New Austin Peay Coach Faces Tough Opening Slate - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

New Austin Peay Coach Faces Tough Opening Slate

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CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Kirby Cannon faces a tough schedule in his first season as Austin Peay's coach with the Governors kicking off the season on the road against two Southeastern Conference opponents.

The Governors open at Tennessee on Aug. 31 before visiting Vanderbilt on Sept. 7. The schedule doesn't ease up as the Governors play their first five games on the road with contests at Chattanooga, Ohio and Eastern Kentucky. Austin Peay finally plays at home Oct. 10 against Ohio Valley Conference favorite Eastern Illinois.

Cannon was the secondary coach at central Michigan the past three years and head coach at Missouri S&T before that. He takes over a program that went 2-9 last season. He does have seven starters back on offense led by senior tackle Ben Stansfield and nine on defense.

Here are five things to watch during Austin Peay's upcoming season:

1. FOLLOW ME: Two players transferred from Central Michigan and followed Cannon, including running back Tim Phillips and safety Leron Eaddy (ee-dee). Both will be in graduate school at Austin Peay.

2. BIG MAN IN MIDDLE: The Governors also have senior defensive tackle Iosua Siliva from America Samoa anchoring the line. The 6-foot-5, 267-pound Siliva had 5.5 tackles for loss and two sacks last season.

3. BIG LOSS: The defense will be without senior defensive end Earnest Smith who will miss the season after tearing his Achilles tendon during a summer conditioning drill.

4. PROECT THE QB: The Governors led the OVC allowing just 10 sacks in 11 games last season, which ranked 10th nationally. The Governors have ranked in the top 15 for fewest sacks allowed the past three seasons.

5. TOUGH ROAD: The start isn't the only issue for the Governors. They also visit Chattanooga, a team that might win the Southern Conference, and must go on the road to play OVC rivals Murray State and Tennessee State.

Predicted finish in OVC: Tenth

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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