- Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2015

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Coach Watson Brown is hoping to ride his “second wave” at Tennessee Tech into a winning season.

The coach entering his ninth season helped Tennessee Tech win its first Ohio Valley Conference title since 1975 in 2010 by bringing in a group of players and building up the experience on his roster.

Now Brown has 17 starters returning, including all three specialists, from a team that went 5-7 last season and 4-4 in OVC play.

Brown believes the Golden Eagles are back where they were with his first wave that came through with that title in 2010. The coach said Tennessee Tech doesn’t want to wait so long to win another championship.

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Some things to watch at Tennessee Tech:

GOFF IS BACK: Linebacker Tra’Darius Goff is back for his fifth year on a medical hardship after missing most of last season because of injury. He led the Golden Eagles with 101 tackles in 2013 with 8 ½ tackles for loss and three sacks. That should help a defense that lost five starters.

GOOD RETURNS: Brown has back senior Ladarius Vanlier, one of only four players in the FCS to return both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown. He’s also one of only five players nationally with multiple TDs off punt returns (two). Vanlier also is pretty versatile running for 494 yards and five TDs while catching 21 passes for 130 yards.

NO MORE STONE: Darian Stone not only led the Golden Eagles in rushing, he also was the leading passer with 929 yards. Tennessee Tech also has to replace its leading receiver in Cody Matthews, who had 670 yards receiving with 6 touchdowns.

QB QUESTION: Jared Davis is expected to start as a redshirt junior. He started the first four games last season before being benched as the Golden Eagles struggled with injuries. Davis threw for 770 yards with four touchdowns and was intercepted seven times in 10 games. He will have Vanlier as a target along with Krys Cates back after a broken foot sidelined him last season.

TOUGH START: The Golden Eagles open at Houston on Sept. 5 and travel to Wofford on Sept. 12. They also have to travel to league favorites Eastern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky, but Tennessee Tech will host defending OVC champ Jacksonville State. They also host all three of their in-state league opponents in UT Martin, Austin Peay and Tennessee State.

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Predicted finish in Ohio Valley Conference: Seventh


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