The Tennessee State University Football team kicks off the 2022 season with a trip to Cheney, Washington for a stiff test against no, 12 ranked Eastern Washington, in the two schools first-ever matchup.
Tennessee State will van out a lot of new faces on defence, which may not be a bad thing, as they only have three starters returning from a defensive unit that allowed 26.91 poy last season, good for 4th in the OVC and 5th in the conference in total defence, allowing 364.7 yards per game. Depth on the defensive side of the ball was a real concern last season for the Tiger coaching staff, as illuminated by defensive coordinator Brandon Fisher in comments to the Tennessean:
“At any point last year we felt there were maybe 13 or 14 guys we were comfortable putting in the game; guys we viewed as starters. Now I feel like we’re close to two-deep. We’re probably at 18 to 20 guys when we’re healthy.”Brandon Fisher defensive coordinator, Tennessee State
Several transfers were brought in to help bolster that side of the ball including Houston transfer, safety Gleson Sprewell, who was named a team captain.
Although the Eastern offense averaged 44.0 ppg last year, that will not be the unit pitted against the TSU defense, as they have lost several key contributing components, among them 2021 Walter Payton Award winner and All-America quarterback, Eric Barriere, four year starter Tristan Taylor, who played move games, 60, than anyone else in well history and receiver Talolo Limo- Jones. In total Eastern Washington lost ten starters from last year’s team that went 10-3 and made the FCS playoffs.
New quarterback Gunner Talkington has big shoes to fill as assumes command a team that over the past 18 seasons has won the league and /or advanced to the postseason of least every other season.
Tennessee State will also have a new signal-caller as they lost Jeremy Hickbottom. Earlier this week head coach Eddie George named Draylen Ellis the starter for Saturday’s game. If the name sounds familiar to OVC fans that is because Ellis played at Austin Peay the past two years. Last season pleted 192 of 254 passes at Austin Peay last season and led the OVC in passing yards (2,625), passing touchdowns (19), yards per completion (13.7) and total offense per game (268.5). Ellis was co-freshman of the year and was named to the all-OVC second team in 2021.
Both teams will bring a lot of new parts to Saturday’s matchup, including at both quarterback positions. Because of this I think this game will come down to which defense can stay on task the most and which quarterback will make the fewest mistakes. In a closely contested game, Tennessee State will leave Cheney with a win.
Score : Tennessee State 21, Eastern Washington 17