Skyhawks now seek at-large invitation

Skyhawks now seek at-large invitation

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 12:00 pm

By RANDY CAVIN
Press Sports
UT Martin needs help if the Skyhawks are to have a chance for an at-large bid to the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
With the Skyhaks’ loss to Tennessee Tech in overtime Saturday, Eastern Illinois won the Ohio Valley Conference with its win over Southeast Missouri, so now the Skyhawks must beat Tennessee State on Saturday.
A win over the Tigers could a long way with the selection committee’s decision.
The committee has not always been too kind when giving out at-large bids to OVC teams. However, with 20 teams now in the field, the OVC has a better chance to have more than one team in the playoffs.
Two teams made it out of the OVC to the 2011 playoffs. Eastern Kentucky received the automatic bid as the conference champion and TTU got an at-large invite.
UTM, EKU and TSU are all vying for an at-large bid. EKU has competed its season and is 6-2 in the OVC and 8-3 overall. TSU is 4-2 in the OVC and 8-2 overall. The Skyhawks will enter Saturday’s game with TSU at 5-2 in the OVC and 7-3 overall.
It is not certain how UTM’s victory over Memphis will come into play considering the season Memphis has had, but a win over a bowl subdivision team by a FCS school may play a factor in the decision-making process.
First, the Skyhawks must get a win on Saturday. To do that, UTM must cut down on mistakes that have plagued them in recent weeks — namely the penalties. Twenty penalties have been called against UTM for 171 yards the last two games. A pass interference on a fourth-down play in the end zone against Tech last week resulted in a first down and allowed the Golden Eagles to score in overtime. Without that penalty, the Skyhawks would have taken over on downs and possibly come out with a win.
The botched extra point attempt after the Skyhawks scored gave Tech a one-point victory and EKU the automatic bid in the FCS playoffs.
Derek Carr and company have had some big games in recent weeks. If Carr, receivers Quentin Sims and Jeremy Butler can keep performing like they have been, then the Skyhawks can put some points on the board.
However, UTM cannot keep relying on the offense to outscore opponents. The defense needs to step up, make some big stops and create some turnovers. Tech quarterback Darian Stone hurt the defense on numerous occasions with his running ability. He gained 190 yards on 25 attempts against the defense.
Stone also completed 16 passes for 277 yards. The only turnover the defense got was an interception by Jett Howard.
TSU quarterback Michael German is averaging just over 239 yards per game in passing and has thrown 15 touchdowns. He is a mobile quarterback and has been sacked 14 times for a loss of 99 yards. If the defense can put some pressure on German, then the Skyhawks could force him to make some errant throws. German has been picked off eight times this season.
The defense will also have to worry about the Tigers’ ground game. Running back Trabis Ward has rushed for 1,316 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is averaging 131.6 yards a game.
This very well could be Carr’s last game as a Skyhawk. Carr has had a tremendous season thus far with 3,000 yards passing, 28 touchdowns and a 64.8 completion percentage. He torched Tech last week for 422 yards and four touchdowns. Published in The WCP 11.15.12

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