Carson-Newman looks to extend CIAA dominance against Virginia Union

VIDEO: Mike Turner Press Conference

C-N Game Notes

SAC Weekly Report 

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. –  When Carson-Newman (0-1) rolls to Richmond, Va. Saturday to tangle with Virginia Union (1-0), the Eagles will be looking to extend a 13-game winning streak against schools from the CIAA. 

The Panthers will try to become the first CIAA team to beat Carson-Newman in 17 years. The Eagles last lost in 2001 to Winston-Salem State 27-16. C-N is 14-1 all-time against the league.

However, to do that, Carson-Newman will have to do something that no South Atlantic Conference team has ever done – beat VUU at Hovey Field. 

This is the fourth straight year that the Panthers will have played a South Atlantic Conference school. They split with Newberry the last two years, winning at home, and falling at The Graveyard. Three years ago, VUU defeated Brevard, then a member of the SAC, 35-21 at Hovey Field. The Panthers are 4-3 all-time against the SAC; however, they remain perfect against the league at home. 

Virginia Union is led by Dr. Alvin Parker, who scored a thrilling win in his first game as the head coach of his alma mater.  Virginia Union trailed at home to Seton Hill by a touchdown with less than four minutes to play and the Griffins set to attempt a field goal from 19 yards out to go up by 10. 

However, D'Andre Walker blocked the kick, and nine plays later, Darius Taylor found Tabyus Taylor for a 13-yard touchdown pass to tie the game.  A Tovias Parker interception and Tabyus Taylor two-yard touchdown run seal the win in overtime for the Panthers to get Parker his first career victory and VUU its first overtime win since 1998. 

The Eagles' matched wits with Dr. Parker the past two seasons when he was the offensive coordinator at Saint Augustine's.

"When you look at him on video right now there's a lot of similarities," Carson-Newman head football coach Mike Turner said. "Which that's how it should be, that's how he's coached on offense. He's brought his defensive coordinator with him to Virginia Union. He's going to do a good job there, he always had kids that were ready to play when he was at St. Aug and now that he's at home and can recruit the ones he wants to get I think you'll see that program on the rise."

The Eagles were defensively dominant on the Parker-coached Falcons last year. C-N limited the Falcons to 297 yards of total offense and made eight stops in the backfield with three sacks.

However, this year they'll have to slow down a stout power running attack featuring the aforementioned Tabyus Taylor.  The 6-2, 250-pound load at tailback carried the ball 25 times for 175 yards and three scores.  He also caught three passes for 19 yards and a score in  week one.  Taylor scored both the game-tying and game-winning touchdowns for the Panthers. 

"Wow. We tighten up," Turner said when asked how the Eagles would slow down Taylor. "They're going to get him the football in a lot of ways. When you've got a QB that's 6-5 (Darius Taylor), there's the threat that's right behind him. They like to do a lot of different things different kind of ways to get him the football whether it be the zone, the spread, the power. What really gets you is when they get two backs back there and run right into you with power. "

The Panthers have two lead blocking backs to use out of I-formation sets that are also 250-pounds in Jayquan Simmons and Jeremiah Edwards. 

Tabyus Taylor is second nationally in scoring after week one with his four touchdowns.  He's fifth in rushing yards, sixth in rushing touchdowns and earned CIAA Offensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts against Seton Hill. 

Carson-Newman, the SAC's best rush defense from a year ago, allowed just three 100-yard rushers all last year.  However, one of those was Josh Glisson, who rushed for 126 yards on 24 carries for the Parker-coached Saint Augustine's Falcons last year. 

Meanwhile, Carson-Newman's run game is where it typically is, in the top 10 in the country in yards.

The Eagles ran for 330 yards last week against West Florida, the second most yards on the ground the Argos have given up in their brief three-year history.  Carson-Newman is sixth nationally in rushing yards.

Sherron Jackson (Miami, Fla.) led Carson-Newman with 109 yards rushing on just two carries in week one.  He was featured on the NCAA's top-five plays of the week for his 68-yard TD run against the Argos.

Antonio Wimbush (Kingsland, Ga.) and Marcus Williams (Apopka, Fla.) took the bulk of the carries, though.  Both running backs were making their returns after knee injuries early last year. 

"Being totally cleared is fine, but I've got to get totally cleared in my heart and my mind, as the student athlete," Turner said. "Marcus has worked hard in fall camp and I think finally he's said, 'Hey I'm going to turn it loose and go. I feel good and everything's alright.' He showed up quite a few times Thursday night. He's a guy that we want to depend on to be in there as a running back."

Wimbush rushed 12 times for 96 yards, while Williams had 18 carries for 89 yards. 

While the Eagles' run game clicked in week one, the aerial attack faltered a bit out of the gate. 

Derrick Evans (Macon, Ga.) was 3-for-10 for 14 yards.

"Oh it was awful, and that goes back to one guy, it goes back to me," Turner said.  "We were going to do some things out of play action and I was concerned about protection and I wanted to make sure that he didn't take any more hits than what he needed to take. We've got plenty of guys that are capable of getting some things done. But we were in a mode that we're trying to keep drives alive, and trying to keep the defense off the field as much as we could. It goes back to offense, it's what you do on the first down. Because what kind of call you make on second and five or second and six is a whole lot better than second and eight. We've got some issues that we needed to work out, and very simple things to get done."

One of those things is winning first down.  Carson-Newman had 26 total first-and-10s against West Florida, however, the Eagles only gained four or more yards on those situations a third of the time. The Eagles had nine such plays against the Argos in week one where they garnered at least four yards and seven where they either had no gain or a loss of yardage.

They'll be going against a Virginia Union defense headlined by reigning CIAA Defensive Player of the Year and Lindy's Preseason All-American Sterling Hammond.  Hammond had five picks and 70 tackles a year ago.

"He has great anticipation, he's a football player," Turner said. "He sees things and does them naturally, he sees plays because he's got a jump on things maybe other people don't have. You can tell he studies video well because he breaks on the ball at the right time and the right place. They put him in a position where he's able to turn loose and make plays a little. He's a great athlete and has been very consistent in his play."

The Panthers also boast of Tovias Parker, the CIAA Defensive Player of the Week, who picked off two passes against Seton Hill.

This will be Carson-Newman's first trip to Virginia since a 2006 jaunt to Petersburg to play Virginia State. The Eagles prevailed over the Trojans that day 27-21. Carson-Newman hasn't lost in the state of Virginia since 1984 when the Eagles dropped a 27-14 decision to Liberty in Lynchburg. VSU, Liberty and Emory & Henry are the only schools from the Commonwealth C-N has played all-time.

The game will take place at Hovey Field, which holds some historical significance. Used by Virginia Union since 1907, it is the second-oldest college football stadium still in use in the United States. Hovey Field is the oldest natural grass football stadium in the country. Harvard Stadium, built in 1903, is the only older college football stadium still in use.

Kickoff between the Eagles and Panthers is set for 1:00 PM Saturday. Pregame coverage begins at noon on the Eagle Sports Network on Joy 620 (WRJZ-AM, Knoxville), Mountain Country 106.3 (WPFT-FM, Sevierville) and online at with the AEC Tailgate Show. 


Game Day Central 9-22-18
September 22, 2018 Game Day Central 9-22-18