Panthers hope Homecoming will be antidote to lengthy losing streak

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The Eastern football team will look to entertain a Homecoming crowd when it plays host to Tennessee-Martin this weekend.

Both teams are coming off of tough losses. The Panthers gave up a fourth-quarter lead en route to a road loss to Murray State, while the Skyhawks lost by three points to South Alabama in a non-conference match-up.

Eastern head coach Bob Spoo said his team has been preparing hard for Tennessee-Martin, a successful team in both running and passing the ball.

“We’re playing a very fine Tennessee-Martin team that can not only throw the ball, but can run the ball as good as anybody,” Spoo said.

With the amount of weapons Tennessee-Martin has on its team, the Panthers must play their best if they want to be in contention, Spoo said.

“We’re in for a long afternoon unless we play well,” he said.

Spoo said Tennessee-Martin is incredibly effective on offense, not only on the ground, but through the air.

Spoo said the Skyhawks are talented at both running and passing the ball.

Though, Eastern has weapons of its own, with junior wide receiver Chris Wright, who was able to record two touchdowns in last week’s loss. Spoo said Wright is exactly what a coach looks for in a wide receiver.

“He’s got the speed that you’re looking for at that position and he’s been playing for a couple of years now, so he’s an experienced player,” he said.

Spoo said sophomore quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo relies on Wright when passing the ball.

“I think Jimmy (Garoppolo) does look to him to be able to make a play and he’s been able to do that,” Spoo said.

Tennessee-Martin features a duo of running backs in Tevin Barksdale and Jason McNair. Spoo said the Panthers will prepare for each running back the same way.

“You prepare the same way for both,” said Spoo. “You just hope that you can get off blocks and swarm to the ball, hit that guy and try and get a turnover the best you can.”

Spoo said the team’s game plan is simple: stop the run.

“You have one game plan: try and stop the run regardless of who that is,” he said.

The Panthers and the Skyhawks will square off at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday at O’Brien Field.

 

Dominic Renzetti can be reached at 581-7942 or [email protected]