#37 UT-Martin FCS Football 2015 Preview

UT-Martin Skyhawks

Overall Rank: #37
#4 Ohio Valley

UT-Martin Team Page#37 UT-Martin FCS Football 2015 PreviewBuy UT-Martin Football Tickets

Tennessee-Martin got off to a slow start last year. They began 1-5, with the lone win coming against Cumberland. The schedule was tough, but the Skyhawks just could not get over the hump. That changed in the second half of the season. UTM won five of their final six games, with the lone loss coming against Mississippi State. The bad start kept them out of the playoff picture, but Coach Jason Simpson has put out consistent winners and this group has momentum heading into 2015.

2014 Record: 6-6, 5-3
2014 Postseason: None
Coach: Jason Simpson (58-45 at UT Martin, 58-45 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: John Bond
Defensive Coordinator: Jeff Byrd

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Trent Garland, RB, 486 yards
Passing: Jared Neal, QB, 1,880 yards
Receiving: William Tanner, WR, 527 yards
Tackles: Walter Evans, S, 66
Sacks: Deantae Glover, DE, 3.0
Interceptions: Walter Evans, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: WR Kyle Kerrick, WR Rod Wright, S Taino Fears-Perez, CB Jordan Landry, S Marquis Clemons

Key Losses: RB Abou Toure, OL Charles Sweeton, OL Sam Curtis, LB Devontay Barnett, LB Tony Bell

On offense, the experience lies at quarterback and wide receiver. Jarod Neal is an efficient and effective senior signal caller who completed 63.5 percent of his passes for 1,880 yards and 14 touchdowns. Neal does a good job keeping the turnovers down and can make some plays with his legs too. But it is his arm that will do most of the damage this season, especially with all of the talent returning at wide receiver. William Tanner was Neal’s favorite target last year, catching 38 passes for 527 yards and four touchdowns. Kyle Kerrick will be another effective target. He’s a big 6-3 receiver who may not beat too many people deep, but is a nice safe target. Rod Wright and Ben Axline are the deep threats. On the other side of the ball, UTM boasts a very experienced secondary. Of the seven returning starters on defense, five come from the secondary and all five are seniors. Marquis Clemons, Walter Evans, Taino Fears-Perez, Jordan Landry and Aaron Simms should make this a very dangerous unit to deal with.

However, there is not much experience on the rest of the defense. Nick Dance will be the new leader of a decimated linebacker corps. He only started three games in 2014, but the Western Michigan transfer still totaled 56 tackles. Deantae Glover and Keith Jones form a solid duo in the front four that will be bolstered by the addition of UAB transfer Parrish Huddleston. Last year the offense was very effective on the ground, but that could change in 2015. Gone is Abou Toure, who rushed for 1,138 yards, and four starting offensive linemen. Senior Trent Garland will be asked to carry the rushing load, yet it will not result in anything good if the line fails to emerge into a cohesive unit.

The Bottom Line:
Tennessee-Martin will not back down from a tough schedule. This year they play both Ole Miss and Arkansas. Perhaps more problematic is that they host Jacksonville State early in the season. That is a huge game against the preseason favorites in the OVC. Back-to-back games against Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Illinois in the middle of November will likely be the swing games for Tennessee-Martin this season. If all goes as planned, they should be 5-3 coming into those contests and that would mean their playoff hopes ride on those big games towards the end of the season.

Projected Postseason: None

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 214.6 (22nd in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 212.4 (62, 6)
Total Offense: 427.0 (30, 4)
Scoring Offense: 29.7 (43, 6)
Rushing Defense: 159.3 (46, 4)
Pass Defense: 250.4 (98, 6)
Total Defense: 409.7 (76, 4)
Scoring Defense: 28.5 (72, 5)
Turnover Margin: -0.33 (80, 5)
Sacks: 2.00 (61, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.75 (45, 4)


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