APSU Sports: Austin Peay Football
Clarksville, TN – Young players will get the opportunity to shine this Saturday when Austin Peay State University’s football team scrimmages for the second time, 9:30am, in Governors Stadium.
APSU head coach Rick Christophel is planning on using his first-team players as few as two series in the contest before allowing reserves to handle the remainder of the 80-play-plus scrimmage that will precede the 1:00pm, Football Media Day.“Our starters on both sides of the football we feel pretty good about,” Christophel said. “We want to get older guys, the ones who are entrenched in their positions, give them two good series or so and get them out. Then we are going to allow a lot of the younger guys to get some work, in particular, at quarterback.
“I will probably get Jake two series and then get Jacob (Sexton) a lot more work. He’s got to get a lot more work.”
A redshirt freshman from Oneida, Sexton redshirted a year ago. However, he emerged in the spring to beat out Landon Curtis for the No. 2 spot. Recently, Curtis elected to leave the Govs program.
When Christophel talks about getting Sexton ready he doesn’t mean in case Ryan gets hurt. Christophel routinely plays his back-up quarterback at least one series in each half of a game.
But Sexton is not the only one who will receive significant snaps. He wants to provide more opportunities on the offensive side for running backs Ean Pemberton and Reco Williams, if healthy. Senior Wes Kitts rushed for more than 130 yards in the opening scrimmage.
Up front, the Govs lost three starters, but return starters Chris Hartman at guard and Jacob Langston, who has been moved from guard to center. It is the other three spots that have to continue to evolve. Junior tackles Ben Stansfield and Kyle Harrison both have previous starts in their background while guard Gavin Willisson gained experience a year ago at center behind Schmid.
“They are things that you are going to have in the season, some banged up shoulders and things like that,” Christophel said. “But again it is going to give some of our younger guys a chance where we can get them on film.
“We were talking about the fact that some of these linemen that Coach (Jason) Palermo has are going to be around for three and four years. That is exciting.”
The defense, which permitted more than 300 rushing yards Monday, has bounced back as the week has progressed. Christophel, in fact, likes the depth they are beginning to develop.
“I think our starters up front are establishing themselves,” Christophel said. “We have seen signs of guys behind them who are starting to come on better and better each day. We just need to improve and build on that depth.
“It is going to help us down the road in the conference schedule where it will allow us to help keep people healthy and on the football field.”
Christophel and staff made some wholesale changes in the offseason to improve the team’s pass rush along with the ability to stop the run. Ends Iosua Siliva and Preston Gilbreath were moved inside while Anthony Marion was moved from tackle to end.
Despite expected starters Josh Carroll and Darrick Dillard missing Monday’s scrimmage with injuries, veterans Craig Salley, Josh Owens and Rip Rowan, a converted defensive end, stepped up while redshirt freshman Adam Noble was one of the Govs tackle leaders.
The secondary depth remains a frustration. Injuries have mounted at the safety position. Backup safety Ricky Tinnin, who was out with a lower body injury earlier this week, returned on Wednesday, but subsequently was injured again that same day. Safety Steve Rich is expected to return early next week, but he is not expected to scrimmage Saturday.
Saturday will be the Govs’ final full-contact scrimmage. They will hold a substitution scrimmage later in camp.