The Defense Begins

Tennessee Tech’s football team looks to use the experience of playing the No. 4 ranked Oregon Ducks as a huge tool in conference play.
The Golden Eagles took on the Ducks last Saturday at Autzen Stadium, which has a capacity of 54,000 people.  It has often been called the loudest venue in college football. That, combined with Oregon’s No. 4 ranking, gave Tech an atmosphere and an opponent that will be hard to match when conference play opens.
Tech football begins its defense on the Ohio Valley Conference championship when the Golden Eagles open conference play in a 6 p.m. game at Southeast Missouri. It’s the first time Tech goes into a conference opener as defending champ in 36 years.
Volunteer Assistant Coach Justin Matheney said, “I think when you play an FBS school such as Oregon, your team has the opportunity to get better in all phases of the game. In conference play, when we play a hurry up team like Murray State, or a team with great athletes, we will be more accustomed and better prepared for them.”
Redshirt junior Seth McDonald said it also helps them to become a complete team.
“It gives us a chance to play against the best players we will play all year and exposes us to certain things we need to work on going into conference play,” McDonald said.
The trip to Oregon was the first in a string of three straight road games for the Golden Eagles.  
The trip to Autzen may make some of the more boisterous crowds in the OVC seem more bearable.
“That is one of the most feared venues in all of college football,” Matheney said.  “We shouldn’t have to deal with it on that level the rest of the year, but there are some rowdy crowds in the OVC.  We should be more accustomed to playing in front of a hostile atmosphere now.”
McDonald said, “We will not play anywhere near as loud, and that will help us from a poise standpoint.”
The game Sunday features two of the OVC winners from the past three years, as SEMO took the OVC crown in 2010. Tech has won five of the last six in the series including last season’s 38-21 at home.
Including the game against Oregon, Tech averages more than 32 points a game and 400 yards of total offense. Quarterback Tre Lamb is fourth in the nation in passing efficiency despite only throwing for 46 yards in the game against Oregon. He has 659 passing yards on the year to go along with eight touchdowns and only two interceptions. Running back Adam Urbano averages 104 yards per game on the ground, which leads the team. University of Tennessee transfer Da’Rick Rogers leads the team in receiving with 11 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Senior linebacker Howard Griffin leads the defense with 27 total tackles and one interception.