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Road trip gives UTM another good ‘1st’

Road trip gives UTM another good ‘1st’

Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 12:02 pm

By KEVIN WEAKS
Press Sports
UT Martin’s football team put up another “first” last week. The Skyhawks will be looking for a “fourth” on Saturday.
UTM’s 24-23 win over Eastern Illinois in Charleston, Ill., was the first-ever victory at EIU, a win that improved the Skyhawks to 4-3 overall and 3-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
“I’m very proud of that,” UTM head coach Jason Simpson said. “It’s kind of neat to be at a place where there are a lot of firsts. We’re checking off a lot of those firsts.”
Now, the Skyhawks will return home for their final game of the season at Graham Stadium. A win there would give UTM a 4-1 home record.
UTM will celebrate Senior Day on Saturday against Southeast Missouri. The kickoff has been moved up to 2 p.m.
“It’s the last home game for our seniors and an opportunity to go 4-1 at home and stay in the race a little,” Simpson said. “We have a chance to be 4-2 in the league with two to play.”
It won’t be a pushover, either.
Despite a 2-5 overall record and 2-3 OVC mark, the RedHawks will present a unique challenge for UTM, especially on defense, where SEMO is good in the option system.
Quarterback Matt Scheible in an efficient runner and passer with over 1,200 total yards this season.
Scheible has rushed 98 times for 456 yards and four touchdowns, leading the RedHawks in all three categories, and has completed 73-of-139 passes for 847 yards with four TDs and four interceptions.
Simpson said the Scheible-led SEMO offense, which is averaging 327.1 yards and 16.4 points a game, is most dangerous when the game is close in the fourth quarter.
“The thing you worry about is if they get a game close in the fourth quarter, they have the best quarterback in the league in terms of making plays,” Simpson said. “They always have that threat of the option.”
Simpson is more concerned with what his team’s offense will be able to do.
While UTM is averaging 451.6 yards and 40 points a game, the Skyhawk head coach acknowledges that his offensive unit has been just so-so over the last three weeks.
“They (SEMO) are doing some good things defensively, and the last few weeks our offense hasn’t done very well,” Simpson said. “We’ve been average the last three games. It’s been a combination of things, myself included. We have to score points and not turn the ball over.”
One player was not a worry to Simpson last week, and it was a relief to the UTM offense. Jason McNair, after seeing his rushing totals go down each of the previous three games, gained 115  yards on 17 carries.
UTM will hit the road for the final three games of the 2011 season, beginning Nov. 5 at Mississippi State. The kickoff has been set at 6:30 p.m., and the game will be televised by CSS.
The Skyhawks will then close the season with two more road trips, both within the conference. UTM will be at Tennessee State on Nov. 12 and Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 19. Published in The WCP 10.27.11

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