Brian Rives is the voice of the Governors and has been a staple for Austin Peay athletics on television and radio. He and his wife Denise are the proud parents of Knox, 13, and Lily, 10. Brian does a great job offering his expertise on Saturday’s meeting Between the Hedges.
Coming off an excellent season, winning eight of your last 10, and with a lot of talent coming back, what are the goals and expectations for the Governors of 2018?
With the heart-breaking way 2017 ended, with the entire team gathered to watch the FCS Playoff selection show, believing that the team had done enough to make the playoff field, and to be left out of the picture, that event stung this program. That sting has lingered through the off-season conditioning, spring camp, and summer workouts. That singular event, being left out of the FCS playoffs has created a battle cry for the team headed into 2018 “Leave No Doubt.” Take it out of the voter’s hands, take away the choice to put you in or out, but have the results on the field leave no doubt that you belong in the playoffs this season. That is the ultimate end goal for the team this season. Of course, we want to win the Ohio Valley Conference, defend the Sgt. York Trophy (a trophy awarded for the best record among Tennessee OVC teams – Austin Peay, Tennessee State, UT Martin, and Tennessee Tech), have a perfect record at home, but all those are steps to reach the ultimate goal, competing for an FCS National Championship.
Talk about QB Jeremiah Oatsvall and what has made him such an outstanding young player.
Jeremiah’s vision is what seems to set him apart from others at his position. So many times a younger player, in this case, a pure freshman last season feels the rush of the game, and end up seeing what they want to see, not what is really there. Oatsvall is as calm of a character as you will ever meet and allows things to develop, trusting that his teammates will be in the right places at the right times. His God-given athleticism can get him out of some tight situations, as his 453 rushing yards last season from the QB position can attest to. Jeremiah forces a defense to play 11 on 11, no 11 versus 10, they have to account for the quarterback.
What is your take on Georgia?
The class of the SEC East, without a doubt. To see a former Bulldog come home to take over that program, and get the immediate results Coach Smart has achieved, it provides a blueprint for all other programs to abide by. As an old O-lineman myself, that is where I always look first, and this group for Georgia is elite. Add in the experience that Fromm gained last year, completing 62% of his throws, and the playmakers around him, you could probably draw plays on the fly in the dirt with this group and find success. The Bulldog defense lost a lot from last season, so the names may not be as familiar as they have been, but Mel Tucker will develop an aggressive group that will get after you.
What does Austin Peay need to do to pull off the upset?
Games like this, FBS versus FCS, upsets come down to two factors, turnovers and scoring. The Governors will have to eliminate turnovers (12 fumbles lost, 7 interceptions thrown last season) while creating some from the Bulldogs. Scoring may sound like an oersimplification, but is true. Austin Peay cannot settle for field goals when touchdowns are attainable.
Does a game like this help prepare APSU for Ohio Valley play?
A strong performance would, of course, create confidence for this team moving forward. But does it prepare the Govs for an OVC Run? I really do not think so. This is, without a doubt, a measuring stick game, to see where you are as a program against a top 3 team in the country, where do your athletes stand up to theirs, coaches matching wits with a program that played for a national title last season, you can get a feel for where your program is, as a whole. But for the season, each week present different challenges that you have to overcome as they are presented.
Are there any changes you would like to see in college football?
I hope to see the kicking game stay as it is in the college game, and not fall prey to what the NFL is attempting with the kick off rules this season. And as a proud FCS member, and I hope these types of match ups, FCS versus FBS, stay on the schedules of teams like Georgia, and their SEC counterparts. They mean so much, in fan support and monetarily, to programs like Austin Peay.
Is your fan base excited about playing Georgia and visiting Athens?
As a fan first, and a broadcaster second, I am ecstatic to come down and play Between the Hedges. As a Tennessee native, I grew up on SEC football, so I am excited to see the Silver Britches, to see Uga roaming the sidelines, and experience a game day atmosphere in Sanford Stadium. And as a fan and admirer of the late, great Larry Munson, I consider it an honor to come into his house and be able to call a football game featuring his beloved Dogs.