published Friday, September 5th, 2014

Sewanee has high hopes if starters stay healthy

The Sewanee Tigers have a good many starters back from 2013, and their other front-line players generally have experience.

What they don't have a lot of going into Saturday's football season opener at former league rival DePauw in Indiana is depth.

"If we stay healthy, we have a chance for a good season," fourth-year coach Tommy Laurendine said Thursday. "I know that sounds like a cliche and you could say that almost any year, but right now we're looking pretty good. I think this is the best offense we've had, but our depth is not as good as in the past."

Junior Cody Daniel from California is back to run the offense but as the full-time quarterback after getting some time at the position the last two years, and Laurendine said the Tigers likely would pass more this season. They went 4-6 last year, 3-3 in the Southern Athletic Association.

"We've got a really good nucleus of starters coming back, and experience," Laurendine said.

One of the strengths of the team is the offensive line, with seniors Tanner Potts, Neal Johnson, Brandon Miller, Justin Hawke and Pierce McGrady, and sophomore Riley Malone from Lincoln County likely starting for the injured Hawke on Saturday. Miller, in fact, was a preseason third-team All-American along with junior kicker Callum Wishart from Ooltewah and defensive backs De'Nard Ford and Alex Kops.

Laurendine called junior Andy Moots "one of the better fullbacks in the league," and Charlie Powell and 6-foot-4 Stephen Jackson are experienced senior wide receivers. Junior Devante Jones and sophomore Powers Spencer both are capable slotbacks who each missed at least four games with an injury last year.

Wishart kicked three field goals ranging from 42 to 46 yards last year, "and he's very accurate, very consistent," Laurendine said. "He's got a lot of leg for this level."

Another player from a Chattanooga-area school will have a big impact on the defense as a freshman, Laurendine said in reference to safety Glenn Ireland from Lookout Mountain and Baylor. He may not start Saturday but will divide time with sophomore Hayden Reese. Sophomores Emmanuel Bell and Tony Dykes are among the top linebackers in the SAA, Laurendine said, and Cortez Brown and Matt Rosson in the secondary and John Paul McDonald and Grant Fuller at outside linebacker also are proven players.

The defensive front is relatively small, Laurendine said, but also has ability and experience in the likes of senior Oliver Larkin and sophomore Lonnie Scott.

Sewanee's home opener is next week against Washington & Lee. That coincides with this year's Hall of Fame celebration.

Contact Ron Bush at rbush@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6291.

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