It’s been a week of reflection and self-awareness for Arkansas Tech University football.
“The theme of the week has been honesty,” said Kyle Shipp, ATU head football coach. “Being honest about it…being able to look in the mirror and say, ‘am I doing what I need to do to help us win the game?’ or ‘am I practicing the way I need to practice to help us win this game?’ In this day and age, young men have a hard time with that. Sometimes they have a hard time of being honest and saying ‘I have to do better’ instead of pointing the finger at someone else. So, we’ve been honest with each other this week and made sure that we’re doing everything we can to prepare to win this game.”
The Wonder Boys (3-4) dropped a 49-33 decision to Southern Arkansas University last Saturday. ATU fell behind 35-10 at halftime and saw its two-game winning streak come to an end.
“We started out too slow,” said Shipp. “We didn’t have enough energy, and I’m not sure why to be honest with you. We had an early fumble on offense, and our defense struggled getting them off the field…too many missed tackles and things of that nature. We have to figure out a way to move on this week and get ready for a really good opponent.”
That foe is Henderson State University (5-2). The Reddies went to Searcy and defeated then nationally 12th-ranked Harding University 15-14 last Saturday. Henderson State is one win away from clinching its 11th winning season in its last 12 campaigns.
The Reddies are second in the GAC in rushing defense (126.3 yards allowed per game). HSU wide receiver Xavier Malone is top five in the league in receptions and receiving yards. He has caught 36 passes for 782 yards — an average of 21.7 yards per reception — and nine touchdowns this season.
“(Malone) is probably the fastest kid in our conference in terms of just pure speed,” said Shipp. “When he gets the ball in his hands, he’s pretty electric. He’s not a kid you’re going to shut down. He’s going to get his yardage. What you can’t do is allow him to have two or three touchdowns. A huge part of their offense goes through him.”
Kickoff at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium in Arkadelphia is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. Live coverage of the ATU-HSU game on KCJC 102.3 FM, the KCJC Radio app and www.arkansastechsports.com will begin at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
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.