Tigers open OVC Season Against Murray State
The Tennessee State Tigers will open their 2011 Ohio Valley Conference schedule, travelling to play the Racers of Murray State.
TSU was winless in the OVC last year (0-7) for the first time since joining the conference in 1988. Murray State was the last team the Tigers faced in 2010, beating TSU 28-23 in Murray, KY.
This will be the home opener for Murray State and begins coach Chris Hatcher's second year at the helm of the Racers football program. The Racers were 6-5 in Hatcher's first year.
This is the 23rd meeting between the two programs with the series tied at 11-11. Murray State has won the last three matchups.
Tennessee State is 1-1 on the season coming off a 29-35 loss against Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis, Tennessee last week. Murray State is also 1-1 on the season after posting a 39-0 over Mississippi Valley State last week in Itta Bena, Mississippi.
Both teams have players that were honored by the OVC for their performances a week ago. Tennessee State WR/KR Travis James was named OVC Co-Specialist of the Week . James returned four kickoffs for 111 yards (27.75 yards/return) and caught three passes for 116 yards and a touchdown to account for 227 all-purpose yards on just seven total touches. The 227 all-purpose yards is the fifth-most in a FCS game this season.
Murray State's Mike Harris is the OVC Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 104 yards and two touchdowns against Mississippi Valley State.
For the second consecutive week, the Tigers will face a prolific passer named Casey. Last week it was Jackson State's Casey Therriault, this week Casey Brockman of Murray State. Brockman was named the OVC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year and has been placed on the 2011 Walter Payton Award watch list, indicative of the being the best offensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
SCOUTING TENNESSEE STATE:
The Tigers of Tennessee State suffered their first loss of the season on Saturday, falling 35-29 against Jackson State in a game played in front of 43,532 fans at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.
TSU held a 24-21 lead at halftime but managed just a safety and a field goal in the second half as JSU scored a pair of touchdowns. After rushing for 342 yards and compiling 512 total yards of offense the opening weekend against Southern, TSU was limited to just 78 rushing yards and 304 yards of total offense against Jackson State. Quarterback Jeremy Perry (12-31-2) passed for 226 yards with two touchdowns, three of his completions went to Travis James who had 115 yards receiving and one score. James also had 111 yards in kickoff returns to account for 226 all-purpose yards on the night, the fifth-highest output in the FCS on the season. For his efforts James was named OVC Co-Specialist of the Week.
Senior linebacker Rico Council had 11 tackles (7 solo), 2.0 tackles-for-loss, a sack and forced a fumble. Council is averaging 10.0 tackles/game this season, which ranks fourth in the league. As a team TSU is fourth nationally in turnover margin (+2.5/game).
Sophomore running back Trabis Ward will be looking to get back on track. Ward rushed for 141 yards in the opening game against Southern, but managed only 35 yards against Jackson State.
SCOUTING MURRAY STATE:
The Murray State Racers went on the road last week and toppled Mississippi Valley State, winning 39-0 to record its first shutout since the 2004 season (38-0 vs. UT Martin). Overall it was the first road shutout for the Racers since the 1996 season (when the Racers won the OVC Championship) when they beat rival Southeast Missouri 16-0.
Senior running back Mike Harris was named OVC Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Harris reached the 100-yard plateau for the second-straight week and for the sixth time in 11 career games at Murray State. Harris currently ranks 14th nationally with a 110.0 rushing yards/game average.
Overall the Racers rushed for 189 yards as Duane Brady had five carries for 50 yards and Tyler Lavea rushed three times for 34 yards. After struggling to open the season at Louisville, Brockman completed 21-of-33 passes for 238 yards and a score.
Sophomore defensive back Brandon Wicks had six tackles, intercepted a pass and blocked a punt that was recovered by a teammate for a touchdown.
Junior newcomer Sam Small had 10 tackles, three tackles-for-loss and a sack for MSU. That Murray State defensive unit limited the Delta Devils to just 59 yards rushing and 3-of-13 on third downs.