NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Rod Reed has coached his alma mater to a better record in each of his first three seasons. What the Tennessee State Tigers do this year will depend on when and if quarterback Mike German is reinstated from suspension.
Reed suspended German while the junior dealt with a felony vandalism charge dropped last week. But German missed spring practice because he was academically ineligible and has more work to do to return to the field. The Tigers went 8-3 last season, only the third time they've won eight games in the past 13 years.
German was a big key throwing for 2,751 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
The Tigers' options if German doesn't return include junior college transfer Lamar McKnight and freshman Ronald Butler.
Here are five things to watch during Tennessee State's upcoming season:
1. DEFENSE: The strength of the Tigers where all 11 starters are back from a unit that led the Ohio Valley Conference in total defense last season, giving up 361.6 yards per game.
2. GODBOLT III: The junior cornerback with the great name, Steven Godbolt III is the OVC preseason defensive player of the year based on what he did last year when he led FCS with six interceptions.
3. OFFENSIVE: The Tigers ranked 25th nationally in total offense, averaging 426.64 yards a game. They also averaged 175.7 yards rushing behind senior guard Kadeem Edwards, and he's one of three starters back on the line.
4. NO TRABIS WARD: The running back declared early for the NFL after rushing for 1,422 yards for the Tigers. But sophomore Telvin Hooks did run for 425 yards last year as a freshman.
5. BIGGEST GAME: The Tigers get to host Eastern Illinois, the preseason favorite to win the OVC, on Oct. 26.
Predicted finish in OVC: Third
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