While the Florida Gators were taking the day off last Thursday in the middle of their bye week, their opponent this Saturday, UT Martin, was opening its season with an impressive and complete victory at home over Northwestern State.
After trailing 20-14 at the half, the Skyhawks came out hot in the second half, outscoring Northwestern State 28-0 to pull away with a 42-20 win.
It was a promising start to the season for a team that went 2-9 and 0-6 in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2018.
“I’m very proud of our defense,” UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson said. “In the first half, Northwestern State kind of got after us. Statistically, they had 300-something yards and they had a great game plan getting the ball out quick. Their quarterback is a good player – I was very impressed with him. Our defensive staff made some adjustments and the kids adjusted to that. We didn’t give up a point in the second half – that’s awesome.
“We adjusted some things on offense and wanted to slow it down a little bit to keep the offense off the field. We were bend but not break in the second half, but you knew when they throw it enough that eventually they were going to find one of those seams. It was a great team win. You heard me talk in camp about the senior leadership and guys hanging together, playing as a team. That’s what I saw out there today.”
Cornerback Wayna Moton was named OVC defensive player of the week for his performance. He had seven tackles and two interceptions, returning one 78 yards for a touchdown in the second half.
Terry Williams was named OVC specialist of the week after accounting for 199 all-purpose yards, highlighted by a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second half.
The UT Martin defense is led by its veteran linebackers — seniors TJ Jefferson and Sherrod Pittman. In the opener, the two combined for 23 tackles, 2.5 tackles for losses, one sack and two pass breakups.
On the other side of the ball, the Skyhawks are led by two first-year staters in quarterback John Bachus III and running back Peyton Logan. Both had impressive debuts in the opener.
Bachus completed eight of 20 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. The TDs came on a 39-yard strike to Colton Dowell and a 43-yard pass to Jaylon Moore.
Logan was the ground game for UT Martin, rushing for 149 yards on just 13 carries, an average of 11.4 yards per rush.
The Skyhawks are strong on special teams and are led by Williams, one of the most explosive return men in the OVC. He’s also a threat as a wide receiver.
As for Saturday night’s game in The Swamp, it will be the third year in a row that UT-Martin has ventured into SEC territory. The two previous games were blowout losses.
The Skyhawks fell 45-23 at Ole Miss in 2017 and lost to Missouri 51-14 last season. In the loss to the Tigers, UT Martin had no answer for Missouri quarterback Drew Lock, who threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns. The Tigers rolled up 558 yards of total offense.
This will be the first meeting between Florida and UT Martin. The Gators will play another first-time opponent on Sept. 28 in Towson.
Saturday night’s game will be a homecoming for UT Martin defensive line coach Clint McMillan, who played defensive tackle for the Gators in 2004-07 when UF coach Dan Mullen was the UF offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer.
OK, I don’t know ’bout the rest of you guys…..but as for this Gator, I’m quaking in my boots. Good grief, this must be Foley’s fault! How could he have scheduled such a sleeping giant as UT-Martin to show up when the Gators are so vulnerable? Well, there goes the season! 😜
Now with that said, of course TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED. However, if I see anymore arm tackling, erratic pass defense, and high school quarterbacking, I’ll no doubt need to go to Walmart Sunday for a new TV.
Good thing they went with the SKyhawks. Otherwise, people would have confused them with the GroundHawks. Gotta watch out for those Groundhawks, always trying to peck your ankles.
Sure beats those damn GroundHogs from some team up in Pa, Jaws. All they do is pull your pants down and try to trip you. Come to think of it, I won a lot of fights in 8th grade using that strategy myself — but I hear the NCAA does frown on it.
They were wise enough to pick a fowl that can fly, unlike one SEC school in particular.
Are you by any chance talking about the USCe Turkeys, Sly? Just a guess. 😁
Yup. But I will give them this, they are of a real variety, unlike an imaginary Hawkeye. And then there are the Beavers. Why anyone would choose such a laughable mascot is beyond me, but I digress.
Yeah, that sure is a strange one….that particular word has always carried a slightly different connotation for me…………………
Let’s make this game count twice.
The win is always good, but developing our younger players and building depth for the long SEC season is equally as important. Franks should light it up in the first half,sharpen his skills and correct his mental errors. Kentucky is next and we want full payback.Place emphasis on long sets and flow with the WR’s and RB’s in the 1st half.
In the second half let’s see the second and third teams. Let’s discover more Ventrell Miller’s like we did vs. Miami. Wow, what a find! Let’s figure out where Amari Burni belongs on the field. He is top drawer.
Get Tederrel Slaton involved. Emory Jones and Kyle Trask need to get some reps. Let’s see what they can do. Go Gators, 42-10.
Asx far as the poll rankings, in the words of Lou Holtz: “First we will be the best, then we will be first.”
You got it, Lakeland. That’s what we SHOULD do, I hope to God we WILL do that, but we’ll see. As you can tell by some of my recent posts, the last vestige in me of not giving up on Franks is about to expire. STL’s review of the situation and in particular certain comments by Cody Alan haunt me, because I do believe this team, this year, can be a very special Gator team. So OK, the rust should be fully knocked off after this Saturday — but it’s time to pee or get off the damn pot for Felipe. Jones and Trask need some serious playing time before Kentucky, in that order!