Austin Peay at #3 Georgia
Saturday, September 1st, 2018 | 2:30pm CT
Athens, GA | Sanford Stadium
Clarksville, TN – The No. 22 Austin Peay State University (APSU) football team begins its 2018 campaign at 2:30pm CT, Saturday, when it takes on FBS No. 3 Georgia in Athens.
The first meeting between the two programs will be televised nationally by ESPN, with Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht and Rocky Boiman on the call.
It’s the third consecutive season the Governors will begin the season at an FBS opponent, as they opened at Troy in 2016 and at Cincinnati in 2017. Georgia is the first SEC team Austin Peay will face since it played Kentucky, November, 11th, 2016.
The Governors enter the 2018 season with momentum and expectations that haven’t been seen in Clarksville in quite some time. Head coach Will Healy enters his third year at the helm of the program after securing the STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award as the top coach in FCS in 2017.
The Govs finished last season at 8-4, winning eight games for the first time since the 1977 squad that went 8-3 and won the Ohio Valley Conference. The Govs won seven conference games for the first time in program history, and Healy also earned the Roy Kidd OVC Coach of the Year. The preseason polls for the media and the coaches picked the Govs to finish second in the OVC in 2018.
The defense returns playmakers at all three levels, highlighted by preseason All-America selections Jaison Williams at defensive end and linebacker Gunnar Scholato. The defense improved by leaps and bounds in 2017, allowing 22 fewer points and nearly 200 fewer yards per game last season compared to 2016.
The offense returns a bevy of talent, including a majority of the pieces from the sixth-ranked rushing offense in the FCS last season. Eight of the top nine rushers return from 2017, and all five starters along the offensive line started at least five games in 2017. Quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall, tackle Kyle Anderton and guard Ryan Rockensuess were all named to the preseason All-OVC team.
For the first time in program history, Austin Peay finds itself ranked in the STATS FCS Top 25 media poll, checking in at No. 22. The Govs also are ranked No. 23 in the AFCA FCS Coaches’ poll. Notable publications have ranked the Govs Top 25 as well. Lindy’s ranked Austin Peay 15th in its preseason poll, while Athlon and Street & Smith had Austin Peay at No. 22, and HERO Sports ranked the Govs No. 25.
HERO Sports, Athlon and Phil Steele named defensive end Jaison Williams and linebacker Gunnar Scholato to their FCS Preseason All-America Teams. Williams landed on the second-team for all three, and was named Preseason All-America by Lindy’s and Street & Smith. HERO Sports and Athlon had Scholato as a third-team selection and Phil Steele named him to his fourth team.
Coach Will Healy enters his third season at the helm of the Austin Peay football program as the reigning STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year and Roy Kidd OVC Coach of the Year. He will look to lead the Govs to their first FCS Playoff appearance in program history, after being the first team left out of the playoff field a season ago.
The Governors allowed 22.2 fewer points per game, and surrendered 196.5 fewer yards per game in 2017 than they did in 2016. A big reason for the turnaround was the run defense, which went from allowing 257.8 yards per game in 2016, to 123.3 yards per game in 2017.
The Governors game against FBS No. 3 Georgia is the highest-ranked FBS opponent an OVC member has faced since UT Martin played No. 1 Mississippi State on November 8th, 2014.
APSU By The Numbers
33 – The Governors put up 33 points against UCF in their most recent game against an FBS opponent. It was the third-highest point total UCF allowed in 14 games in 2017.
7 – Austin Peay has scored in seven consecutive matchups against FBS opponents, dating back to 2015. The Govs have reached double-digit points in five-straight FBS contests.
8 – The Govs won eight games in a season for the first time since the 1977 team that won the OVC. The 7½-game improvement from 2016 was the seventh-best turnaround in FCS history.
45 – The Govs scored a program-record 45 touchdowns in 2017. The nation’s sixth-ranked rushing attack also set school records in rushing touchdowns (32) and rushing yards (3,105).
From the Opposition
“Excited to get moving forward on Austin Peay. I have a lot of respect for Coach (Will) Healy and the job he’s done. I’ve followed his career. He’s done a tremendous job everywhere he’s been, especially offensively; and they’ve got a great unit coming back. In our estimation they’ve got eight to nine starters coming back on offense, depending on how you count a couple of wideouts, and eight guys coming back on defense, with two all-conference players that we think are really good players.
“So, we are excited for the opportunity to open with these guys. He’s got a lot energy, you can tell. His players are very enthusiastic. He’s done a really good job recruiting, coming into the state of Georgia. I know the high schools I’ve been in, I’ve seen them in the local high schools more and more, and it’s kind of evidenced by the way their players have played.”
APSU Govs Online
Be sure to follow all the Austin Peay football action at LetsGoPeay.com and the official Facebook page of Austin Peay Athletics. In addition, live play-by-play coverage can be found on Twitter (@AustinPeayFB) and PeayStats.com. Live coverage from this weekend will be provided via streaming (WatchESPN) and radio (ESPN Clarksville).
TV: ESPN (Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman)
In Clarksville: Spectrum (808); CDE (921)
In Nashville: Xfinity (11)
National: DirectTV (206); Dish (140); U-Verse (1602)
Radio: Governors Sports Network (Brian Rives and Van Stokes)
Live Stats: www.GeorgiaDogs.com