Skyhawks looking to win with explosive offense

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 28, 2014 at 12:14 pm •  Published: July 28, 2014
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Tennessee Martin is hoping six starters back from a pretty explosive offense helps the Skyhawks notch a third straight winning season.

The Skyhawks rolled up nearly 400 yards per game last year, and junior Jarod Neal and senior Dylan Favre will share quarterback duties again this season after combining for 2,610 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. Favre is a nephew of former NFL MVP Brett Favre.

That helped UT Martin go 7-5 last season, its third winning season in the past four years. The Skyhawks won for the first time at Eastern Kentucky and made national polls in 2013 after wins against Chattanooga and Central Arkansas.

Left tackle Charles Sweeton anchors an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks in the league.

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Five things to watch at UT Martin:

DEFENSIVE KEY: Linebacker Tony Bell made this year's watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award for defenders. The Memphis native led the OVC with 10.5 sacks, which ranked sixth in the nation, and 15 tackles for loss.

TOP SENIORITY: Ninth-year head coach Jason Simpson has the longest tenure in the OVC. The Skyhawks won only 37 league games in the 14 seasons prior to his arrival, but have 48 OVC victories during his reign.

NATIONAL KICKOFF: The new Skyhawks' opener Aug. 30 at Kentucky of the Southeastern Conference will be on the SEC Network.

FOURTH DOWN: Speedy wideout and returner Ronald Craswell, who redshirted at Alabama before a stop at Itawamba Community College, has two years of eligibility after transferring from West Virginia (413 yards, 20.6 yards per catch). He had five receptions for 76 yards in the Mountaineers' 30-21 upset over No. 11 Oklahoma State.

OFFENSIVE CHIEF: John Bond joins the coaching staff as an offensive coordinator with other stops including Massachusetts, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Northern Illinois, Army and Illinois State.

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Predicted finish in Ohio Valley Conference: Fifth