see a guy that is calm and understands what we’re doing and has confidence that we’re not panicking. I think when you start screaming, yelling and hollering, you don’t have an answer. You don’t know what to say, so you start screaming, yelling and knocking things over. … My message is delivered the way I feel is the best way to do it.”
MCCARTHY SHEDS BOOT
McCarthy on Wednesday said he’s making progress on the ankle injury he suffered in the second quarter against New England, but he doesn’t know when he will return to action.
“I’m not sure. I’m just going by what the trainers have me doing,” McCarthy said. “I’m in there every day working and just trying to get back on the field and help the team win.”
McCarthy wore a walking boot from shortly after the injury occurred until Monday when he saw the doctor again.
“We did a lot of work in the pool today, working with (strength and conditioning coach Steve) Watterson and our trainers and just improving day-to-day,” McCarthy said. “It feels better, haven’t had any, you know, nagging pains or that kind of thing, so we’re taking it in steps and it’s getting better, so I’m just staying positive.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The winless Tennessee Titans can only hope their recipe for success against NFC teams is strong enough to help them break out of their season-opening funk.
With Detroit and a loaded defensive line led by Ndamukong Suh coming to town Sunday, coach Mike Munchak knows one thing for sure: It could get ugly real fast if his Titans aren’t ready.
“I think that’s exactly what we need right now,” Munchak said Wednesday. “As an offensive line, we need to be challenged by a bunch of guys that can embarrass you if you’re not ready to play football.”
Playing the NFC has been a way for Tennessee to stack up lots of wins since realignment in 2002, going 28-12. Only the Patriots (35-6) and Steelers (28-11-1) have been better at interconference games. The Titans went 4-0 against the NFC North in 2008, a year the Lions went 0-16 and Tennessee was an NFL-best 13-3. They are 6-2 overall against the NFC North.
Munchak credits past success to studying a little harder to learn personnel and tendencies, which is crucial against Detroit (1-1).
Left tackle Michael Roos knows Detroit defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch after practicing against him for five seasons, while left guard Steve Hutchinson joined the Titans from Minnesota where he faced the Lions twice a year.
“This organization has done well, and that’s a good thing,” Munchak said of the success against the NFC. “I hope we can keep that going. They present a great challenge. This is a good football team. Like I said, if we’re not ready to play, it could get ugly real fast.”
The challenge is these Titans (0-2) have been outscored 72-23, have yet to score a rushing touchdown and have scored the fewest points in the league. Jake Locker is the leading rusher, not Chris Johnson, the man who came into this season leading the NFL in yards rushing since 2008.
Vanden Bosch said on a conference call with Tennessee reporters he’s surprised especially at how Johnson has struggled after watching him break all kinds of records.
“That’s the type of player I know he’s capable of being and the type of performance that we’re trying to prevent,” Vanden Bosch said. “He’s a special player and a unique athlete. What you can’t do is look at his stats and think of him as anything other than the guy he was and the guy he is capable of being.”
The good news for the Titans is they seem to be healing up. Wednesday marked the first practice in about a year with both Kenny Britt and Nate Washington healthy enough that neither was on the injury report. Britt was limited to only 19 snaps in last week’s 38-10 loss at San Diego, a game Washington also was limited by a bruised leg.
Munchak said there are no more limitations for Britt, who tore his right anterior cruciate ligament Sept. 25, 2011, setting up the first of three different knee surgeries.
“So he’ll get to play more and start making a difference that we think he can make,” Munchak said.
Johnson isn’t sure yet how much a healthy receiving corps can help him. Frustrated after the loss in San Diego where he ran eight times for 17 yards, Johnson said the Titans didn’t look like an NFL team. He told Detroit reporters Wednesday that everybody has to do their job and execute for the offense to work.
He also said it doesn’t matter what his teammates thought of his comments.
“Hopefully they take it as a positive,” Johnson said. “I’m not trying to bash anybody, but hopefully it will help and we can go out this weekend and turn it around.”
This will be Locker’s first start against an NFC team. Coming off the bench last season, he threw for three touchdowns with no interceptions and a 97.7 passer rating. Not falling behind would be a big key to staying balanced and keeping the Lions’ line from targeting Locker each play.
“There’s a fine line between having the opportunity to make a play and trying to create a play,” Locker said. “That’s just something you’ve got to recognize and be willing to take what they’re giving you, and once you get that opportunity to capitalize on it.”
NOTES: Munchak said MLB Colin McCarthy likely will be questionable Sunday, though the linebacker quit wearing a walking boot on his right ankle Monday. He did not practice Wednesday along with RG Leroy Harris (right knee). LB Zach Brown (knee), DT Sen’Derrick Marks (right knee), OT Mike Otto (finger, knee) and RB Javon Ringer (left elbow) all practiced fully. DT Mike Martin (foot) was limited.
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn.—Cody Tucker, a senior fullback on the Austin Peay State University football team, has been suspended indefinitely for violation of team policy.
“We have standards of conduct and expectations that our football team is expected to uphold, and when they do not abide by those, there are resulting consequences,” said APSU coach Rick Christophel.
Tucker, a two-year starter at fullback, has played in all three games this season. He has carried the ball twice for 23 yards. The White Bluff native played in 10 games a year ago and rushed for 20 yards.
This week nationally-ranked EKU will host nationally-ranked Jacksonville State in the OVC openers for both teams on Saturday; the Colonels enter the week No. 21 in the Sports Network poll (23rd in the FCS Coaches Poll) while Jacksonville State is No. 24 in the FCS Coaches Poll.
Those two teams were picked first and second in the OVC preseason poll and are the winningest teams in OVC play over the last decade (EKU has won 55 Conference games and JSU 54 Conference games over that time period).
In other action this week UT Martin is at Austin Peay, Tennessee Tech travels to Southeast Missouri and Murray State plays at Eastern Illinois.
Last Saturday’s action featured the first Conference game of the season as Tennessee State topped Austin Peay 34-14 to improve to 3-0 overall on the season (its best start since 2008).
The game was the first played on-campus at Hale Stadium since the 1998 season for the Tigers and was played in front of 14,264 fans..
In other action OVC teams were 2-2 against fellow Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) schools, with Eastern Kentucky and Murray State winning road games and Eastern Illinois (losing by three points in double overtime) and Southeast Missouri losing on the road. OVC schools are now 9-3 this season against FCS opponents.
For EKU, it was the team’s first non-conference road victory since the 2002 season, breaking a string of eight-straight losses.
This Week’s Schedule
Saturday, September 22
Tennessee State at Bethune-Cookman, 3:00 p.m.
*#24 Jacksonville State at #21 Eastern Kentucky, 5:00 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
*UT Martin at Austin Peay, 6:00 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
*Tennessee Tech at Southeast Missouri, 6:00 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
*Murray State at Eastern Illinois, 6:30 p.m. (OVC Digital Network)
Tennessee State Tigers (3-0, 1-0 OVC) at Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (2-1, 1-0 MEAC)
Saturday, Sept. 22 • 3:00 p.m. CT
Municipal Stadium (10,000) • Daytona Beach, Fla.
Live Stats:………………………………. www.bcuathletics.com
Series Record:……………………. Tennessee State leads 5-1
Last Meeting:……… Bethune-Cookman won 16-13 (11/7/87)
Rod Reed at Tennessee State:…………………. 11-14 (3 yrs.)
Rod Reed Overall:…………………………………………… same
Brian Jenkins at Bethune-Cookman:…………… 20-6 (3 yrs.)
Brian Jenkins Overall:………………………………………. same
Tennessee State Last Week:……. W, 34-14 vs. Austin Peay
Bethune-Cookman Last Week:…….. L, 38-10 at Miami (Fla.)
GAME NOTES: Tennessee State travels to Bethune-Cookman for the seventh all-time meeting between the teams on Saturday but first since the 1987 season. The Tigers hold a 5-1 all-time advantage in the series but the Wildcats won the last meeting 16-13. The game is the first home game of the season for Bethune-Cookman and will be the team’s annual Hall of Fame Game. It marks the first true road game of the season for TSU, who have played two home contests and a neutral site affair.
SCOUTING TENNESSEE STATE: Tennessee State played its first on-campus home game since the 1998 season on Saturday, topping Austin Peay 34-14 at Hale Stadium. Since 1999 the Tigers have been played at LP Field (and will play two home games there this season), but returned to “The Hole” and won in front of 14,264 fans. The win helped the Tigers improve to 3-0 on the season for the first time since the 2008 season. TSU quarterback Michael German was named OVC Offensive Player of the Week after completing 27-of-36 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. The 27 completions and 318 yards were new career-highs while the three touchdowns tied his career-best. German capped the day with a 51-yard touchdown pass to A.C. Leonard to cap the scoring. Leonard finished the day with five catches for 82 yards. Travis James was German’s favorite target on the day, grabbing nine passes for 109 yards and a score. Freshman Telvin Hooks led the Tigers with 66 rushing yards while Trabis Ward added 49 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore defensive back Steven Godbolt III had four tackles, two pass breakups and a fourth quarter interception; it marked his third interception of the season and he now ranks second nationally in that category. Godbolt also ranks fifth nationally in passes defended (2.0/game). Overall the TSU defense did not allow a 100-yard rusher for the fifth-straight game dating back to last season. Overall the 20-point margin of victory by TSU snapped a streak of five-straight games decided by three points or less.
SCOUTING BETHUNE-COOKMAN: The Wildcats are under the direction of third-year head coach Brian Jenkins who led the team to a share of the MEAC Championship and a playoff berth in 2010 and an 8-3 record a season ago. Bethune-Cookman started the season with a 38-28 win over Alabama State and a 27-14 win at South Carolina State. Last week the Wildcats faced off with Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) foe Miami (Fla.), falling 38-10 to the Hurricanes. B-CU scored the first points of the game as Isidore Jackson scored from a yard out late in the first quarter. But Miami would score the next 24 points, including three touchdowns by Duke Johnson (on a kickoff, rush and catch). Rodney Scott led the Wildcats with 72 yards on the ground while Jackson added 66 yards and the touchdown. Overall Bethune-Cookman had 233 rushing yards on the day.
#24 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (1-1, 0-0 OVC) at #21 Eastern Kentucky Colonels (2-1, 0-0 OVC)
Saturday, Sept. 22 • 5:00 p.m. CT
Roy Kidd Stadium (20,000) • Richmond, Ky.
TV:…………………………………………… OVC Digital Network
Live Stats: http://www.sidearmstats.com/eku/football/index.htm
Series Record:…………………… Eastern Kentucky leads 5-4
Last Meeting:………. Eastern Kentucky won 52-48 (11/5/11)
Jack Crowe at Jacksonville State:…………… 81-52 (13 yrs.)
Jack Crowe Overall:……………………………… 95-82 (18 yrs.)
Dean Hood at Eastern Kentucky:……………… 28-21 (5 yrs.)
Dean Hood Overall:…………………………………………. same
Jacksonville State Last Week:……………………………… Idle
Eastern Kentucky Last Week:. W, 35-17 at Coastal Carolina
GAME NOTES: The top two teams in the OVC preseason poll meet to kickoff the OVC season on Saturday. The key league matchup pits the two winningest OVC teams over the last decade (since JSU joined the league), as Eastern Kentucky has won 55 OVC contests in that time period and Jacksonville State has won 54 Conference matchups. Both teams enter the game ranked in the Top 25 as well, with EKU ranked 21st in the Sports Network and 23rd in the FCS Coaches Poll while Jacksonville State is ranked 24th in the Sports Network poll. Eastern Kentucky holds a 5-4 advantage in the all-time series, having won four of the last five overall. Last year’s matchup was one of the records book as the Colonels overcame a 48-24 deficit with 7:25 to play to win 52-48. EKU scored four touchdowns to close the game, with the winning score coming on a T.J. Pryor to Tyrone Goard 37-yard touchdown with 1:24 to play. Pryor was named National Player of the Week after throwing for 282 yards and five touchdowns; Goard hauled in three of those touchdowns while Matt Denham rushed for 209 yards. Washaun Ealey rushed for 217 yards and two scores for the Gamecocks.
SCOUTING JACKSONVILLE STATE: Jacksonville State is coming off a bye week after topping rival Chattanooga 27-24 two weeks ago. The Gamecocks won that game in exciting fashion as Griffin Thomas nailed a 37-yard field goal as time expired to lift his team to the victory. It was the first game-winning field goal of his career. Playing without Washaun Ealey, the Gamecocks still rushed for 216 yards, as sophomore DaMarcus James ran for 120 yards and a touchdown and caught a 30-yard touchdown pass on his way to OVC Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors, while freshman Troymaine Pope earned OVC Newcomer of the Week honors after rushing for 100 yards. Junior linebacker Rashad Smith, who leads all FCS players in forced fumbles (1.0/game), was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week and College Sporting News National Defensive All-Star of the Week after netting a career-high 15 tackles (including 11 solo stops) and forcing a fumble that Pierre Warren returned for a touchdown.
SCOUTING EASTERN KENTUCKY: Eastern Kentucky traveled to Coastal Carolina on Saturday and pulled off the 35-17 victory, handing CCU its first loss of the season. It marked the first FCS non-conference road win since the 2002 season, snapping a string of eight-straight losses. It also helped the Colonels improve to 2-1 for the first time since the 2009 season. Senior running back Matt Denham carried the ball 22 times for 121 yards (5.5 yards/carry) and a 6-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Denham also caught his first career touchdown pass, hauling in a 32-yarder from Jared McClain on the team’s first possession of the game. Denham, who is on the Walter Payton Award Watch List, currently ranks 16th nationally in rushing yards (111.33/game). McClain finished the game 7-of-8 for 101 yards and that score while T.J. Pryor was 6-of-10 for 124 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for a touchdown. Pryor threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Tyrone Goard in the second quarter, marking the longest completion of his career. Goard, who surpassed 1,000 career receiving yards with that catch, finished the game with four catches for 113 yards. Senior defensive back Justin Bell, who missed most of last week’s game with an injury, posted five tackles, three pass break-ups and two forced fumbles in the game.
UT Martin Skyhawks (2-1, 0-0 OVC) at Austin Peay Governors (0-3, 0-1 OVC)
Saturday, Sept. 22 • 6:00 p.m. CT
Governors Stadium (10,000) • Clarksville, Tenn.
TV:…………………………………………… OVC Digital Network
Live Stats: http://www.apsugovernors.com/liveStats/liveStats.dbml
Series Record:……………………….. UT Martin leads 33-25-2
Last Meeting:…………………. UT Martin won 61-23 (10/8/11)
Jason Simpson at UT Martin:………………….. 39-32 (7 yrs.)
Jason Simpson Overall:……………………………………. same
Rick Christophel at Austin Peay:………………. 18-40 (6 yrs.)
Rick Christophel Overall:…………………………………… same
UT Martin Last Week:.. W, 23-6 vs. Southeastern Louisiana
Austin Peay Last Week:………. L, 34-14 at Tennessee State
GAME NOTES: Austin Peay and UT Martin will play for the 61st time in history on Saturday. The game is also part of the Sgt. York Trophy series, contested between the four OVC football-playing schools from the state of Tennessee. UT Martin has controlled the series in recent years, winning the last four meetings and eight of the last nine games overall. Last season Austin Peay led 14-13 in the second quarter before UT Martin scored six-straight touchdowns to take a 54-14 lead. The Skyhawks finished the game with 552 yards of total offense while limiting the Governors to 317 yards of total offense. Derek Carr completed 24-of-36 passes for 387 yards and six touchdowns and Kenny Jones grabbed seven of those passes, netting 127 yards and two scores. Jake Ryan threw three touchdown passes for the Govs.
SCOUTING UT MARTIN: UT Martin improved to 2-1 on the season by topping Southeastern Louisiana 23-6 in its home opener last Thursday night. It marked the first non-conference victory over a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team since the team topped Gardner-Webb in the 2006 season. The 2-1 start marks just the eighth time since UTM joined the OVC in 1992 (but third time under seventh-year head coach Jason Simpson). Junior linebacker Ben Johnson recorded 12 tackles in the victory, his second-straight game with double-digit stops. Quarterback Derek Carr completed 11-of-23 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown. He is now just 450 yards away from becoming the Skyhawks all-time leading passer. Senior wide receiver Quentin Sims caught four passes for 72 yards and a score; in just over a year at UT Martin Sims has 12 career touchdowns. Sims ranks 14th nationally in receiving yards/game (98.0) and 18th nationally in receptions (7.33/game). Against SELU the Skyhawk rushing attack combined for 168 yards with Tevin Barksdale (61 yards), DJ McNeil (47 yards) and Jason McNair (45 yards) sharing most of the workload.
SCOUTING AUSTIN PEAY: Austin Peay saw its three-game winnings streak over Tennessee State come to an end on Saturday at Hale Stadium, as the Governors lost 34-14 to the Tigers. The Govs led 14-9 at halftime as Jake Ryan connected with Devin Stark on a touchdown catch later in the second quarter. But that would be the team’s final points of the game as APSU dropped to 0-3 on the season. The senior Stark caught nine passes for 124 yards and two scores on the afternoon; his first touchdown was a leaping, one-handed grab in the end zone in the first quarter. It marked the second 100-plus yard game of Stark’s career and moved him into Austin Peay’s top 10 for career receptions. He also became only the 13th player in school history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards. Running back Wesley Kitts had 91 rushing yards, including a 44-yard run early in the game; Kitts ranks 23rd in the FCS in rushing yards (101.67/game). Ryan had more passing yards in the first half (114) than he had in the first two games of the season combined; the senior quarterback finished the day 25-of-48 for 271 yards and two touchdowns.
Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (2-1, 0-0 OVC) at Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (1-2, 0-0 OVC)
Saturday, Sept. 22 • 6:00 p.m. CT
Houck Stadium (10,000) • Cape Girardeau, Mo.
TV:…………………………………………… OVC Digital Network
Live Stats: http://www.redhawkstv.com/LiveStats/2013Live/Football/xlive.htm
Series Record:…………………… Tennessee Tech leads 12-8
Last Meeting:…………. Tennessee Tech won 38-31 (9/24/11)
Watson Brown at Tennessee Tech:……………. 27-32 (6 yrs.)
Watson Brown Overall:……………………. 121-183-1 (28 yrs.)
Tony Samuel at Southeast Missouri:…………. 26-45 (7 yrs.)
Tony Samuel Overall:………………………….. 60-102 (15 yrs.)
Tennessee Tech Last Week:…………. L, 63-14 at #4 Oregon
Southeast Missouri Last Week: L, 35-14 at Southern Illinois
GAME NOTES: Tennessee Tech will travel to Southeast Missouri on Saturday night for the 21st all-time meeting between the two schools. TTU has won five of the last six in the series including a season ago when they won 38-21. In that game Tre Lamb completed 27-of-37 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown while Dontey Gay rushed for 146 yards and two scores. The Redhawks were led by Levi Terrell, who carried the ball 15 times for 154 yards (10.3 ypc) and three touchdowns.
SCOUTING TENNESSEE TECH: After starting the season with a pair of victories, Tennessee Tech suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday, losing at No. 4 Oregon from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The Golden Eagles scored the first points of the game, following a fumbled punt return, as Tre Lamb hit Da’Rick Rogers for a 23-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter. It marked the first touchdown against Oregon in the first quarter of a game this season. But it would take the Ducks just a minute to tie the score and a halftime the home team led 35-7 on its way to the 63-14 victory. Overall Tech netted two interceptions (Howard Griffin and Taylor Hennigan) and blocked a field goal on the afternoon. Tra’Darius Goff topped the defense with nine tackles and also blocked a punt while freshman William Dillard had eight tackles and broke up a pass. Sophomore Stephen Bush led the TTU rushing attack, netting a career-high 63 yards and 14 carries. Lamb finished the game 8-of-13 for 46 yards and his touchdown while being intercepted once and sacked five times. Despite the rough day Lamb still ranks fourth nationally in passing efficiency (172.64) this season. Rogers has now caught a touchdown pass in each of his first three games in a Golden Eagle uniform. Junior punter Chad Zinchini tied the Tennessee Tech record with 12 punts and broke the program mark with 492 punt yards. Included in that total was a career-long 62 yard punt; he finished the game averaging 41.0 yards/punt.
SCOUTING SOUTHEAST MISSOURI: The Southeast Missouri defense netted four takeaways against Southern Illinois on Saturday and have now forced multiple turnovers in five-straight games dating back to last season. Through three games this season the Redhawks rank first nationally in turnovers gained (13), second in turnover margin (+2.67/game), second in passes intercepted (7) and fourth in fumbles recovered (6). Despite the turnovers Southeast lost 35-14 at regional rival Southern Illinois. Senior linebacker Blake Peiffer had 18 tackles in the loss, the most tackles by an OVC player in a game this season, and one shy of the most by a FCS player this season. Peiffer, who is on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List, has posted double-digit tackles for the first time this season and 12th time in his career. Teammate Branden Spann had the first career interception and fumble recovery of his career in the game. Junior punter Joe Vucic punted a career-high nine times for a 45.3 yards/punt average. Three of his punts went inside the SIU 20-yard line and two were downed inside the 5-yard line. He had a long of 53 yards on the night and currently ranks first in the OVC and seventh nationally with a 44.5 yards/punt average this season.
Murray State Racers (1-2, 0-0 OVC) at Eastern Illinois Panthers (1-2, 0-0 OVC)
Saturday, Sept. 22 • 6:30 p.m. CT
O’Brien Field (10,000) • Charleston, Ill.
TV:………………………………….. WEIU/OVC Digital Network
Live Stats:………. http://www.sidearmstats.com/eiu/football
Series Record:……………………. Eastern Illinois leads 14-13
Last Meeting:……………. Murray State won 36-27 (10/15/11)
Chris Hatcher at Murray State:………………….. 14-11 (3 yrs.)
Chris Hatcher Overall:…………………………. 108-38 (13 yrs.)
Dino Babers at Eastern Illinois:…………………….. 1-2 (1 yr.)
Dino Babers Overall:……………………………………….. same
Murray State Last Week:……….. W, 28-23 at Missouri State
Eastern Illinois Last Week: L, 54-51 at #15 Illinois State (2OT)
GAME NOTES: The 28th meeting between Eastern Illinois and Murray State predicts to be one of the highest-scoring in series history (the current high is 72 combined points scored in the 2002 game, a 37-35 Murray State win), as two high-scoring spread offenses meet on Saturday. The two teams are currently combining for 57.3 points and 655.67 passing yards/game. EIU quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo currently ranks fourth nationally in passing (327.0 yards/game) and MSU quarterback Casey Brockman is ninth (291.67 yards/game). The OVC record for combined points in a Conference game is currently 110 (Murray State/UT Martin in 2007). Eastern Illinois holds a 14-13 advantage in the all-time series and won seven in a row from 2003-09 but Murray State has won the last two in the series including 36-27 a year ago. In that game the Racers scored 19 unanswered points to overcome a 27-17 deficit. Brockman had 207 passing yards while Mike Harris ran for 133 yards and four touchdowns. Garoppolo threw for 247 yards and two scores for EIU.
SCOUTING MURRAY STATE: After starting the season with a loss at FBS foe Florida State (the Racers are the only team to score against the Seminoles in three total games this season) and against nationally-ranked FCS foe Central Arkansas, Murray State went to Missouri State and pulled out a 28-23 win on Saturday night. After struggling in his first two games of the season, Walter Payton Award candidate Casey Brockman completed 41-of-59 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for another score. In the process Brockman became the Murray State all-time completions leader and now ranks second in OVC history (680), just 94 behind Morehead State’s Chris Swartz for the all-time record. It marked the senior’s 10th 300-yard career passing game, tying Justin Fuente (now the head coach at Memphis) for the school record in that category. Brockman found Walter Powell for 12 of those completions which Powell turned into 90 yards. Overall 11 different Murray State players caught at least one pass. Making his Racer debut after transferring from Ohio State, Jaamal Berry was named OVC Newcomer of the Week after carrying the ball eight times for 41 yards and catching four passes for 44 yards and the game-winning score early in the fourth quarter. Duane Brady led MSU with 47 rushing yards on the night. Junior defensive back Brandon Wicks was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week after intercepting a pass at the Racers 37-yard line with 41 seconds left to seal the victory; Wicks also added a team-high 10 tackles on the night.
SCOUTING EASTERN ILLINOIS: In what marked the highest-scoring game in the 101 meetings between Eastern Illinois and Illinois State, the Panthers came out on the short end of a 54-51 double overtime contest on Saturday. EIU led the 15th-ranked Redbirds 17-14 at halftime and were leading with a minute to play in regulation before ISU drove 94 yards in seven plays to take a three-point lead. But EIU had a final drive left and marched down to the three-yard line before settling for a Cameron Berra 20-yard field goal to force overtime. The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime and Berra added a field goal in the second extra period before Illinois State scored a touchdown to win the game. Berra was named OVC Specialist of the Week after going 3-of-3 on field goal attempts and 6-of-6 on PATs. Junior quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo finished the game 37-of-61 for a career-high 387 yards and two touchdowns. The 61 pass attempts established a new EIU single-game record (passing the mark previously held by Sean Payton and Tony Romo). Garoppolo currently ranks fourth nationally in passing yards (327.0/game) and fifth nationally in total offense (314.67 yards/game).