Dameron scouts Governors’ defense, offense

Aldo Soto, Sports Editor

Eastern running back Shepard Little missed the Panthers’ Tuesday practice and head coach Kim Dameron said the red-shirt junior’s status for Saturday’s game is still unknown.

“He’s getting better – he didn’t practice, but we’ll see,” Dameron said. “Right now we don’t have an idea on his availability for this weekend, but he’s getting treated.”

Little had three carries against Illinois State on Saturday and did not play for most of the game after limping off the field twice. Dameron said it is a lower-leg injury for Little, but that it is not something to be worried about long term.

“We’ll see if he practices Wednesday, if he practices, and see what he can do Thursday,” Dameron said. “It’s just going to depend on him and how he is feeling.”

The 1:30 p.m. start Saturday at O’Brien Field against Austin Peay is the start of conference play for the Panthers.

Little battled through ankle injuries last season, but never missed a game. After rolling an ankle against Murray State on Nov. 9, 2013, Little rushed for a career-high 245 yards against Jacksonville State the following week.

If Little is not able to go Saturday against Austin Peay, Dameron has red-shirt seniors Taylor Duncan and Jimmy Lerra to turn to at the running back position.

The Governors’ defense has allowed an average of 211 rushing yards through their first two games, but against Chattanooga they only allowed 119.

Dameron said Austin Peay has two good defensive tackles that interrupt the opposing running game.

“Their two inside tackles Malcolm Goines and Gino Robinson really disrupt a lot and they’ve had a lot of tackles for loss,” Dameron said. “They’re physical guys and they get up field and make plays in the backfield.”

Austin Peay had nine tackles for loss against Chattanooga, as the Mocs averaged 2.2 yards per rushing attempt. Goines had two of those nine tackles for loss.

Overall, the Governors’ defense is straightforward and does not lineup any exotic formations like Dameron likes to do with the Eastern defense.

“They rock a little bit up front, but they’re not a blitz-o-rama team,” he said. “They’re not a multiple front team. They pretty much line up and play.”

Eastern’s defense on the other hand is preparing for another quarterback that has the ability to run.

As a true freshman, Darrien Boone has started his first game against Chattanooga after sharing time with red-shirt junior Trey Taylor against Memphis.

Boone has the second most rushing attempts on the team behind running back Justin Roberson. Boone threw for 124 yards against the Mocs and had a 45-yard touchdown pass Saturday.

Dameron said being a first-year player brings a lot of ups and downs and hopefully for the Panthers Boone has a down game.

“Boone is going to have moments of brilliance and he’s going to make mistakes and they know that and we know that,” Dameron said. “The thing that we have to do is we have to do is make him have a bad night.”

Although Boone has shown some upside early in the season, the Austin Peay running attack has remained stuck in neutral.

In two games the Governors have averaged 2.3 yards per carry.

Entering this year’s season Austin Peay coach Kirby Cannon switched sophomore Rashaan Coleman from wide receiver to running back.

“That’s the guy they’re excited about at running back,” Dameron said.

Coleman has not received most of the carries this season, ranking No. 3 in touches behind Boone and Roberson with 14, while rushing for 37 yards.

Cannon said he has not used Coleman as much as the Governors will in the future.

“We felt like he could give us a couple different things, but I don’t think we’ve utilized him in as many ways as we’re going to,” he said.

Eastern’s defense is ranked No. 6 in the Ohio Valley Conference, allowing 163 rushing yards per game. Austin Peay has averaged 79 rushing yards in its two games, which is last in the OVC.

Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].