COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- For the second time in three weeks, the
Tennessee Tech football team will play up in the ranks, facing
their second Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent when they
travel north to face the Western Michigan Broncos.
It will be the first-ever meeting on the gridiron between the two schools. Kickoff in WMU's Waldo Stadium is 6 p.m. CDT.
Golden Eagles fans have a couple of options to follow Tech at Western Michigan, including listening to the broadcast on the Golden Eagle Sports Network. In addition to the flagship station WHUB and the network affiliates, the game may also be heard on either the telephone or the Internet on Teamline.
Another option is to watch the web stream of the game, being produced by Western Michigan, and available on OVCsports.TV. For information, or to subscribe, visit OVCsports.com.
Tech and Western Michigan have identical 2-1 overall records, and each is 1-0 in conference play. Western Michigan opened the year with a 47-24 loss at Nebraska, and rebounded with a 29-26 Mid-America Conference victory over Northern Illinois. Last week, WMU defeated Idaho, 51-28.
The Golden Eagles opened with a 28-12 win over Gardner-Webb, before falling at FBS Louisville, 51-10. Last Thursday, Tech rebounded from that loss with a 29-27 Ohio Valley Conference win at Southeast Missouri.
The two schools have one other thing in common -- Gary Darnell served as head coach of both teams. Darnell directed Tech from 1983 to 1985, and wound up as head coach at WMU several years later after stops at Florida, Texas and Notre Dame.
Current Golden Eagle coach Watson Brown posted his 100th career victory as a head coach when Tech downed Southeast Missouri. Runningback Henry Sailes and placekicker Justin Kraemer each earned OVC Player of the Week honors for their roles in the win at SEMO. Sailes was named the OVC Offensive Player of the Week, while Kraemer earned Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Some of the items included in this week's game notes:
HIGH-RANKING -- Tech leads the Ohio Valley Conference in two categories -- rushing defense and fewest sacks against. Tech is allowing a league-low 132.7 yards per game on the ground. The Golden Eagles are ranked second in total defense (345.7 ypg) and second in kickoff returns 25.6 ypc). Tech is third in punting, first in fourth down conversions and second in quarterback sacks.
** Individually, Henry Sailes ranks first in the OVC in receptions per game, fourth in all-purpose yards and eighth in rushing. Justin Kraemer is first in the league in field goals per game and field goal percentage, and third in scoring among kickers.
** Defensively, Corey Reed ranks fourth in the OVC in tackles per game and Maurice Smith ranks seventh. Taron Ryce is second and Corbin Miles is fourth in passes defended.
GRADE A--Two returning Golden Eagles earned academic honors last season -- defensive tackle Bradley Thompson and offensive lineman Taylor Askew earned first-team Academic All-District honors, sponsored by ESPN The Magazine. In addition, Thompson was named to the 10th annual Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association Academic All-Star Team.
NOW FOURTH--Junior quarterback Lee Sweeney has climbed into fourth place in career passing yards with 4,267 yards, and needs just 54 yards to catch Mike Jones in third place. He's 367 yards shy of Grant Swallows in second place. The record of 6,032 by Robert Craft is also within his grasp during his career -- he needs 1,765 in the next two years to break that standard. To put those numbers in perspective, Sweeney passed for 2,292 yards in 11 games as a freshman and 1,453 yards in his injury-shortened sophomore season.
LOWERY LOWDOWN -- Backup quarterback Josh Lowery was pressed into service at Southeast Missouri and led Tech for the finish of the game-winning scoring drive. Lowery took over for an injured Lee Sweeney and connected on a couple of passes, setting up the winning TD. He finished the game 4-for-5 for 30 yards. This season, the junior has completed 76.9 percent of his passes (10-for-13) for 80 yards and one touchdown. Last season, before being sidelined with a hand injury, Lowery played in three games including two as the starter. He finished up a win against Murray State when Sweeney was injured, then started and led Tech to a 13-10 win at UT Martin. He started agianst APSU and had Tech in command before being injured, and the Golden Eagles went on to lose the game. Lowery is 1-1 as Tech's starter.
MULTI-PURPOSE MAN -- Sophomore Henry Sailes had 171 all-purpose yards in the opening game against Gardner-Webb and 164 all-purpose yards at Southeast Missouri. Last season he earned a spot on the OVC All-Freshman team after ranking third in the league in kickoff returns with 26.4 yards per try. He was second on the team in rushing yards (222) while averaging 10.9 yards per carry. He was also third in receiving with 20 catches for 119 yards. He finished with 919 all-purpose yards. He had a 76-yard touchdown scamper and a 67-yard return against Auburn. He accounted for 183 all-purpose yards against Murray State, then topped that with 212 all-purpose yards ? on only six plays ? against Tennessee State. In that game, he had 98 yards on three rushing attempts, caught one pass for 23 yards, and returned kicks for 45 and 46 yards. His 71-yard run against TSU was Tech's longest run of the 2007 season. In the first three games this season, Sailes has 357 all-purpose yards, and ranks fourth in the OVC with 119 yards per game.
ALREADY THERE -- With 20 catches in three games, Henry Sailes has matched his 2007 season total of 20 receptions.
STEPPING IN and UP -- Redshirt freshman Scott Schweitzer started at tackle for Tech at Southeast Missouri, and true freshman Malcolm Jones played most of the game at center in place of starter Peter Taylor, who suffered a first quarter hand injury.
RUN STOPPERS -- Tech ranked third in the OVC in rushing defense and fourth in total defense last year. After three games this year, Tech is first in the league against the run (132.7) and second in total defense (345.7). The Golden Eagles held their opponents to 147.8 yards per game on the ground, and 375.4 yards per game in total offense in 2007. Tech held two opponents to less than 100 rushing yards last year ? Concordia had 51 yards on 43 attempts and Murray State tried 23 times and gained 66 yards. This season, Tech limited Gardner-Webb to just 45 rushing yards on 34 attempts. It was the 35th time since 1999 that Tech has held its opponent under 100 rushing yards in a game.
REED MY LIPS - Senior linebacker Corey Reed posted his fourth career double-digit game in tackles, making 12 stops at Southeast Missouri. He also opened the year with 12 tackles against Gardner-Webb. His career-high is 15 stops last year against Tennessee State. At Louisville, Reed led Tech with seven tackles and recovered a fumble. He leads the team and ranks fourth in the league with 31 tackles in three games.
TARON'S A TERROR -- Junior cornerback Taron Ryce tied a school record when he broke up four passes at Southeast Missouri. He also had a career-high eight tackles against the Redhawks. Ryce had two interceptions at UT Martin last season, giving him three for his career. He had 48 total tackles last season and a blocked PAT attempt. He led the team with six passes defended and tied for the team-lead with two interceptions.
INTRODUCTIONS, PLEASE -- Two true freshmen filled starting roles at Southeast Missouri and played well in their first career starts. Kedrick Towles was the starter at an outside linebacker position and made two tackles, while Richmond Tooley started at a corrnerback spot and made three tackles.
MMM GOOD STUFF -- Freshman punter Nick Campbell only kicked twice at SEMO, but he managed 44.5 yards in the two kicks, including a crucial 49-yard kick late in the game that pinned the Redhawks deep in their own territory. Campbell has now punted 11 times, and has avaeraged 37.1 yards per kick.
THAT'S THE WAY, DONTEY -- With just 18 seconds to play before halftime and the game tied at 17-17, true freshman Dontey Gay returned a SEMO kickoff 63 yards from his own four-yard line, giving the Golden Eagles the opportunity to take the lead into intermission after Justin Kraemer's 51-yard field goal.