Clarksville, TN – With the 2018 college football season less than 70 days away all the early predictions have Austin Peay State University’s (APSU) football team poised to have another good season, but can they end Jacksonville State’s current title run.
The Governors finished the 2017 season with a school record tying eight wins and a second-place finish in the Ohio Valley Conference standings, with its only conference loss coming against Jacksonville State – who won the OVC title for a record-tying fourth straight season and 32 straight games in conference play overall.
The JSU loss was also the only Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent the Govs lost to in 2017.
While all the early predictions still have Jacksonville State as the favorite to win the OVC for the fifth straight year they also have the Govs picked as the squad in the conference with the best chance to end that run.
The Govs enter the season with a significant amount of talent returning, including two defensive standouts, Jaison Williams (defensive end) and Gunnar Scholato (linebacker), who have been tabbed preseason All-Americans; while quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall was a freshman All-American following the season, with Ahmaad Tanner (running back) and Kordell Jackson (defensive back) earning honorable mention nods.
And that’s just the start of the talent that third-year head coach Will Healy – who was selected at the Eddie Robinson Award winner as FCS Coach of the Year in the nation — and his staff have put together on both sides of the ball that learned how to win games in 2017, including several grinded-it-out out close wins in conference play.
Jacksonville State on he other hand will count heavily on its loaded offense in 2018, while its defense may be solid, but it did lose several key players from last years team.
That maybe the Govs opening.
Coach Healy will want to use the teams running game to set the tone, wear its opponents down and keep the ball away from the other team’s offense – which in the case of JSU is going to be their strength – while hopefully the Govs defense will be able to hold the Gamecocks offense in check.
As the season begins, Austin Peay will be picked as an underdog to Jacksonville State in who will be the favorite to win the OVC, but the gap between the two programs is as close as it’s ever been and an APSU win wouldn’t be out of the question.