#43 Tennessee-Martin FCS Football 2013 Preview

Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks

Overall Rank: #43
Conference Rank: #3 Ohio Valley

Tennessee-Martin Team Page#43 Tennessee-Martin FCS Football 2013 PreviewBuy Tennessee-Martin Football Tickets

UT-Martin rode the hot hands of QB Derek Carr and WR Quinten Sims in 2012 to a strong eight win season. But now the Skyhawks turn over a new leaf with those two stars, and a handful of others, gone.  Not helping a team easing into a new season looking for its identity is the fact that Tennessee-Martin faces one of the toughest schedules in the FCS. The Skyhawks face two FBS teams and a duo of FCS playoff contenders in their non-conference games and then trek through an underrated Ohio Valley. Coach Jason Simpson has his work cut out for him to repeat the success of 2012.

2012 record: (8-3, 6-2)
2012 postseason: None
Coach: Jason Simpson (45-34 at Tennessee-Martin, 45-34 Overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Carmen Felus
Defensive Coordinator: Jeff Byrd

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: DJ McNeil, RB, 402 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Jeremy Butler, WR, 750 yards
Tackles: Ben Johnson, LB, 131
Sacks: Tony Bell, LB, 4.0; Ben Johnson, LB, 4.0
Interceptions: J’Vontez Blackman, S, 2; Thad Williams, DB, 2

Other key returners: WR Dylan Davis, OL Tyler Eady, DB Camaren Harris, LB Ben Johnson, DE DJ Roberts

Key losses: QB Derek Carr, WR Quentin Sims, RB Tevin Barksdale, RB Jason McNaire

The key for the Skyhawks in 2013 has to be the defense. This team isn’t going to put up 40 points each game to outscore opponents. The defense is the dominant returning side of the ball and it has to cut down on yards and points allowed from a year ago. UTM has a core duo in the middle with linebackers Ben Johnson and Tony Bell who were 1-2 in tackles and sacks in 2012. UT-Martin will face an extremely difficult schedule but a stingy defense could keep a few games alive late and give UTM a chance at the victory.

The offense will look almost completely changed as noted in the key players leaving list. Last season Carr and Sims led the team putting up explosive number together. Now a new duo has to step up. A few receivers return, but the Skyhawks will have a new starter under center. Quarterbacks Jarod Neal, Tyler Rice and Dylan Favre (yes, he’s related) split time in spring games. The ground attack will be new as well, and ultimately with all the unknowns on this side of the ball, the offense clearly is the concern on a team heading into OVC play that sees some strong defenses.

The Bottom Line:
UT-Martin caught a few people by surprise in 2012 with Derek Carr helping the Skyhawks bolster some steep offensive numbers that won a few games that ordinarily would be tough with the numbers their defense allowed. Even with an offense that comes together quickly, it is likely the Skyhawks will struggle in 2013 with one of the toughest schedules in all of FCS Football with tough non-conference games at Chattanooga and against Central Arkansas and an early trip to the blue field at Boise State. They then hit two of the toughest OVC schools, Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Illinois, in the final two games of the season.

Projected Postseason: None

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 127.91 (85th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 299.55 (10, 3)
Total Offense: 427.45 (24, 3)
Scoring Offense: 33.55 (18, 3)
Rushing Defense: 183.82 (85, 5)
Pass Defense: 285.91 (119, 8)
Total Defense: 469.73 (113, 8)
Scoring Defense: 29.36 (78, 3)
Turnover Margin: 1.18 (7, 2)
Sacks: 2.00 (55, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.09 (15, 2)


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