EIU Panthers

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Monkey Off The Back

How does that idiom go - Get the monkey off your back.

Well on Saturday, Eastern Illinois football did just that and it had nothing to do with the Curious George character that was at O'Brien Field for the Kid's Day contest.

The Panthers snapped a 10-game losing skid that dated back to last season when the Panthers won the OVC regular-season title but lost the season finale and then lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Most people expected that losing skid to extend to three games when you open up with No. 9 Iowa - team thought to have Rose Bowl expectations when the season started (that may still be within reach after the beat down they put on Michigan State today).

But no one expected an eight game losing streak to go into this year, in fact many people were probably looking at being around 7-2 or 6-3 right now with big games remaining at Tennessee State and Illinois State.

Well the game at LP Field next week will still be big and the Prairie State Rivalry is always big so now the Panthers are looking to end the year on a three game win streak. And that is a very real possibility.

TSU has not won an OVC game yet this season and lost their top running back earlier this season. ISU has had a very up and down season and your not sure exactly which team may show up.

As for EIU, signs of productivity started to show last week in a loss to Murray State in which the Panthers were able to generate some offense and not turn the ball over. Today the offense found a few big plays and then the defense created some key turnovers. Put those two together and it usually spells victory.

In some other EIU news - volleyball had a tough weekend losing at EKU and Morehead State... Swimming lost at UIC today... Men's soccer lost a tough game 3-0 at Evansville and now the Panthers will need to beat Drake next Saturday and need some help to advance to the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament.

Congrats to the EIU cross country teams. The EIU women had five All-Conference runners as they posted a second place finish at the OVC meet. The EIU men placed third.

Women's rugby plays its final home match at Noon on Sunday. Weather should be good so if you have time before you go trick-or-treating, then stop by Lakeside Field at Noon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Know Your Opponent - Austin Peay

Three weeks and counting of know your opponents as we take a look at Austin Peay which serves as the Panthers final home opponent for the 2010 season. In the coming weeks we will also preview Tennessee State and Illinois State.

We will take a quick look at APSU in just a few minutes but first a couple of items in EIU athletic news.

First a correction from yesterday's blog. We incorrectly reported that EIU volleyball had defeated UT Martin in five games, when instead they won in three.

Today EIU women's basketball was ranked 30th in the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll. Season opener for the Panthers is Nov. 12 at Western Michigan.

Men's soccer lost at UIC on Wednesday night. The match was originally scheduled for Tuesday but was pushed back one day due to inclement weather.

Lastly, EIU swimming picked up a men's win at Evansville on Wednesday night.

Now a couple of know your opponent facts about Austin Peay.

1.) The University is named for former Tennessee Governor - Austin Peay

2.) The school's famous cheer - Let's Go Peay stems from the 1970's when playground legend Fly Williams played basketball. The cheer would go - The Fly Is Open, Let's Go Peay!

3.) The school is located in Clarksville, Tenn. - depicted in the famous song - Last Train To Clarksville, which is actually an anti-war song as Clarksville, Tenn., is located near Fort Campbell Army Base in Kentucky.

4.) Austin Peay played football in the Pioneer Football League as a non-scholarship football team for about 10 years rejoining the OVC in 2007.

5.) Lewie Lastik, who was portrayed as an offensive lineman in the movie "Remember the Titans" played football at Austin Peay.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why is Pepto Bismol Pink?

Watching TV tonight flipping between the Boise State smurf turf and some other shows, I saw a Target ad that had a series of pharmacy questions. One of which was Why is Pepto Bismol pink?

I honestly didn't know the answer, other than great marketing strategy. Evidently the active ingredient Bismuth is pink and as some of the online sources would say - turns your tongue black when you take it. Ok maybe everything you read on the internet is not true.

Well here are a couple of things that we have found to be true in the last couple of days.

1.) EIU women's basketball was picked preseason No. 1 in the OVC

2.) EIU men's basketball was picked No. 3 in the preseason OVC poll.

3.) Men's soccer had to move its Tuesday night match in the Windy City for what else - Wind (inclement weather in the Chicago area forced UIC to move the match to Wednesday)

4.) Women's soccer clinched its 12th straight OVC Tournament berth and we think Kaylin Lorbert is by far the best goalkeeper in the OVC (second straight home weekend of OVC action with 200 minutes in the net and no goals).

5.) Volleyball picked up a much needed win in the OVC race with a 5-set victory over UT Martin on Tuesday night.

6.) Men's swimming is off to its best start in recent years.

Those are just the facts, nothing more maam.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Homecoming Hangover

While I don't think the term "hangover" is going to refer to the overuse of your favorite adult beverage in this blog - to some it may seem appropriate if they chose to over indulge yesterday. Nor is this going to be one of those blogs that doesn't seem to actually recall what happened yesterday much like the movie The Hangover (Mike Tyson was killer in that movie by the way).

No instead this will refer more to that fact that Eastern Illinois football showed some signs of life at O'Brien Field yesterday afternoon attempting to go toe-to-toe with Murray State's high scoring offense as the Panthers opened up their own passing offense. Unlike some other games this season when EIU was forced to primarily pass based on being behind early - this game EIU has a designed passing attack.

1.) Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 4 touchdowns and 341 yards
2.) EIU did not commit an offensive turnover
3.) Defense was able to force two turnovers both stopping Murray State drives
4.) Lorence Ricks had four catches for 114 yards

All signs pointing in the right direction. Now coming off of a tough lose at homecoming the Panthers must regroup as they face Austin Peay next Saturday in a game that could give the Panthers their first win of the season. APSU just lost at Jacksonville State. The week after EIU plays at Tennessee Sate that could be another chance for a win.

Other positives from homecoming weekend.
1.) Women's Rugby won at Illinois
2.) Volleyball won at Southeast Missouri
3.) Women's Soccer won versus UT Martin

The women's soccer team will host Murray State on Sunday at 1 p.m. in a match that has OVC Tournament implications.

Two other quick thoughts - congrats to the Texas Rangers on making the World Series (sorry Yankee fans). With Texas making its first World Series appearance now only the Washington Nationals (formerly Montreal Expos) and Seattle Mariners have not made a World Series appearance
Second and this one comes from the land of common sense. High school football officials in Washington State may be suspended for using a pink whistle during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Not sure what message the Washington High School Association wants to be sending on an issue like this.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lonely On The Bottom

When thinking about life at the bottom you soon realize that everyone is a coach and everyone has a solution. How does that song go by the Little River Band.

Have you heard about the lonesome loser,
Beaten by the queen of hearts every time,

This season EIU is looking up from the bottom of the OVC standings and for a team used to being on top and looking downward, life is a little strange. Band wagons always seem to be a little less crowded when things are not going your way.

For this season the queen of hearts has reared her ugly head in the form of turnovers. The Panthers have committed 27 of them - a number that leads all of FCS. While they probably will not catch the school record of 52 set in the 1981 season, they are letting those things get the best of them.

Then comes the next week. As coaches like to say - young people are resilient, they seem to be able to bounce back. As homecoming approaches on the EIU campus there is no better time to try and break out of a slump and get some of that good MOJO going their way. Win won for old E-I-U and make the alumni proud.

In addition to the football game it is Think Pink week on campus with proceeds going to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Make sure to stop by either the women's soccer games on Friday and Sunday, the swim meet on Sunday or volleyball match next Tuesday to pick up your Pink EIU gear and help find a cure.

We leave you with a little ditty from Little River Band.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Know Your Opponent - Murray State

As we enter the home stretch of the know your opponent segment I guess it is somewhat appropriate that Murray State with the nickname Racers is this week's opponent.

It's homecoming week at EIU and here are some of the events that are taking place on the campus.

1.) Men's soccer kicked off the week with a 2-2 tie with Bradley on Wednesday afternoon
2.) Women's soccer plays a pair of home games on Friday (3 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.)
3.) Football is home at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday
4.) Swimming is home at 1 p.m. on Sunday (that is a time change from earlier noted schedules)

This week is also Pink Zone week around EIU athletics with merchandise being sold at most athletic events to go towards the fight against breast cancer. It starts Friday at women's soccer and will run through Tuesday's volleyball match.

A quick congrats to EIU sophomore runner Olivia Klaus who picked up her third OVC Runner of the Week award. Also men's and women's golf wrapped up play at the Austin Peay Fall Invite.

Now on to know your opponent.

1.) Murray State's nickname for its sports teams is Racers with the exception of the baseball team which still goes by the moniker Thoroughbreds

2.) At MSU home games Racer 1 runs around the track following each Murray State score. They also play a bingo game that guesses which square the horse will take a Racer 2 in.

3.) The school was founded at the same time as Morehead State (another OVC school, but one that fails to play football at the scholarship level). Murray was chosen as the site for Normal School in the western part of the state while Morehead was chosen for the eastern part of the state

4.) The University changed to a system of referring to its dorms as colleges much like the Ivy League schools do. The system is popular with its founding in England at world famous schools like Oxford and Cambridge

5.) Until a number of years ago Calloway County - where Murray is located - was one of the dry counties in Kentucky. It's always funny that states like Kentucky and Tennessee that make Bourbon and Whiskey seem to be the most with dry counties. Lynchburg, Tenn., where Jack Daniels is made is located in a dry county.

Next week focus on Austin Peay and for those that don't know their chant, tune in next week to see what happens when the fly is open.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Way The Ball Bounces

I was thinking about a quote to describe some of the things that happen in sports and one that continues to come to mind is - "the ball takes some funny bounces."

While that quote can be attributed to many things in life, I thought the best take on that quote was by legendary coach Lou Holtz who said - "the man who complains about the way the ball bounces is usually the one who dropped it."

Dropping things has been a negative trend for the EIU football team this season as the Panthers have fallen to the bottom of the FCS ranks in turnovers this season with 27. That all despite no turnovers against No. 9 ranked Iowa from the Big Ten in the season opener.

EIU is currently on a seven game losing skid, nine if you count back to last season. While the work has been there, the breaks have not. Even in the games where statistically the Panthers are going toe-to-toe with their opponent that little devil "the turnover" creeps up and bites EIU.

Hopefully the ball will take a little friendlier bounce in the next couple of weeks as EIU will also face a couple of teams that have their own ups-and-downs this season as EIU hosts Murray State and Austin Peay the next two weeks before playing at Tennessee State on Nov. 6. The season finale is Nov. 13 at Illinois State.

Speaking of funny bounces that could happen. Looking at the OVC women's soccer standings today, they are about as clear as mud as far as EIU is concerned. The Panthers are 2-2-2 following a 1-1 tie with Tennessee Tech on Sunday. That puts EIU in 7th place with upcoming matches with UT Martin and Murray State at home. EIU could win both matches and catapult to second place or find itself falling all the way to 8th with a pair of losses. Like I said, clear as mud.

While football did not have success against TTU, falling 34-20 on Saturday. Women's rugby continued to roll with a 45-0 win over UW Milwaukee and men's soccer lost to SIU Edwardsville, 2-1. The Panthers have a show down with Bradley on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. EIU needs to salvage some points against either Bradley or Evansville (next week's MVC game) to help secure a spot in the MVC Tournament.

More to come later this week as we see how the ball bounces.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Big Wheels Keep On Turning...

You ever have those mornings when you get a certain song stuck in your head and though you probably don't know all the words you know enough to keep it on repeat in your brain.

For me this morning it was Proud Mary, but the phrase that keeps playing over and over is Big Wheels Keep On Turning. While I'm sure that CCR or Ike & Tina were not talking about the road to Cookeville, Tenn., that is what I'm thinking about as football makes the trip this weekend.

Actually the song refers to rolling down the Mississippi River and while that major body of water will be near the EIU teams on the road this weekend, none of them will actually cross it.

Football as we said is on its way to Tennessee Tech which is nestled in the Cumberland Mountains which are quite pretty this time of year. Hopefully this peaceful setting will the be the backdrop for a Panthers breakout for EIU's first win of the season.

Women's soccer will be right behind the football team as they head down to Cookeville for a Sunday match with the Golden Eagles. It is the only match for EIU women's soccer this weekend as they look to add points in the OVC championship race.

Volleyball hit the road last night for a win at UT Martin and will play the back end of that trip at Murray State on Saturday afternoon.

Cross country competed on Friday with an impressive showing by the women's team at the Bradley Classic. Peoria will be the site of the NCAA Regional in a few weeks so a test run on that course was good practice for the Panthers.

Women's rugby will head north to Milwaukee for a Saturday match.

Men's soccer is the lone EIU fall team in action at home this weekend as they host SIU Edwardsville at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Lakeside Field. Come on out and support the Panthers.

And remember Big Wheels Keep on Turning, Proud Mary Keep on Burning... Rollin', Rollin', Rollin' down the River.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Know Your Opponent - Tennessee Tech

As the weeks of the season wind down we are now past the halfway point of the know your opponent sections on the EIU blog. This week we look at Tennessee Tech which located in Cookeville, Tenn., is the longest trip of the 2010 season for EIU.

But before we get to the know your opponent facts, a quick congrats to EIU men's soccer on their 1-0 win over Central Arkansas. The Panthers had been on the wrong side of four straight 1-0 decisions before the ball bounced in their favor on Wednesday.

Also for those fans who like to check out online media guides the men's and women's 2011 books are now available for viewing. Based on some pending NCAA legislation these will most likely be the final media guides ever printed at Eastern Illinois. The school will continue to produce online versions for all sports.

Now on to this week's know your opponent

1.) Notable alumni from TTU include two NASA Astronauts (Roger Crouch and Barry Wilmore) along with a few former NFL players (most notably Jim Youngblood).

2.) Watson Brown is the brother of Texas head coach Mack Brown.

3.) TTU was founded as a private school with the name Dixie College in 1909 but is now a state institution.

4.) The Golden Eagle that sits on top of one of the school buildings (Derryberry Hall) was stolen from a hotel in Monteagle, Tenn.

5.) One of the newer universities in the nation, Tennessee Polytechnical Institute was founded in 1915, the same year as the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Good News

For those that have been following the mine rescue in Chile it appears that it may finally be coming to a close with good news in sight. As of this post nine of the miners had been successfully brought to the surface.

Could you ever imagine yourself stuck in a situation like that? Nowadays we complain if our internet is too slow or our cell phone doesn't have reception but to go nearly 70 days with nothing. You really have to admire those folks for keeping some faith.

Speaking of good news, since we last posted the Panthers have been on a roll (take out Saturday's tough day for men's soccer and football).

EIU volleyball has won two matches in a row following Saturday's five set win over Tenneseee Tech and Monday night's win at UIC.

Women's soccer picked up three points in the OVC race with a 1-0 win over Eastern Kentucky

Women's rugby rolled over Michigan.

As far as individual awards - EIU goalkeeper Kaylin Lorbert was named the OVC Goalie of the Week while volleyball player Jorie Dieter was named the OVC Defensive Player of the Week for her play at the net.

Let's hope the good news continues to come this week for Panther sports teams as many of them will be playing on the road. The lone home action this weekend is Saturday men's soccer against SIU Edwardsville at 2 p.m.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Deep Thoughts

One of the best parts of Saturday Night Live from a few years ago was the quick "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handey segment they used to run. Getting ready for the trip to Eastern Kentucky this morning made me have several deep thoughts of my own.

First does Jack Handey still do these - answer yes. He like everything else in this world can be found on the internet. Here is one I thought was funny.

Next does every collegiate soccer game end up with at least one team showing zero on the scoreboard - answer yes (at least on Friday in the Ohio Valley Conference). Part of that included Eastern's 0-0 tie with Morehead State in which the Panthers had two overtime chances by Ashley Streid.

My other ponderings all have to do with things yet to come like will EIU win its first football game on Saturday at EKU. Will the men's soccer team knock off Missouri State for a second straight year. Will volleyball pick up its second OVC win against Tennessee Tech. And will women's rugby shutout Michigan. For the last couple of those you can find out in person if you head up to the EIU campus for weekend events.

Saturday 2 p.m. - EIU men's soccer vs. Missouri State
Saturday 2 p.m. - EIU volleyball vs. Tennessee Tech
Sunday 11 a.m. - EIU women's rugby vs. Michigan
Sunday 1 p.m. - EIU women's soccer vs. Eastern Kentucky

Saturday night at 6 p.m. - listen live to the EIU-EKU game or watch on ESPN3.com. You can also join us for a live in-game blog on our website www.eiupanthers.com

Final house keeping note is the women's volleyball recap on Friday night against Jacksonville State, EIU fell 3-1.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Things To See In A Lifetime

When you pose the question name 10 things you would like to see or do in your lifetime everyone would have a different list, but some surprisingly would be the same.

One such item that was never really on my list happened yesterday afternoon as Roy Halladay tossed a no-hitter as the Philadelphia Phillies shut out the Cincinnati Reds in the opening round of the National League Divisional Series.

While you may say a no-hitter is not that big a deal (269 total), there have only been two ever thrown in the baseball playoffs. The other was Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. By the way that perfect game got Larsen into the Baseball Hall of Fame despite a career losing record.

In my collegiate career I have been fortunate enough to visit some of the places in the United States that most normal folks only dream about heading to. From walking on the beach in Hawai'i, to traveling down the strip in Vegas, to sledding in the winter in Alaska.

This year athletes from EIU have also had the opportunity to hit unique destinations and here are a few(some already happened, some are still to come).

1.) Walking in the pink locker room at Iowa's Kinnick Stadium
2.) Playing and walking through historic Harvard University
3.) Competing at Oregon's historic Hayward Track Stadium
4.) Women's basketball playing in Miami, with a possible side trip to South Beach

Know Your Opponent - Eastern Kentucky

Today we quickly look at this week's football opponent Eastern Kentucky on our weekly check of Know Your Opponent.

But first a couple of congratulations to EIU athletes who collected top conference honors earlier this week.

From women's golf Lauren Williams was named the OVC Golfer of the Week after she finished in 7th place at the Butler Fall Invite. The women's team placed 7th overall at the event which took place on Monday and Tuesday while the men placed 8th.

Also earlier this week senior EIU punter Kevin Cook was named the National Special Teams Player of the Week, he won the OVC award on Sunday.

Our final housekeeping note before looking at some facts about EKU is that EIU indoor track released its 2010-11 schedule. The first meet in about two months away.

Now on to know your opponent this week for the 6 p.m. (Central) kick off between Eastern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky. The contest will be part of the OVC Game of the Week package carried locally by WEIU TV and also broadcast on ESPN3.com

1.) EKU is the only team in the OVC to have won an FCS National Championship claiming the honor in 1979 and 1982. Both titles came under legendary coach Roy Kidd.

2.) The teams were known as the Maroons until the early 1960's. EKU still uses Maroon as one of its primary school colors but has since adopted the Colonels and Lady Colonels as the school mascot.

3.) Lee Majors - the Six Million Dollar Man - graduated from EKU and actually played football briefly for the school before an injury ended his athletic career.

4.) Dan Patrick - of ESPN Fame - played two years of college basketball at EKU before transferring and earning his degree from another university.

5.) EKU is one of 20 universities in the nation that has a major in Professional Golf Management

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Missed Opportunities

Life is full of missed opportunities like looking back on that first little kid crush or as an adult deciding should I have done this or that for a living. Sports is also full of missed opportunities that seem to play out on a more frequent basis.

On Sunday both EIU soccer teams fell 1-0 (men & women) on the road and you can bet both coaches would tell you about how this shot or that one could have been the difference in the match.

The Panther football team can also looked at missed opportunities they might have missed that would have made the difference in either of their recent home losses. EIU had two red zone chances that ended in field goals instead of touchdowns during a 28-13 loss to SEMO.

The other missed opportunity will be Panther fans that never had the chance to meet former player Cameron Brosseau who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on Saturday morning. Brosseau played for EIU during Coach Spoo's first couple of years at EIU and was working as a detective in the Indianapolis police department. Our condolences go out to his family.

Other EIU news from the weekend includes women's rugby picking up a shut out win over Minnesota and volleyball falling in three sets at Austin Peay on Saturday.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Everyone Gets An Opinion

Take any subject out there and everyone gets or has an opinion on it. Now their opinion may not be right based on which side of the fence you are sitting on, but still they get one.

That comes to mind as I was reading the paper today and noticed that the Associated Press has listed their top 12 football movies. Now some of them would make my list, but some surely would not. One movie on the list is a Marx Brothers comedy called Horse Feathers. Now I have never seen this film, but guessing that it is black and white, my take is that most people would have the opinion that a six-year old recently told me. "I like the cartoons much better in color."

As for Eastern Illinois it has created a little room for opinions also as the Panthers will start freshman quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for the second straight week. The first time starter was okay for his first collegiate start but what is going to stir those opinions is that former starter Brandon Large came off the bench in the final 6 minutes and looked like a world beater. People must remember that Large was the starter for the first three games when EIU averaged 8 points per game and ranked third to last in the nation for third down conversions - so only time will tell which direction is the better one.

Now for quick recaps of Friday night action. Cross country had a successful trip to the Notre Dame Invite. The Panther women placed 7th in a solid field with Olivia Klaus and Erika Ramos posting Top 20 times. The men placed 10th.

Both EIU soccer teams found themselves on the wrong side of one-goal decisions. Men's soccer fell 1-0 at No. 13 Creighton while women's soccer fell 2-1 at SIU Edwardsville. Volleyball also lost on Friday night at Tennessee State by a 3-1 score.

For those that can not make it to Charleston for Saturday's Family Weekend football game with Southeast Missouri, the game can be seen on ESPN3.com on computers around the world.