From Cookeville, Tennessee, come TCU's second opponent of 2010, and the only 2A team on this season's schedule: the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. Your humble blogger has kept tabs on the Cookeville Herald-Citizen's reports about the Golden Eagles this fall, and provides this summary, from those pieces.
This is Watson Brown's fourth year as head coach. After a 4-7 mark in 2007 and a 3-9 finish in 2008, ’09 was the breakout. Brown’s Golden Eagles went 6-5. Tech brings back 55 lettermen from last season including 16 starters. The biggest challenge facing Brown's staff is replacing record-setting passer Lee Sweeney. "The key for our team is going to be our quarterback play and the health of our quarterbacks," Brown said.
Sophomore Tre Lamb made his first career start at quarterback Saturday against Arkansas, and played not-awful. He completed just under 50% of his passes, and didn't throw any INTs. Last season, as a redshirt freshman, Lamb was 8-for-18 for 113 yards passing. Brown describes Lamb and his backup, Cass Barnes: "Tre and Cass have played a lot in the last few seasons. They have some big shoes to fill after Lee Sweeney, but they're not inexperienced. Tre is coming in as the starter. Cass had some surgery in the spring that is slowing him down just a little bit and he's had a great summer. We will play both of those kids early on in the season, but once we get into conference play, we'll throw one out there and he'll be the guy. But right now, Tre is the starter. Tre really knows his stuff." Barnes took about ten snaps, running on most of them.
Coach Brown outlines the changes in the attack they’ll make to accommodate the changes in personnel "We're going to do a lot more ball control just dumping it out to people like Henry Sailes and Tremaine Hudson and try to get these guys the ball more. We're going to do more of that than the deep throws." The wildcat package isn't really in his plans for 2010. Lamb and Cass will work behind 3 returning starters on the line, Malcolm Jones, Scott Schweitzer and Slade Adams.
On the ground, look for KU transfer and one-time TCU target Jocques Crawford (6-1, 238) to carry the ground game. Crawford, a senior spent two weeks on the scout team last fall before he was sidelined by a shoulder injury. He missed all of spring workouts, so he was on the field Monday for the first time in a year. "I feel like I'm catching on quickly but there's always room for improvement," reported the senior. Learning Watson Brown's offensive system is foremost on Crawford's agenda. "In junior college we ran more of a pro-style offense and at Kansas, it was more of a spread offense," he said. "Here there's some of everything. I'm learning to move out of different formations." Senior Henry Sailes is Crawford’s backup.
The Golden Eagle defense includes four of Tech's five team captains in DE Charlie Seivers, DT Dedrick Miley, LB Kelechi Ordu and DB Dustin Dillehay. The defense "should be the most experienced part of our team," Brown said. There are only two slated starters with just one year of experience, sophomores Marty Jones at free safety and Caleb Mitchell at boundary corner. Says the coach, "We've played so many freshmen over the last few years that we now have an experienced team with a young team... I think, as a pair, we might have the best combination of cornerbacks in the conference in Kedrick Towles and Caleb Mitchell," Brown said "
The defensive line will be led by seniors Charlie Sievers (bear), Justin Hilliard (anchor) and Dedrick Miley (anchor). "Not one person [on the d-line] in the whole season was out there for more than six plays. That's why we were a good fourth-quarter team. Our players we fresh at that point."
The Golden Eagles have three of their top five tacklers returning in senior Dustin Dillehay (78), Caleb Mitchell (63) and junior Howard Griffin (57). Griffin, however, will miss September, recovering from ankle surgery in the spring. Brown: " We're going to give him another three or four weeks to see if he gets back. If he does, we'll play him. If he doesn't, we'll redshirt him and he's got a redshirt year. That's the only guy right now going into this first game that's been deep on our depth chart who isn't going to play."