Tech Tidbits: Chance at Winning Season On the Line

ATU Offensive Line 10-15-2022
Arkansas Tech University's offensive line has only allowed nine quarterback sacks this season, third-fewest in the Great American Conference.

There are several measures of success in college athletics. One of the easiest to understand is if the number in the left-hand column (wins) is larger than the number in the right-hand column (losses) at the end of the season.

For the two teams that will meet at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field in Russellville on Saturday, Oct. 29 — Arkansas Tech University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University — there is no more margin for error in the pursuit of that goal in 2022.

The Wonder Boys (3-5) and the Bulldogs (3-5) will stage their 18th all-time meeting beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are available at Live coverage on KCJC 102.3 FM, the KCJC Radio app and will begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Arkansas Tech and SWOSU both have three games remaining in their 2022 seasons. A three-game winning streak to end the year would give the Wonder Boys their first winning season since 2017. For the Bulldogs, three consecutive victories to close out the year would secure their first winning season since 2015.

SWOSU was 0-11 last season, but the arrival of a new head coach — Josh Kirkland — and a new quarterback — Tylan Morton — helped the Bulldogs win three of their first five games to begin the 2022 season.

Morton, the Class 5A offensive player of the year in the State of Georgia his senior year in high school, is a graduate transfer from NCAA Division I member University of South Alabama. He ranks second in the GAC in passing (253.8 yards per game) and touchdown passes (18) this season.

“What (SWOSU) does offensively really fits (Morton),” said Kyle Shipp, ATU head football coach. “They spread their receivers out with wide splits and they push the ball vertically. It limits your coverages defensively, and it makes your box count smaller for defending the run. They go fast. They try to take as many shots down the field as they can.”

The Bulldogs’ current three-game losing streak is attributable to the fact they have allowed 50 points per game the last three weeks. SWOSU plays a blitzing, aggressive style of defense that has yielded a GAC-leading 23 quarterback sacks in 2022. It has also yielded 473.1 yards of total offense per game, second-most in the league.

Another category in which the Bulldogs lead the conference is penalty yards per game (86.5).

“We need to limit our pre- and post-snap penalties as best we can,” said Shipp. “We talk about that weekly. I know we’re not going to play perfect, but if we can limit those and (SWOSU) continues doing the things they’ve been doing it will definitely help us a lot.”

Talk to you on the radio.

Tech Tidbits is a column written by Sam Strasner, ATU director of university relations and radio play-by-play voice for ATU football and basketball.