For the third-straight week, the East Central University football team will be a part of a homecoming week, as they travel to Russellville, Ark. to face Arkansas Tech on their homecoming, Saturday, Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field.
Coaches Show: Every Monday night fans are encouraged to come to the University Center on ECU's campus for the weekly Coaches Show on 105.5 the X-Factor. Each week coaches from all 13 sports will be on hand to talk about the latest news from their teams. Fans will be able to tweet in questions to @ECUTigersCoach or email them to email@example.com.
Koi Ishto Stadium: At the 2014 ECU Tiger Kickoff Dinner and Auction, ECU President John Hargrave announced that the stadium at Norris Field would be renamed Koi Ishto Stadium in honor of the relationship between ECU and the Chickasaw Nation. Koi Ishto means big cat in the Chickasaw language. A formal dedication will be held, Saturday, Nov. 15 on Chickasaw Appreciation Day when the Tigers battle with Southeastern Oklahoma State.
Scouting Arkansas Tech: The Wonder Boys are 3-5 overall and 3-4 in the Great American Conference after falling in the last three games. ATU has been in low scoring affairs this season, averaging just 17.63 points per game and allowing just 23.50.
The Wonder Boys are a passing team, with 1,510 of their 2,108 yards coming in the air and just 598 on the rush. However, the same can be said for their opponents, as they allow 1,745 yards on the pass and just 930 on the rush. Defense is the key to ATU this season, as they have one of the top defenses in the GAC, ranking No. 3 in total defense by allowing just 313.9 yards per game.
The Wonder Boys have seen three quarterbacks in the almost every game this season, but Dennis Robertson leads the team with a 123-of-247 passing rate, with eight interceptions and eight TDs. Jermaine Merdock is his top receiving target, with 30 catches for 486 yards and two touchdowns. The leading rusher for ATU is Kelton Smith, with 83 attempts, 262 yards and three TDs.
On defense the top producer is Logan Genz, with 100 (46-54) total tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss (25 yards), two interceptions (46 yards), six quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. Justin Martin is also a key to the defense with 38 (19-19) tackles, 9.0 TFL (46 yards), 5.0 sacks (37 yards), 12 QBHs, one forced fumble and one pass breakup.
Against the Wonder Boys: Last season, the Tigers fell to ATU 17-26, with the one of the keys being five interceptions thrown by ECU.
Senior JoJo Snell led the team with 41 yards on 10 carries and 90 yards on four catches. Junior Spencer Bond went 29-of-58 passing. Senior Robert VanDeripe led the defensive returners with nine (5-4) total tackles, 2.5 TFL (four yards).
Jerry Anderson is the top returner on the offense with four catches for 29 yards, while Trevon Gooden is the top defensive returner with eight (3-5) tackles and one PBU.
The Series: The loss in 2013 moved the all-time series with the Wonder Boys to 9-4 overall and 2-1 when playing as GAC opponents. When playing on the road the series is currently reading 4-1 in favor of the Tigers, with the last game in Russellville (Nov. 3, 2012) resulting in a 33-30 win for ECU.
Welcome Back Qumain: After missing three weeks, senior Qumain Black had a strong performance for the Tigers against Southwestern. Black tallied seven (5-2) total tackles, 1.0 TFL (3 yards), one forced fumble and a pass breakup.
Jameel Stepping In: Junior Jameel Whitney added to his career highlight reel in the win over Southwestern at homecoming. The Oklahoma City, Okla., native, who leads the team in total tackles, intercepted his first pass in 2014 and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. It was just his second career interception and his first pick-6.
Near Record Crowd: The crowd at the 2014 Homecoming game was close to a record for the Tigers at 3,808. It marked the largest crowd for an ECU game since Nov. 9, 2009 when Norris Field hosted 4,000 for the battle with Southeastern.
Cole's Crazy Day: Junior Cole Weber had probably one of the best and craziest days of his football career against Northwestern Oklahoma State, as the linebacker scored twice for the Tigers. Weber's first touchdown was the game-winner for ECU, which he scored on a blocked punt. Lexus Jackson blocked the punt and Weber was there to scoop up the ball and run it back for the TD in the first quarter. He then added the final TD of the game when he picked up a blocked field goal attempt by the Tigers and scrambled into the end zone.
Measuring Massuere: Redshirt sophomore David Massuere has made a spot for himself as the kicker for the Tigers this season. Massuere is 9-of-11 in field goal attempts. His longest attempt (and make) this season has been a 45-yard kick. The Fontana, Calif., native is also 32-of-34 in extra-point attempts (97%).
Against the Best: While playing the No. 7 team in the nation (Henderson State), the Tigers spared no fight. ECU ended the game on the losing end, but scored more points against the Reddies than any other team that had faced them in 2014. The Tigers also sacked quarterback Kevin Rodgers four times, two from senior Daniel Holland alone. Rodgers had been sacked just once in the previous three games played in 2014.
Trick Plays: In the Tigers game against No. 7 HSU, ECU came out with a lot of tricks up its sleeves. The Tigers used a fake field-goal attempt to earn a rushing TD by junior Spencer Bond, blocked a punt that was taken in the end zone and recovered by senior Deon Criss at the six and recovered on-side kick attempt that bounced off an opponent's shoe and right into the hands of junior Nathan Pickett.
Dangerous David: Sophomore David Moore has stepped up and proven that he is someone that you need to keep covered defensively. Moore connected with junior Spencer Bond for three receiving touchdowns against Ouachita Baptist, tripling his TD performance from his freshman season.
Holland's Defensive Highlights: Senior Daniel Holland is having a good year on defense for the Tigers. The Miami, Fla., native is currently ranked No. 37 in the nation in forced fumbles per game (0.29), No. 2 in sacks per game (1.43) and No. 13 in TFL per game (1.9) . Holland has recorded 26 (17-9) tackles, 10.0 sacks (61 yards), 13.0 TFL (64 yards), three quarterback hurries, forced two fumbles, and recovered one and has three QBH's this season.
Bond Gaining Recognition: After a standout performance against Southern Arkansas, junior Spencer Bond was named the GAC Offensive Player of the Week for Sept. 15 and The Oklahoman State College Football Player of the Week.
Bond accounted for all six of the Tigers' touchdowns as he helped rally ECU back from a 0-20 deficit to defeat Southern Arkansas. The Madill, Okla., native threw for 339 yards with two scores and rushed for 134 yards and four touchdowns, including an 80-yard score. The 134 rush yards represented the fifth-highest total for a GAC quarterback. He placed two punts inside the 20-yard line.
Earning Attention: For the first time since 2004, the Tigers earned a vote in the AFCA Division II Coaches Top-25 Poll for Sept. 15. ECU earned one vote in the poll for Week 2. ECU was one of four teams from the GAC in the poll in some fashion, with Henderson State being ranked No. 7, Harding ranked No. 20 and Ouachita Baptist also receiving votes (2).
Holland GAC Defender of the Week: Senior Daniel Holland came out of the gates ready to battle in his final season in an orange and black uniform and has claimed Great American Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
In the opening game of the season against Arkansas-Monticello, Holland helped the Tigers (1-0) earn a 38-34 come-from-behind victory. The Miami, Fla., native tallied four (3-2) total tackles, a quarterback hurry, forced one fumble and added 3.5 tackles-for-loss and 3.0 sacks for 23 yards. His TFL, sacks and sack yardage were all career highs and helped the defense hold UAM to just 22 yards rushing for the game. The low yardage ranked ECU No. 4 in the nation for rushing defense after the opening weekend of NCAA DII action. Holland was also ranked No. 6 in the nation in TFL (3.5) and No. 4 in Sacks (3.0)
All-American Play: In the final minute of the game at Arkansas-Monticello, senior Qumain Black came up with an All-American play to secure the Tigers' 38-34 win. Black reached up for a pass at the same time as Boll Weevil Ivory Washington in the end zone, with Black coming away with the ball for the touchback.
Go JoJo Go: Senior JoJo Snell came out of the gates running, recording a career-high 157 rushing yards and 224 all-purpose yards against UAM. It was the first time Snell tallied over 200 yards in a game. The Moss Point, Miss., native also garnered two touchdowns.
Preseason Attention: Several members of the Tigers roster have been gaining attention during the preseason from different organizations. Senior Qumain Black was a USA College Football Preseason All-America First Team Defense selection as well as a NewsOK.com Preseason All-Star selection.
Senior JuJu Turituri also claimed USA College Football Preseason honors as a second team defensive pick and a NewsOK.com selection.
Junior Travis Hening (offense) and senior Kellan Taeatafa-De La Rosa (defense) were named to the USA College Football All-America Third Teams. Hening was also selected to the NewsOK.com team, with junior Spencer Bond on offense.
From the Playing Field to Coaching: The majority of the ECU coaching staff consists of familiar names for Tiger football fans. Eight of the current coaches were members of the ECU football program as collegiate athletes. Rashad Jackson, Chad Roark, Austin Crisler, Fred Gaines, Dustin Lasell, Tyler McGrew, George Robbins and Reuben Tiller have all worn an orange and black uniform before moving to a leadership role.
Up Next: The final two games of the season will be played at home, with the first coming as a test against Harding, Saturday, Nov. 8. A reminder the game time has been changed to 3 p.m. The game is also the annual Military Appreciation Day, where all members of the military (active, reserve or former) get into the game free with a valid military ID.