By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
RICHMOND, Ky. -- The preseason is over and the Tennessee Tech football team is on the hunt for its 11th Ohio Valley Conference title. The Golden Eagles open their 2017 OVC slate on Saturday as they travel to Richmond, Ky., to take on the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
Kickoff on Saturday is slated for 5 p.m. Central. Roger Ealey and Dylan Vazzano will provide the call on 98.5 KISS FM, while Eastern Kentucky's radio crew of Greg Stotelmyer and Jim Tirey will cover play-by-play and analyst duties for the OVC Digital Network.
Here's what Tech head coach Marcus Satterfield had to say at this week's press conference:
This marks the 74th meeting between the Tennessee Tech football team and Eastern Kentucky, which will tie the Middle Tennessee series as the second-longest run in Golden Eagle history. The longest is the 82-game series against Murray State, which will increase to 83 games on November 11 … The Golden Eagles are 20-53 against the Colonels, including 3-7 in the last 10 meetings … Tech is also looking to avoid its 500th loss in the program's history … The loss to Ball State marked the first three-game losing streak for head coach Marcus Satterfield in his two-year tenure so far.
SCOUTING THE COLONELS
Eastern Kentucky comes into the contest with an 0-2 record, following defeats to Football Bowl Subdivision teams Western Kentucky and Kentucky … The Colonels, so far, are much more pass heavy, but that could be skewed considering the opponents they have faced. Tim Boyle has thrown for 522 yards and three touchdowns, while completing 53 of his 81 passes. Ryan Markush has caught 17 passes for three touchdowns and 205 yards (an average of 102.5 yards per game), while Neiko Creamer has caught 14 passes for 161 yards (80.5 yards per game) … EKU has struggled to establish its run game thus far, with L.J. Scott rushing 17 times for 65 yards in two games and Jason Lewis adding 39 yards on nine carries … Defensively, EKU is led by Kobie Grace (20 tackles, two pass breakups) and Jeffrey Canady (19 tackles, 1.5 sacks) … Even against FBS competition, the Colonels have collected seven sacks for 51 yards and 18 tackles-for-loss for 74 yards.
The Golden Eagles dropped a 28-13 decision at Mid-American Conference foe Ball State, falling to 0-32 against FBS competition. However, it was the closest a Tech team has fared against the higher tier since a 42-32 loss at Ohio on Sept. 22, 1990.
With redshirt freshman Andre Sale confirmed as the Golden Eagles' starter following the Western Illinois game, the Little Rock, Ark., product has flourished in the quarterback slot, posting perhaps his best game to date against Ball State. Statistically, the honor stands as the Kennesaw State game, but against the Cardinals, Sale showed poise and toughness as he threw for 239 yards on a 19-for-34 day. The lone interception came on a fluke as the ball bounced off of a player and into the arms of a Ball State defender.
For the season, Sale has thrown for 759 yards and four touchdowns on 61-of-98 passing. He is averaging 253 yards per game and has a 130.57 efficiency rating.
Andrew Goldsmith put together a solid game against Ball State, compiling 121 yards of total offense against the Cardinals, including 64 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, as well as 57 receiving yards on two catches. Goldsmith currently leads the Golden Eagles with 135 rushing yards, an average of 45 per game.
BYRD THE WORD
Dontez Byrd, for the second time in three games, was held under 100 yards receiving as he collected 93 yards on seven catches against Ball State. However, he continued his 100-yard all-purpose streak back to two games as he had 110 all-purpose yards against the Cardinals. Byrd continues to be the Golden Eagles' top receiver, catching 20 passes for 278 yards, an average of 13.9 yards per catch and 92.7 yards per game.
AIRING IT OUT
And one of the biggest reasons that Byrd's numbers may be slightly lower is that through three games, Sale has thrown passes to 15 different receivers – 12 of which are into double-digit yardage and two in triple-digits.
TAKING IT AWAY
After two games without forcing turnovers to begin the season, the Golden Eagles started to reverse that trend with three turnovers against Ball State. Elliott Normand and Clay Davis each picked off a pass against the Cardinals, while Normand forced and Joe Robertson recovered a fumble.
HOLDING THE LINE
Four players have nearly half of the Golden Eagles' total tackles as Elliott Normand (11-19—30), Aderick Moore (14-14—28), Deontay Wilson (4-21—25) and Clay Davis (10-10—20) have combined for 103 of Tech's 230 total stops.
Junior Nick Madonia earned Ohio Valley Conference co-Specialist of the Week honors on Sunday as he had a strong outing against Ball State. Madonia was 2-for-2 on field goals and connected on his lone PAT, but it was his effort punting that helped earn the nod. Madonia averaged 46 yards on four punts, had a 58-yard punt and pinned the Cardinals inside the 20 twice.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information