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Bye Week Gives Austin Peay Time to Think About 0-6 Start
There’s not even a clear-cut way for Austin Peay to think about the bye week.
The only succinct thing is the Govs dropped their sixth straight game, and fell to 0-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference after losing to Murray State 32-12 Saturday night at Governors Stadium.
“There’s a good side and a bad side about going into this bye week,” Austin Peay coach Rick Christophel said. “The good part about it is we get a week off and get some injured guys back. We’ll go back and work on fundamentals and re-group. The bad thing is you have a sour taste in your mouth.
“For two weeks, you have to think about this game. Could we have won it? I think we could have. Should we have won it? I don’t think so. We didn’t play well enough to.”
What Christophel did was challenge the Govs to think about their commitment during the next week.
The Govs (0-6 overall) experienced success last season finishing 7-4 in Christophel’s first campaign. Now they’re feeling some pains after opening on the road against two ranked teams, and losing the first three conference games by an average score of 26.7 to 13.5.
“These kids have been resilient,” Christophel said. “They’ve made mistakes, but we all make mistakes. The one thing the kids do is come to practice every day and do the things they are supposed to do.
“But somewhere there’s a breakdown between the practice and the field. But that falls back on the guy who is leading the pack,” added Christophel, referring to himself.
Offense in a quandary
The offense continued its struggles, as it gained just 226 yards against Murray State, converted only 4-of-15 third downs, fumbled twice and threw two interceptions.
The unit still hasn’t had a running back gain more than 100 yards in a game, or a quarterback throw for more than 200 yards, and it averaged 3.4 yards a play against the Racers.
“We have no consistency at quarterback, which is not good. But it’s everything,” Christophel said. “We don’t have a go-to guy anywhere right now. I can’t blame the quarterbacks because they have a guy (wide receivers coach Marcus Gildersleeve) who only works with them half the time and it’s not his fault because he coaches another position.
“I was working with them, and not to say I was any better, but they had someone they could go to. But we’re making too many mistakes offensively and we’re not very consistent.”
The quarterbacks also work with offensive line coach Steve Haywood in the beginning of practice.
Christophel said he won’t make a choice between T.C. Jennings or Trent Caffee until looking at the game tape.
“I want to settle on one guy,” he said.
“That’s why I liked it with Gary Orr, but he’s hurt. One of those guys will have to step up and do what they’re supposed to do.”
Some good, some bad defense
The defense has shown flashes of brilliance and continued so Saturday night.
The group intercepted three passes, two by strong safety Jason Vanatta, and the first of his career by linebacker Daniel Becker. The defense also came up with a safety.
But the defense allowed Murray State to make 7-of-15 third-down conversions, go 5-of-7 in the red zone, and the defense has given up at least 300 yards in every game and more than 400 twice. The Racers gained 461.
Against the Racers, the unit didn’t tackle well.
“We were very sloppy, very sloppy with our tackling, and they will tell you that,” Christophel said.
“We missed a lot of tackles, but I think some of that is attributed to us being tired. We were very tired and we were on the football field a long time.
“But the thing we had to do was control the ball offensively, because they had a lot of weapons. We gave them way too many chances and our defense got tired.”
It all points to a team that has lost six in a row with the meat of the schedule coming up.
“We’re 0-6 and still looking for a win,” Christophel said.
“We’ve got to go to work and hope to find one. Tennessee State beat UT Martin, and even though Tennessee Tech lost to Eastern Kentucky, we’ve got murderer’s row coming up. This is one we thought we had a chance at.”
Bye week gives Govs time to think about 0-6 start
By James D. Horne, The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle