#29 Tennessee State FCS Football 2012 Preview

Tennessee State Tigers

Overall Rank: #29
#4 Ohio Valley
Tennessee State FCS College Football 2012 Team Preview
Tennessee State Team Page


Tennessee State’s defense failed them throughout the 2011 campaign. They allowed 35 points against Jackson State, 58 to Murray State, 63 to Air Force, 33 to Eastern Kentucky and 38 in another loss to Jacksonville State. Even when the Tigers won, they often had to win in a shootout, like their 42-40 win over Tennessee Tech and their 35-30 victory over Tennessee-Martin. This team can score points and, with nine starters returning on offense, they could score more points in 2012, but the defense has to improve and that may be tough with some key losses.

2011 Record: (5-6, 4-4)
2011 Postseason: None
Coach: Rod Reed (8-14 at Tennessee State, 8-14 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Jones
Defensive Coordinator: Osita Alaribe and Justin Roberts

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Trabis Ward, RB, 978 yards
Passing: Michael German, QB, 1,899 yards
Receiving: Devin Wilson, WR, 586 yards
Tackles: Dan Fitzpatrick, S, 69
Sacks: Antonio Harper, DE, 6.5
Interceptions: Steven Godbolt, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: C Sherman Carter, G Kadeem Edwards, OT Roger Gaines, WR Travis James, LB Wilson Robinson, TE Wesley Samuels, CB Andrew Taylor, G Anthony Woods

Key Losses: LB Rico Council, LB John Jones, DE Tyler Lusk, WR Calvin McNairl, DT Donte’e Nicholls, OT Justin Ridgeway, RB Dante’ Thomas, S Joseph Wylie

Quarterback Michael German eventually beat out veteran Jeremy Perry for the starting job last season and now this is his team. German had his highs and lows during his freshman campaign, throwing for 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. German will only get better with experience, but he already is an efficient passer who generally plays within himself. German will miss big play receiver Calvin McNairl who caught seven touchdown passes during his senior season. However, Devin Wilson is a great possession receiver and Travis James can make plays down the field. Jeremy Pryor is a solid receiver who should see his playing time increase this season. A strong offensive line gave German plenty of time to find his receivers and four starters are back, including All-OVC honorees Sherman Carter, Kadeem Edwards and Roger Gaines. That talented line will also help running back Trabis Ward. Ward was the workhorse for the Tigers and rushed for 978 yards and 11 touchdowns. Dante’ Thomas is gone after being a superb secondary rusher. Ryan Berry may have to fill that role. He may not be able to punch the ball into the end zone like Thomas, but Berry is a dangerous change of pace back who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

The defense has a ton of holes to fill in the front seven and injuries have already taken their toll. The front four will have to rebuild around defensive end Antonio Harper. But Harper is not a bad piece to build around. He led the Tigers with 6.5 sacks, but will need some help. Lamar Wallace and Detorrius Shipley are capable defensive ends, but filling in for nose guard Donte’e Nicholls and injured tackle D.J. McCellion will prove to be more difficult. Samquan Evans may be forced into a bigger role this season, but he needs to add more strength before he will be very effective in the middle of the line. The story at linebacker is much the same after the graduation of leading tackler Rico Council and John Jones. Wilson Robinson is the lone returning starter and there is very little experience returning to help him.

The Bottom Line:
Even though the pass defense was pretty bad in 2011, it could be the strong point of the defense in 2012. Steven Godbolt and Andrew Taylor are both solid corners and safety Dan Fitzpatrick is ready to take on a leadership role after tallying 69 tackles as a freshman. There is also a wealth of returning depth in the secondary. This is a team that allowed over 263 yards per game in the air in 2011, but Tennessee State hopes their youth in the secondary will turn into consistent, experienced players. The opposition may need to pass against Tennessee State as many games will again be high scoring shootouts, but Godbolt and Taylor are a year older and a year wiser and they should make it much more difficult for the opposition to throw all over the Tigers again this year. If the front seven can stop the run and get some pressure on the quarterback, the Tennessee State defense has some potential and that gives the whole team the potential to make a serious run at an Ohio Valley Conference title.

Projected Postseason: None

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 178.82 (34th in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 237.18 (33, 3)
Total Offense: 416.00 (22, 3)
Scoring Offense: 30.45 (32, 4)
Rushing Defense: 179.73 (91, 5)
Pass Defense: 263.18 (114, 9)
Total Defense: 442.91 (113, 9)
Scoring Defense: 32.82 (102, 7)
Turnover Margin: .36 (38, 2)
Sacks: 2.55 (22, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.09 (16, 3)

Madness 2012 FCS Football Recruit Rankings:
#121 Ronald Butler