EIU Football Panthers Nearing Opener


Published on August 6 2012 6:05 pm
Last Updated on August 6 2012 6:05 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Eastern Illinois University Panthers will open the regular season in just under four weeks when the Panthers host in-state rival Southern Illinois on August 30 at 6:30 p.m.  Single game and season tickets are now on sale by calling 217-581-2106 or online at www.eiupanthertickets.com

EIU senior wide receiver Chris Wright is one of those players looking forward to the opener. “Our focus in this year’s camp is on the first game against Southern Illinois.  They beat us at their place to close last year, so we would like to get a win at our place this year.  We can set the tempo for the entire season with a win in that game.”

An up-tempo offense is what has been talked about all through spring practice and into the first two days of this year’s fall camp.  Senior defensive end Artavious Dowdell, a pre-season All-OVC selection, says that up-tempo style will only help to benefit the Panthers this year. “Our large part of our defensive unit is back from last year and I think we have some different alignments and schemes that will help us.  Facing our offense every day in practice is going to help us as we get into the season.”

Running a large number plays is what this year’s offense will be built around and that starts with junior starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.  When asked if there was one component that would make this year’s team run, first year head coach Dino Babers said without hesitation.  “Our one aspect is our quarterback JG (Jimmy Garoppolo).  He has great skill and ability.  We need to now put people around him that can help make us successful as a team.”

On his overall impression of the team coming into camp this season Babers said the team is hungry and ready for success.  “The last two years we haven’t had the type of seasons people expect around EIU.  Our young men are hungry and competitive.  They are ready for success and are proud to play for Eastern Illinois.”

The Panthers will continue single day practices on Sunday and Monday.  On Tuesday, EIU will have a full pads practice for the first time in fall camp followed by the first two-a-day practice schedule on Wednesday.