Tennessee State University is red hot on a four-game winning streak but will be tested against the top team in the Ohio Valley Conference.
GEREMY HICKBOTTOM VS THE SKYHAWK PASS DEFENSE
The Tennessee State Tigers will need their senior quarterback Geremy Hickbottom to have a big day. Hickbottom has led the Tigers to number one in the conference in passing efficiency. They are averaging 213.5 passing yards per game which are good for second-best in the OVC. Not only that but also Hickbottom has only thrown three interceptions this season. The least in the conference. The Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks have been struggling to defend the passing attack.
The Skyhawk’s run defense is top notch but they are subpar when it comes to pass coverage. They have given up 16 passing touchdowns in eight games and an average of 240 yards through the air per contest. Needless to say, The Tigers need to have the ball in Hickbottom’s hands as much as possible. His go-to weapon this Saturday needs to be his senior tight-end Rodell Rahmaan. Rahmaan is averaging 20 yards per reception this season but is only getting about three catches a game. This is because the Tiger’s offense usually gets it done on the ground with star freshman running back Devon Starling and Hickbottom’s elusiveness. Tennessee-Martin’s defense will likely take the run game away from Tennessee State. Expect Rodell Rahmaan to receive more targets from Hickbottom as the team tries to beat the Skyhawks through the air.
TIGERS RUSHING DEFENSE VS SKYHAWKS RUSHING OFFENSE
The Skyhawks will be bringing the best rushing offense in the OVC to the contest on Saturday. They are averaging five yards a carry and an average of 221 rushing yards a game. They are being led by senior running back Peyton Logan who is averaging seven yards a carry and 73 rushing yards a game. Tennessee State’s junior linebacker Jahsun Bryant will likely be tasked with slowing Logan down. Bryant has been a tackle machine and is averaging almost eight a game however the Tiger’s run defense has been subpar as a unit. Bryant will need help from the defensive line. The Tiger’s junior defensive tackle Tadarius Patterson has 4.5 sacks this season and is top three in the OVC in that area. If Patterson can bring some pressure up front this Saturday, the Tigers can slow down the Skyhawks rushing attack. The game plan for Tennessee Martin will probably be to run down Tennessee State’s defense. This is a common approach for teams with outstanding run games because it will keep Hickbottom off the field and use up a lot of time. The Tigers defense cannot let that happen.
The Tigers are coming in the game as a clear underdog but Head Coach Eddie George could be key to helping them overcome. George is in his first season as head coach and the former NFL star is doing swimmingly. TSU has not been relevant this late in the year for a while and after starting out 1-3, the team is now 5-3 on a four-game winning streak. George has played and succeeded in the game of football at the highest level and it is paying off for the Tigers. If he can scheme up a plan that brings the best out of his quarterback Geremy Hickbottom and the team’s rushing defense, another win could be on the horizon.