By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- In the midst of a tough start, the Tennessee Tech football team continues to push on, ready to hit the road once again as they head to Cape Girardeau, Mo., to take on Southeast Missouri for a 1 p.m. Ohio Valley Conference contest on Saturday.
Despite the 0-6 start to the season, there's still several things for the Golden Eagles to play for as the 2017 campaign winds down, but the focus this week is trying to get that first win under their belts -- and the Redhawks are a good opportunity to attempt that. In the teams' 25 meetings, the Golden Eagles hold a 15-10 record, including winning seven of the last 10 contests.
However, it was a close contest between the two teams last season in Cookeville, with Tech escaping with a 21-20 Homecoming win. SEMO kicker Ryan McCrum missed two field goals in the contest and the Redhawks beat the Golden Eagles in offensive yards, but it was the Golden Eagle defense that came through, keeping points off the board and adding them too as Elliott Normand returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
But that was last year. Now the Golden Eagles are focused on this year's matchup. Southeast Missouri comes into the game with a 1-4 record and back to work following a bye week. The Redhawks earned their lone win in their last outing, knocking off Eastern Kentucky 29-10.
Here's what head coach Marcus Satterfield had to say about this week's contest, as well as last week's 24-23 loss to Eastern Illinois, during this week's press conference:
SETTING THE SCENE
Tonight's game marks the 26th meeting between Tennessee Tech and Southeast Missouri, with the two teams locking horns for the first time in 1991 ... The Golden Eagles enter this contest with an 0-6 record, their longest futility streak since 1991 and have five remaining games to try to avoid the program's third winless season -- 1984 and 1986 being the other two ... The Golden Eagles are the last Ohio Valley Conference team that is winless in league play.
SCOUTING THE REDHAWKS
Southeast Missouri is coming off of an open date, following a 29-10 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 30, the Redhawks' lone win of the season ... SEMO dropped a 38-16 decision at FBS Kansas, then was shocked by Dayton in the final seconds to fall 25-23. Southern Illinois beat the Redhawks 35-17, then SEMO lost its OVC opener at Eastern Illinois 19-16 ... Jesse Hosket has thrown for 912 yards and five touchdowns on 96-for-180 passing with six interceptions ... Marquis Terry has rushed for 540 yards and five touchdowns on 120 carries ... The receiving tandem of Kristian Wilkerson and Trevon Billington has combined for 54 catches for 680 yards and four touchdowns ... The Redhawks have been outscored 127-101 in five games ... SEMO has a zero turnover ratio -- six interceptions to six passes intercepted and four fumbles recovered to four fumbles lost ... Offensively, the Redhawks are averaging 147.2 yards on the ground, 182.4 through the air. (Tech is allowing an average of 220.8 rushing and 195.7 passing).
BREAKING THE STREAK?
The 0-6 start for the Golden Eagles is the first time Tech has started a campaign with six straight losses since the 1991 season. The Golden Eagles lost six straight games to open that season – at Chattanooga, at Ohio, at Samford, vs. Eastern Kentucky, at UT Martin and at Southeast Missouri before picking up a home victory against Austin Peay to end the stretch. Tech finished 2-6 that season, 2-4 in OVC play.
FINALLY STRIKING FIRST
The 14 points Tech scored in the first quarter against Eastern Illinois were the first points the Golden Eagles have scored in the opening quarter in the 2017 campaign.
FOURTH QUARTER TEAM
Through the first six games of the season, Tech is getting outscored 178-92, which includes getting outscored 37-14 in the first quarter, 45-7 in the second and 61-26 in the third. Tech has been able to outscore its opponents 45-35 in the fourth.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Andre Sale has put together solid passing numbers through the first five games, collecting a cumulative 1,375 yards and seven touchdowns on 113-of-186 passing. He is averaging 229.2 yards per game. With a less-potent effort against Eastern Illinois, Sale fell below pace of Michael Birdsong's 2016 record total of 2,577 passing yards with an approximate 2,521-yard tally.
BYRD THE WORD
However, the Golden Eagles do have one player who is still looking at a record pace. Dontez Byrd has caught 45 passes for 665 yards through the first six games, and is on pace for a 1,219-yard season, possibly surpassing his record 933 yards and also on pace for a potential-record 83 catches. With five games remaining, Byrd needs 268 yards to tie his record, an average of 53.6 yards per game.
Elliott Normand, Aderick Moore, Deontay Wilson, Clay Davis, Chris McElderry and Deven Sullivan have created a pretty solid defensive unit with the group adding up for 249 of the team's total 452 tackles with three interceptions, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.
MADONIA BACK ON TRACK
After missing two field goals against Jacksonville State, Nick Madonia was able to kick three out of four through the uprights, including one for a season-long 51 yards against Eastern Illinois. Despite being 0-for-4 from 40-to-49 yards, Madonia is perfect in 50-plus tries. He is also a perfect 11-for-11 on PATs, as well as averaging 43.8 yards per punt with 12 inside the 20 and nine with lengths of 50 yards or more.
CONTROL THE SACKS
The Tech quarterbacks have been sacked 19 times for 138 yards this season, while the Golden Eagle defense has sacked the QB twice for four yards. Offensively, it is an improvement on last season, allowing 24 for 168 at this same point last season. Defensively, Tech sacked the opponent nine times for 48 yards last year at this time.
Following tonight's game at Cape Girardeau, Mo., the Golden Eagles will get to relax a week for their open date. Tech returns home on Oct. 28 to host Tennessee State as three of the last four contests of the season are at Tucker Stadium. The Golden Eagles face TSU (10/28), Austin Peay (11/4) and UT Martin (11/18) at home, and travel to Murray State (11/11).
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information