APSU Sports Information Office
Clarksville, TN – 301…That is the number of days since Austin Peay last played a home football game, November 16th, 2013, against Southeast Missouri.
But seemingly a time warp occurred since then…Think about it, no, remember the Governors Stadium that Austin Peay football team played in 10 months ago compared to the new one that will greet the Govs when they play host to Chattanooga, 4:00pm, Saturday.
Even the playing surface—FieldTurf XT—is new and includes the new Governor Peay logo at midfield.After playing in the Ohio Valley Conference’s worst facility for decades, this Governors team now will show off a stadium that ranks at the top of the conference.
But like the stadium the Governors are mostly new—38 members of the Governors roster are freshmen or redshirt freshmen, with 14 on the two-deep. Eighteen freshmen played in the season opener at Memphis.
Those young Govs will take on a veteran Chattanooga team considered the class of the Southern Conference. The Mocs are the preseason SoCon favorites and return the league’s two-time defending Defensive Player of the Year (defensive end Davis Tull) and the Offensive Player of the Year (quarterback Jacob Huesman, the son of Chattanooga coach Russ Huesman).
Tull is on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List—the FCS Defensive Player of the Year award, for the second year in a row. Huesman is on the Walter Payton Award Watch List for the FCS top offensive player. He completed nearly 70 percent of his passes last season.
That duo plus NFL tight end prospect Faysal Shafaat and senior defensive end Derrick Lott earned preseason All-America honors. In addition, senior linebacker Muhasibi Wakeel is tied for 11th in the FCS and No. 3 in the SoCon with 12.5 tackles per game.
But in saying that, the Mocs come into Clarksville an angry bunch after letting the season opener at Central Michigan slip away, 20-16, before getting beat at home in overtime last week against Ohio Valley Conference favorite Jacksonville State, 26-23.
Conversely, the Govs defensively must find a way to keep the Mocs from converting third-down situations. Nine times Memphis was able to gain first downs in third-down opportunities, twice with costly penalties.
Safeties Johnathan Shuler and Damien Whitfield led the defensive effort against Memphis with nine stops apiece while sophomore cornerback Rod Owens had an interception and forced a fumble. In addition, a pair of freshmen linebackers, Zach Stuart and Benedict Louis, came off the bench to record six and five tackles respectively.
Offensively, quarterback Trey Taylor and Darrien Boone combined for 6-of-16 passes for just 30 yards. However, sophomore Justin Roberson, who moved to his natural running back position in the spring after playing defensive back a year ago, finished with 50 yards on eight attempts.
- This will mark the first contest in new Governors Stadium. After the 2013 home season ended construction of the $19 million facility began. The original stadium version, known as Municipal Stadium, was built in 1946.
- What became of old Governors Stadium, at least the west side? The old concrete was ground up and it makes up 90 percent of the base of new Governors Stadium.
- More than 350 football alums are expected to be present Saturday morning for the official opening of new Governors Stadium after a breakfast in the stadium’s club level.
- In addition to the stadium ribbon cutting ceremonies, Saturday, ribbon cutting also will occur for the Blake Jenkins Plaza, Hendricks Fox “Walk of History,” Heritage Bank Lobby, the Bill Dupes Locker room and the John and Trish Foy Presidential Suite.
- All football alums in attendance for Saturday’s APSU-Chattanooga game will be part of a special halftime ceremony
- The Governors are 37-37-1 all-time in home openers with the 1931-32 seasons locations both unaccounted for.
- A win would snap Austin Peay’s 13-game losing streak. The Govs have not won at home since downing Tennessee Tech, 38-31, November 17th, 2012, in Governors Stadium.