CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Austin Peay State University's football team will open the 2011 football season, 6 p.m., Saturday, when it travels north to play Cincinnati in a 6 p.m. (CDT) at Nippert Stadium.
This is the fifth time Austin Peay has played Cincinnati, all being played in Nippert, the last occasion being in 1993 when the Govs dropped a 42-10 decision. It also is the third time the Governors have opened the season at Cincinnati.
|6 p.m. (CDT), Saturday, Sept. 3
||Fox Sports Ohio|
|WVRY 105.1 FM|
|Governors Live Audio|
||Official APSU game notes|
|Official Cincinnati game notes|
Cincinnati is the first of two Football Bowl Subdivision teams the Govs will play to open the season-after a week off, the Govs travel to Memphis, Sept. 17. The Bearcats also are the second Bowl Championship Series (BCS) program APSU has played in the last two seasons-the Govs played at Wisconsin last season.
"Cincinnati is just a good football team," APSU coach Rick Christophel said. "People forget just two years ago they were playing in the Orange Bowl. They went through a transition period last year, Coach (Butch) Jones and his staff really do a good job.
"They have a lot of people back, especially on offense. (Zach) Collaros seems like he has been there forever-he is a great quarterback. He has a mobility back there that gives them an added dimension-he is a guy who has great mobility that has become an adept passer. And when you can hand the ball off to a guy like (Isaiah) Pead, it makes things awfully tough for defenses."
Defense will be key for the Governors as they open the 2011 season. The Governors were ranked in the 100s (out of 116 teams) in too many categories for Christophel's liking a year ago. He was especially rankled over the Govs in ability to stop the run. As a result, attempting to control Pead, a second-teaqm All-Big East performer, will be Job 1 in the opener.
"One of the things that concerns me is we have to be able to stop the run," he said. "There are going to be big plays in the passing game when we don't have a pass rush, but we can't allow them 20-or-more yard runs. That is not good."
The Govs were hampered by much youth on defense in 2010. Several first-year performers, including no less than three freshmen, started much of the season. But those growing pains could pay dividends in 2011 as nine starters return.
Offensively, the pressure rests on a pair of veterans, junior quarterback Jake Ryan and senior tailback Ryan White. This is Ryan's third season as the Governors starting quarterback, with junior Devin Stark expected to be his top target. Meanwhile, White, a preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference selection, enters the season as the fifth-ranked career rusher in Austin Peay history after gaining 1,850 yards over the last two seasons.
They should be buoyed by an experienced offensive line, led by preseason All-OVC center Tim Schmid.
APSU's record-setting placekicker, Stephen Stansell, is back for his third season and is a Fred Mitchell Award candidate after booting a trio of 50-yard-plus field goals a year ago. At least entering the season, Stansell also is expected to handle the punting chores after Ryan Key serves in that capacity for the past four years. .
However, the most glaring change on special teams will be finding replacements for All-American Terrence Holt as the Governors kick and punt returner. A combination of sophomores Tee Howell, Terrence Oliver and Sheldon Wade will get the initial opportunities.
"We are not looking for someone to replace Terrence-you really can't replace an All-American," Christophel said. "You don't want to put that type of pressure on anyone. He has to be a guy who fields the ball, doesn't make the big mistake and do all the right things. If we have someone who can go above that and do some of the things that Terrence did, so be it."