Murray State will test injury-plagued UTM
Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012 12:41 pm
By RANDY CAVIN
A total team effort is what UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson said Monday about the Skyhawks’ 51-37 win over Eastern Illinois last Saturday.
It will take that kind of effort this Saturday against Murray State as the Skyhawks have yet again been hit by the injury bug that has plagued the team this season. Junior defensive back Fred Flenorl of Memphis had successful season-ending surgery Monday at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville to stabilize his vertebrae after suffering a neck injury against EIU.
“With the amount of injuries we have had, and we have lost five starters since the first game, each week we shake out differently,” Simpson said. “We are very excited that he (Flenorl) is OK. He is going to have a normal life. As far as football is concerned, we are not even thinking about that. That is something way down the road.”
The Skyhawks go into the game 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Murray State, meanwhile, is 3-3 and 2-1. Game time is set for 3 p.m. at Murray’s Roy Stewart Stadium.
Simpson said Flenorl did not have his head down when he made the tackle on the play he got injured on. He said it was a good form tackle, but he did not quite have his feet underneath him while he was fighting off of a block.
“It was a very unfortunate that something happened in this game,” the Skyhawks’ head coach said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and he means a lot to us.”
Senior Teven Barksdale, one of the five starters who have missed some playing time due to injuries, is expected to be back on the field against the Racers. Simpson said he will used on kickoff returns.
Junior wide receiver Corey Jordan may miss another week because of an injury and tight end Ben Everett may also miss Saturday’s game, but Simpson is not ruling him out. Defensive back Taino Fears-Perez likely won’t play the rest of this year, either, after his Sept. 24 injury.
“In seven years as head coach, this is the most injury-ridden season that we’ve had,” Simpson said. “We’ve lost guys here or there (before), but not as many starters.”
The injuries on offense did not seem to slow down the Skyhawks as they scored a season-high point total against EIU. The offense put 42 points on the board while the special teams added nine.
Now the defense, which has been playing well this season, will have to make some adjustments with the injuries to the secondary. Simpson said he and his staff may have to use some different alignments to compensate for the loss of Flenorl and Fears-Perez.
The Skyhawks gave up 616 total yards of offense to the high-powered Panthers. UTM will be going up against a similar offense on Saturday. The Racers are averaging 37 points per game and are led by senior quarterback, Casey Brockman. He has a completion percentage of 70.6 and is averaging 355.7 yards per game.
“It is an advantage and disadvantage to play Eastern Illinois and Murray back-to-back,” Simpson said. “The advantages are obviously you are seeing a lot of those one back and no back sets. You are seeing two quality quarterbacks. There are also able to see you line up to stop the other team. Brockman is a good player. You have to mix it up like we tried to do this past week.”
UTM is led on defense by junior linebacker Ben Johnson. He recorded 16 tackles, the fifth straight game in which he has had double-digit tackles. Johnson currently ranks fifth nationally in tackles (12.2/game). Sophomore Tony Bell earned the CFPA’s OVC Linebacker of the Week after his career-high 12 tackle performance last week. He also had two sacks and forced a fumble. The defense forced five turnovers last week. The Skyhawks forced fumbles and had two interceptions.
UTM’s Derrick Carr climbed into 10th place on the OVC career passing list with his 312 yards against EIU.
Carr now has 6,612 career passing yards.
One of Carr’s favorite targets, senior Quentin Sims, caught nine passes for 101 yards and a touchdown and junior Jeremy Butler had six catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Murray State holds a 35-15-1 advantage in the all-time series, but UTM has won six of the last seven meetings between the two schools. Last season UTM scored 28 points in the first quarter on its way to a 48-26 victory.
The Skyhawks held Brockman to 240 yards passing last season. One thing is for certain when these two teams meet — a lot of points will be scored.
In the last 15 meetings (dating back to 1997), the winning team has scored 35 or more points in each game (and in 12 of those meetings the winning team scored 40 or more points). Published in The WCP 10.11.12