Panthers looking for more offense


Justin Brown

Redshirt senior quarterback Mitch Kimble throws a pass in the Panthers’ 22-20 win over Indiana State in the season opener. The Panthers host Souteast Missouri for their first OVC game of the season.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

The Eastern football team is last in total offense in the Ohio Valley Conference heading into its first OVC game of the season against Southeast Missouri.

The Panthers host the Redhawks at 6 p.m. Saturday at O’Brien Field.

While the offense has not been able to get clicking through the first three games, having just 582 yards, redshirt junior Aaron Gooch said the team is confident that they can turn it around this week.

It is hard to point the finger at one thing going wrong for the Panthers, but they are close to figuring it out.

“We ironed out a few loose ends (this week in practice),” Gooch said. “I feel like we have a good game plan going into this week.”

The last three weeks were non-conference games and had no effect on the Panthers’ OVC record, but moving forward every game is more and more important.

“This week is going to show us a lot,” Gooch said. “We have to get back on track on offense, and we feel pretty confident about that.”

Overall the Panthers have struggled to protect the quarterback, catch the ball, and essentially move up field where the defense does not have its backs against the wall. 

Two plays last week that would have been over 50-yard gains were called back due to penalties. The offense through three weeks has shown signs of life at times, but Gooch said they have not been able to be on the same page.

“Sometimes the offense is going and we get some bust from the receiver—or vice versa, sometimes the receiver is open and offensive line busts,” Gooch said. “Our main thing is we’ve got to be on one accord. Everybody’s got to be doing their job and to their best ability.”

To build on top of the struggling offense, Eastern has given up a score first and has had to play from behind.

The Panthers did not score first in their first three games against Indiana State, where they won, Northern, and then last week against Illinois State.

“We have to get our confidence early,” Gooch said. “Execution is the main thing. When we’re moving the ball, we get more confident as an offense, and we get in a rhythm.”

Like Gooch said, this week will show the Panthers a lot. Getting into a hole in the first week will force them to play catch up the rest of the season.

This week is a fresh start for the Panthers as they and the Redhawks are both 0-0, and it is a chance to get back on track and iron out what they have to.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]