University of Tennessee at Martin Skyhawks
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Mississippi
2013 - In Review
The Skyhawks were good but not great in 2013 as they finished with a 7-5 record, 5-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference (FCS). That 7-5 record would be good enough for a third place finish in the conference (tied with 11-4 Jacksonville State). Individually, UT-Martin was led by D.J. McNeil (1,092 yards, 7 TDs), Jeremy Butler (1,203 yards, 10 TDs), and Jarod Neal (1,529 yards, 9 TDs) on offense in 2013, with Ben Johnson (102 tackles), Tony Bell (80 tackles, 8 sacks), and Camaren Harris (12 passes defended, 4 INTs) leading the way on defense.
2014 - Preview
The good news for the Skyhawks is that the two QBs that split playing time in 2013 -- Jarod Neal and Dylan Favre (yes that one) -- are both back and ready to compete for the starting spot going into the 2014 season. The bad news, though, is that they are two of just a handful that return from last year's team. The Skyhawks return six players on offense and four on defense, and they must replace their starting running back, top two wide receivers, and their top tackler on defense. That's a tough task for head coach Jason Simpson: A Southern Miss graduate and eight-year head coach of the Skyhawks.
Just show up
This preview is fairly short because this game is simple for Mississippi State: Show up and play their game and they win. UT-Martin is an FCS opponent set up for Homecoming weekend to (hopefully) ensure that the Bulldogs celebrate homecoming with a win, and barring some sort of Code-Croom-Alert catastrophe, that win will come to the tune of 48-10 or something in that range.
REMEMBER THE MAINE
This sort of ties into Just show up, but if I were Dan Mullen I would force my team to watch footage of the Maine disaster from 2004. This Bulldog team a decade later is LIGHT YEARS better than that one was, but the message is still important: Show up, play hard and don't take your opponent lightly or else Maine may happen again. I don't see any scenario where it does happen this November -- well, short of 44 simultaneous season ending injuries happening at once -- but it will be important for MSU to show up early and put this one away and to not start looking ahead to a big game at Alabama the following week.
Deny Dylan's revenge
It's safe to say that a win in this game would be huge for the Skyhawk program, but it would be even bigger for one former MSU QB: Dylan Favre. Favre was a part of the 2011 MSU squad before he decided to transfer out from behind the logjam of Dak Prescott, Chris Relf and Tyler Russell. Since then he's been a bit of a journeyman, heading to JUCO at Pearl River before landing at UT-Martin prior to last season. Rest assured that Dylan has this game circled on his calendar, and he will give 1000% against MSU in hopes of possibly slaying the Bulldogs in a massive upset. Favre is a talented QB, sure, but MSU should still win this one big despite his best efforts. Still, it will be important for the defense to keep in check the upset-minded nephew of Brett.