|Homecoming now means more with UTM in must-win mode |
|Posted: Friday, October 7, 2011 7:02 pm |
|By KEVIN WEAKS |
With two losses in the Ohio Valley Conference and two months still remaining in the regular season, UT Martin’s game plan is simple.
Win out, and wait.
“I think it’s a deal that if we want to stay in the conference race, we have to win out,” Skyhawk football head coach Jason Simpson said.
“I still think two losses will put you in the top two, but we have to win this game. We wanted to be 4-0 at home in this stretch, but 3-1 is next best thing, so that’s our goal.”
Simpson’s plan begins Saturday afternoon as UTM welcomes back its alumni with its homecoming game against Austin Peay. Kickoff will be 2 p.m.
UT Martin fell to 2-2 overall and 1-2 in the OVC last week with a 34-31 loss to Tennessee Tech at home.
Austin Peay, meanwhile, had a comeback 37-34 win over Tennessee State to up its records to 2-2 overall and 2-0 in the OVC.
The endings in both of those games helped Simpson make a point to his team, one that has surely been repeated many times in preparation for Saturday’s game.
“We have to develop that killer instinct,” Simpson said. “We have to put teams away offensively. Last week, another touchdown changes the other team’s mentality. The defense, too, has to make that final stop.”
Stopping the Governors could be a problem.
APSU’s team numbers of 19 points scored to 37.5 points allowed per game are deceiving, residue from a season-opening 72-10 loss to Cincinnati.
The Govs are balanced offensively with Jake Ryan at the controls. He has completed 73-of-135 passes for 842 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions.
Devin Stark has 27 catches for 346 yards and four touchdowns, while Ryan White leads the ground game with 336 yards and a TD on 82 carries.
Defensively, Antwaun Majors has 34 tackles this season.
“The two teams are very comparable, statistically,” Simpson said. “Their quarterback is like (Derek) Carr in that he’s started couple of years and is coming into his own, while it seems like the running back has been there forever.
“But, our focus needs to be on us. There are things we did to lose (last week’s) game that we can control, and we have to work on that.”
Dwelling on last week’s loss will do the Skyhawks no good, and Simpson made sure to address that following the game.
“I still think we have a good football team,” Simpson said. “They were frustrated; I was frustrated, but that’s just the way it is. It’s like life. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. We let one slip away. You hang your head for about 30 seconds, and then you come back tomorrow.”
EXTRA POINTS: UTM leads the all-time series, which dates back to 1930, 35-25-2. The Skyhawks won last season’s game, 28-12, giving UT Martin three straight wins and seven of the last eight in the series. … The game marks the second for both in the Sgt. York series. APSU is 1-0 while UTM is 0-1 after last week’s games. The York series is played between the OVC’s four Tennessee-based schools — UTM, Austin Peay, Tech and Tennessee State. … Saturday’s game will conclude a four-game homestand for UTM. The Skyhawks will have only one more home game remaining, Oct. 29 vs. SEMO. UTM will travel to South Alabama (Oct. 15), Eastern Illinois (Oct. 22), Mississippi State (Nov. 5), Tennessee State (Nov. 12) and Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 19). Published in The Messenger 10.7.11