Column: They can win this weekend

Let me get this out of the way. Eastern could win all of its remaining three games this season; however, this weekend’s football game is its best chance to win a game.

Austin Peay is one of the weaker teams in the Ohio Valley Conference, and Eastern can beat.

Peay has two talented running backs, but the Panthers have seen enough talented running backs this season that they are used to trying to stop them.

Eastern’s defense has been the most consistent part of the team this season, and that is not going to change.

The defense is one of the best in the OVC.

All season the Panther defense has been waiting for some offensive production. Well, Saturday we got to see just what the offense is capable of. at least the pass offense.

Freshman quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He threw for more than 300 yards. At times, he looked as experienced as any quarterback, executing play action plays to perfection for touchdowns.

His ability to deliver accurate passes to his receivers kept Eastern in the game against a high-scoring Murray State team.

The passing game was there Saturday, but the running game wasn’t. This hasn’t been a trend this season, though. The Eastern running backs have been the players carrying the offense this season.

But not lately.

The Eastern running backs have struggled to gain more than 30 yards in the past few games, but that was due in large part to the sacks the offensive line was giving up.

Last week, the offensive line kept the sacks to a minimum, which is a positive sign.

If the offensive line can start opening up gaps for the running backs, and the passing game can stay strong, the Panthers are set to win this weekend.

Austin Peay is much more of a running team than a passing team. If Eastern can stop the run, they’ll force them to pass.

Sure, Peay has some talent passing the ball and catching it, but it is nowhere near as much as they have running it.

This weekend, stopping the run and establishing the run will be the most important things in the game.

If Eastern stops the run, then it will be in good shape.

If Eastern establishes a successful running game that accounts for at least two touchdowns or 100 yards, then they will probably win this game.

The Austin Peay defense is nothing special, so Garoppolo’s confidence should soar some more as he passes for another 300 yards.

If Eastern’s offense gains 400-plus total yards, it is game over.

Alex McNamee can be reached

at 581-7944 or [email protected]