TSU game has a lot to offer UT Martin
Posted: Friday, November 11, 2011 12:02 pm
By KEVIN WEAKS
Jason Simpson doesn’t feel any need to worry about his team’s focus.
UT Martin has two games remaining in the 2011 football season, is still in contention for an Ohio Valley Conference championship and is playing on the road in yet another homecoming game.
“The good thing is that you’re playing with so much on the line, that the players’ attitudes are where they need to be,” the Skyhawk head coach said. “They know we have eight quarters of football left. You play four good quarters right now, then next week’s are for free because it’s like a playoff game for you. And, that’s what it could be.”
UTM (5-4, 4-2 OVC) will travel to Nashville to play Tennessee State at LP Field, kickoff Saturday set for 5 p.m.
Needing wins and a lot of outside help to hope for a share of the OVC title, UTM got some of that last week — not that the head coach was spending too much time on scenarios with Mississippi State looming.
“All you can ask for is to have control of your own destiny in league play,” Simpson said. “I hadn’t really gone over the scenarios before this week, but in the back of my head, the things that needed to happen last week did. We needed EKU to win on the road, and they did. We needed Murray to beat (Tennessee) Tech, and they did. So, mathematically, it kept us alive for another week.
“Now, we have to go win on the road. That’s what it comes down to. We don’t have the luxury of playing at home. We have two games on the road, and that’s what it comes down to.”
Doing that won’t be easy.
Tennessee State has won three of its last four to up its record to 4-5 and 3-3.
Sophomore running back Trabis Ward leads the Tigers with 761 yards and nine touchdowns on 149 carries, while freshman Mike German has stepped into the quarterback role and thrown for 1,382 yards and eight touchdowns, hitting 99-of-183 passes.
The offense runs behind a huge line that has helped the team gain 412 yards and score 31.6 points per game.
“They’ve played better each week,” Simpson said. “They don’t turn the ball over, so they have a chance to win each week. When they don’t turn the ball over, they’re very sound. They now have a freshman quarterback who makes a lot of plays.”
Simpson said improvements were needed on his defensive unit after what he described as a disappointing effort against Mississippi State last week.
The coach praised the effort but said the execution was bad, missed assignments being the biggest problem.
Simpson was, however, encouraged by his offense’s ability to match up with the SEC school and run the ball well. Simpson singled out quarterback Derek Carr for his calm demeanor under fire.
Published in The WCP 11.10.11