The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Turnovers a major hurdle

The Eastern football team has the worst turnover margin in the Ohio Valley Conference at minus 15.

Turnovers had continued to be a trend for the Panther offense, despite the offense working tirelessly to learn how to prevent turnovers in practice, according to offensive coordinator Roy Wittke.

In Saturday’s loss to Tennessee Tech, Eastern committed five turnovers, including two interceptions on the final two drives of the game.

“We are all equally frustrated with the struggles we have talked about,” Wittke said.

Eastern (0-7, 0-5 OVC) has struggled on offense all season with committing too many turnovers, while the defense is one of the top teams in the OVC at forcing turnovers.

Saturday, Eastern didn’t get any turnovers. However, defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni said it is difficult to get takeaways when the opponent isn’t passing the ball at all.

Tennessee Tech had 233 rushing yards Saturday, compared to 64 passing yards. TTU ran the ball more than twice as much than they passed it.

TTU quarterback Tre Lamb passed the ball 20 times, while he ran the ball 11 times.

Garoppolo taken out of game

After starting the game 5-of-9 with two interceptions, Wittke pulled freshman quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo out of the game.

“We wanted to make sure Jimmy wasn’t in a position to lose confidence,” Wittke said. “He had a couple turnovers, so we wanted him to step back and be in the viewers role for a bit.”

Garoppolo never re-entered the game, as red-shirt sophomore quarterback Brandon Large entered the game and went 17-of-30 for 183 yards.

Large committed three turnovers – two interceptions and one fumble; however, he had the only offensive touchdown for Eastern.

Sacks piling up

TTU got to the quarterback eight times Saturday for sacks. The eight sacks accounted for 56 yards of lost yardage, going against the team’s rushing total.

The Panthers rushed for 39 yards in the game, after 56 yards – plus other lost yardage – was subtracted.

Eastern has a young offensive line, depleted through injuries; however, Wittke said the unit is growing but growing slowly.

All eight sacks can’t solely be blamed on the offensive line, Wittke said.

Wittke said in some cases the quarterback is holding onto the ball to long, when he should have thrown the ball away or passed it to a receiver.

Defense frustrated at end of half

To start the second half, the Eastern defense gave up two long drives for touchdowns; however, those two drives weren’t the most frustrating according to Bellantoni.

Bellantoni said the touchdown drive TTU had before the first half was a frustrating one.

The offense fumbled the ball at its own 18-yard line to give TTU good field position. However, Eastern’s defense came up with some big stops to force a 3rd and long play.

On the 3rd down, Eastern should’ve come up with a sack, according to Bellantoni.

“(Sophomore defensive lineman) Artavious Dowdell missed a sack and the quarterback ran for a first down,” Bellantoni said.

The first down run by Lamb, led to a TTU touchdown.

Walker seeing more action

Red-shirt sophomore running back Jake Walker transferred from Toledo at the beginning of the fall semester.

He hasn’t seen much action until the last two games that Eastern has played.

Wittke said Walker had made great strides in practice.

“Jake has come on,” Wittke said. “He is working hard in practice and is comfortable with what we are asking him to do.”

Wittke said Walker gave the team a lift in the third quarter Saturday.

Walker has 22 rushes for 55 yards this season. He has run for 53 of those yards in the last two games.

Haynes earns OVC award

After his performance in Saturday’s game as a special teams player, aside from being a starting cornerback, red-shirt senior Rashad Haynes was awarded the OVC Specialist of the Week.

He had a 46-yard punt return for a touchdown Saturday.

“He made an outstanding individual effort,” Bellantoni said.

Bellantoni said Haynes got good blocks from red-shirt freshman linebacker Antonio Taylor and freshman defensive back Pete Houlihan.

Bellantoni said Hanyes also had a big day as a cornerback. He said Haynes and senior cornerback CJ James showed how good they were against the best wide receiver in the OVC, TTU receiver Tim Benford.

“They shut Benford down when they went deep to him,” Bellantoni said.

Benford had four catches for 29 yards Saturday.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 581-7944 or [email protected].

Turnovers a major hurdle

Turnovers a major hurdle

Freshman quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looks for an open receiver as he is pressured by Southeast Missouri State red-shirt freshman defensive tackle Frankie Davis during a game on Oct. 2 at O’Brien Field. (Danny Damiani


Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

Commenting on the Daily Eastern News web site is a privilege, not a right. We reserve the right to remove comments that contain obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language. Also, comments containing personal attacks or threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
All The Daily Eastern News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest