August 25, 2016

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MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin football team used its final scrimmage of the preseason to prepare for the Skyhawks upcoming opponent with the season opener creeping closer and closer.

The Skyhawks moved their 22nd practice of the fall from the afternoon to the evening, replicating next week’s game time. Tonight’s focus was to not only solidify some position battles, but officially kick off the team’s prep work for their upcoming contest at Cincinnati on Thursday, Sept. 1.

While much of practice was split into offensive and defensive groups like much of the fall, the final periods of Thursday’s plan saw both teams inhabit the same sidelines, symbolizing unity for the team’s upcoming seasonal grind.

“This was an opportunity for our one’s versus two’s where we could mimic some Cincinnati looks while serving as the last time to tackle, go live and take someone to the ground,” said UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson. “We got some things done tonight, getting both squads about 20-30 plays and I though our two’s still competed and gave us good looks.”

While spots on the depth chart are starting to take their roots, fringe players looking to make the travel roster are still fighting for their chance to don a Skyhawk uniform. “In my 11 years here this is probably the most competition we have had for a travel list, and that’s a good thing,” said Simpson. “We’re 95 strong along with some guys who joined us when school started, so we are in a good place. There are probably going to be one or two freshman who are going to get to play - which is about normal to what we have been working with - while some of the older players might need to be redshirted. It’s a tough decision, but it’s a good thing.”

With a number of newcomers highlighting the roster, tonight’s scrimmage also served as an appetizer of what to expect even before the opening kickoff next week.

“There are some key new guys in key spots so we went ahead and went through the pregame stretch and warmups just to give everyone a dose of that,” said Simpson. “We just want them to be as comfortable as they can be next Thursday night so they can just go in there and play. The game is going to be competitive enough as it is so all of these little things need to be taken care of now.”

UT Martin will return to the practice field on Friday afternoon before taking Saturday off. The Skyhawks will return to game week prep with a pair of evening practices on both Sunday and Monday. The team will hold its final practice of the week on Tuesday afternoon before traveling to Cincinnati on the following day.

Kickoff against Cincinnati is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT on Thursday, Sept. 1. Action can be streamed on or on WatchESPN.

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