Panthers seek redemption on the road

Eastern+running+back+Harrison+Bey-Buie+%28center%29+runs+the+ball+past+the+Tennessee+State+defensive+line.+Bey-Buie+ran+a+total+of+33+yards+in+Saturday+afternoon%E2%80%99s+game+at+O%E2%80%99Brien+Field.+Eastern+lost+the+game+28-0+to+Tennessee+State.

Rob Le Cates | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern running back Harrison Bey-Buie (center) runs the ball past the Tennessee State defensive line. Bey-Buie ran a total of 33 yards in Saturday afternoon’s game at O’Brien Field. Eastern lost the game 28-0 to Tennessee State.

Autumn Schulz, Assistant Sports Editor

The Eastern football team will be on the road this weekend in search of redemption against Southeast Missouri after coming off a tough Homecoming Game loss to Tennessee State.  

Head coach Adam Cushing said that he understands how the season has been going, and that it can be demoralizing for everyone, but belief and trust among his players is what will allow the team to succeed this weekend.  

“It’s really just trust and belief in each other and in ourselves and just allowing ourselves an opportunity to have fun and go succeed. I talked about it Saturday after the game, you take every game as an independent event but we are all human and it’s not just an independent event. I understand how the season has been going, we’ve been a fingernail away from some victories and now you look at the overall picture and it can be a little bit demoralizing. That does not change what we are capable of and it does not change some of the belief we have had in ourselves throughout the year.”   

The Panthers accumulated just 187 yards of total offense against the Tigers last weekend. Quarterback Otto Kuhns had a rough performance, going 10-of-25, passing for 70 yards with three interceptions. 

Watching tape of a performance that did not go the way you wanted is tough for everyone involved, but it must be done. Cushing said that true families tell each other the truth, all the time. 

“We’ve got to tell the truth all the time and true families tell each other the truth,” he said. “We have to look at what we are doing well, what we are not doing well, and that’s quite a bit and figure out why. At the end of the day that is our jobs as coaches, figure out why, and then create solutions for the young men.” 

A loss as tough as the one the Panthers faced last weekend can either put a wedge between players or draw them closer together. Cushing said that Otto and the rest of the offense have worked hard this week to come together more in order to turn that failure into something better. 

“You know I have been really proud of them. We had practice yesterday and they practiced really, really hard,” he said. “I have spent a lot of time already with Otto this week just to say hey man, I believe in you, I love you, and I just want to see you do well. What can we do better? How can we help you more? And this has been his best week so far of practice. He’s a competitive guy, he’s got a ton of personal pride in what he does, and he wants to succeed at a high level. What the offense has really done is taken that failure and used it as a reason to come together more.”  

The Panthers will certainly have their hands full again this weekend. The Redhawks are coming off a 38-30 loss to No. 13 Tennessee Martin, putting them at third in the OVC with a 2-6 record overall. 

The Redhawks rank second in the OVC for rushing offense and last in the OVC for pass defense, allowing 280 yards per game.  

Freshman linebacker Bryce Norman had a game-high 14 tackles against the Skyhawks last weekend. Norman is tied for sixth in the OVC with 6.9 tackles a game. 

The Redhawks’ offense is led by senior running back Geno Hess. Hess reached 100 rushing yards for the third straight week last weekend after putting up 137 yards on 18 carries against the Skyhawks. He ranks second nationally with 12 rushing touchdowns and fourth nationally with 899 rushing yards this season.  

Cushing said that the defense has to be at their best in order to go up against a player like Geno. 

“We just got to know where he is all the time and we’ve got to play our best when you play one of the best players, that is what you want. You play this game as an opportunity to test yourself against the best. No one plays it just to play against average competition so you want to play a great player like that. That means we have to be our best, it demands our best, and our guys can tackle him if they are at their best. If we are not at our best, we are not going to tackle him all that much.” 

 

Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]