#27 UT Martin FCS Football 2017 Preview


UT Martin Skyhawks


Overall Rank: #27

#2 Ohio Valley

Tennessee-Martin had a very good 2016 campaign, but their tough schedule caught up to them. They played non-conference games against Cincinnati, Hawaii and Georgia State. Add in losses to Jacksonville State and Tennessee State and the Skyhawks missed out on the playoffs.
2016 Record: 7-5, 6-2
2016 Postseason: None
Coach: Jason Simpson (72-54 at UT Martin, 72-54 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Bannon
Defensive Coordinator: Jordon Hankins
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jaimiee Bowe, RB, 747 yards
Passing: Troy Cook, QB, 2,321 yards
Receiving: Clayton Weathers, WR, 385 yards
Tackles: Kahlid Hagens, S, 93
Sacks: Donald Cofield, DL, 4.0
Interceptions: Kahlid Hagens, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: WR Londell Lee, OL Robert Burleigh, LB Kevin Prather Jr., S Joseph Este, LB James Gilleylen, S Tae Martin, DB Justin Jackson
Key Losses: RB Ladevin Fair, WR Ben Axline, WR Kyle Kerrick, OL Kenneth Crenshaw, LB Caleb Counce, DL Keith Jones, DL Damani Taylor
The offense returns six starters, including quarterback Troy Cook. The 6-1 senior threw for 2,321 yards and 22 touchdowns during his first year as the starter. With that year of experience under his belt, Cook should be able to boost his 55.7 completion percentage and cut back on his 12 interceptions. Five players caught at least 20 passes last year in what was a very balanced receiving corps. Caylon Weathers and Londell Lee are the only two of those five back for the 2017 season, but both are capable of emerging as go-to targets for Cook. However, if UT Martin is going to spread the ball around as much as they did last year they do have some decent options, most notably the oft-injured Tyler Eddings. The balance of this offense was prevalent in the ground game too with Jaimiee Bowe and Ladevin Fair both having very productive seasons. Fair is gone now, so Jaimiee Bowe could see a larger workload after rushing for 747 yards and seven scores in 2016. Marquez Grayson and Ladarius Galloway should both get some carries and attempt to replace Fair’s production.
Three starters return in the front six of Tennessee-Martin’s 3-3-5 defense. Jay Murphy will man the nose tackle spot again and the Skyhawks have quality depth there with Donald Cofield, who could also spend time on the end, especially if probable new starters Anthony Brown and Mike Turner are not getting to the quarterback. Linebackers Kevin Prather and James Gilleylen will help out the new look line. Prather ranked second on the team with 71 tackles and Gilleylen was fourth with 65. The secondary is loaded with experience and talent. Safety Kahlid Hagens led the team with 93 tackles and four interceptions. He will be a candidate for OVC Defensive Player of the Year accolades. Fellow safeties Joseph Este and Tae Martin are big time playmakers too and combined to tally 120 tackles and five interceptions. Senior Justin Jackson and Marshall transfer Antavis Rowe should emerge as a talented cornerback duo.
The Bottom Line:
The non-conference slate is not quite as tough this season, but there are still trips to Ole Miss and Chattanooga. The good news on the schedule front is that both Tennessee State and Jacksonville State come to UTM. Those are both winnable games at home and that matchup against Jacksonville State on November 11th could have OVC title and playoff implications.
Projected Postseason: None
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 154.3 (61st in nation, 5th in conference)
Passing Offense: 229.9 (45, 5)
Total Offense: 384.3 (60, 5)
Scoring Offense: 32.3 (27, 2)
Rushing Defense: 128.3 (24, 2)
Pass Defense: 194.1 (37, 2)
Total Defense: 322.4 (18, 2)
Scoring Defense: 24.0 (35, 2)
Turnover Margin: -0.17 (68, 4)
Sacks: 2.25 (40, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.25 (22, 1)
HERO Sports 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#85 Legend Brumbaugh
#115 Dresser Winn
#166 Christian LaBreche
#180 Deylon Williams
#183 Colton Dowell