FORT VALLEY -- Eugene Smiths knee and a bit of a cold made the week a little bit easier for his head coach.
After Malcolm Eadys performance last week in leading Fort Valley State to an easy homecoming win, Donald Pittman was going to have to make a decision: return senior Smith, if healthy, to starting quarterback or put the SIAC offensive player of the week back in control after he completed 11-of-13 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns while running for three more.
Im not glad hes injured, Pittman said. (But) Im happy I dont have to make the decision.
Eadys performance would have led to a week of quarterback conversation had Smith been able to get quality practice time, but health took care of the call, and Eady will get his second career start when FVSU welcomes Morehouse to Wildcat Stadium on Saturday night.
The SIAC is employing a different philosophy regarding standings this year. Its website has listed teams conference records the same as their division records, which is apparently the sole record used for determining the division champ.
FVSU is, in fact, 2-2 in conference games and Albany State 2-3, but the standings list them at 2-0 in conference and in the division.
Yet it lists Clark Atlanta as 1-2 in conference and 1-3 in the East, newcomer Central State as 2-2 in conference and 2-1 in the West. So in a way, its ignoring in-conference losses although division records still determine division champs. The conference didnt do that last year, clearly separating conference and division records.
Nevertheless, FVSU and Albany State are tied in division play. The Rams host Benedict (4-4, 2-3/2-1) this week, and then FVSU and Albany State battle in the Fountain City Classic next week.
With division records determining division champions, the Wildcats are in a must-win mode Saturday against a team on a four-game losing streak.
Tuskegee rolled past the Maroon Tigers 54-10 and Albany State cruised to a 42-20 win. Sandwiching those routs were close losses, 21-17 to Clark Atlanta and 29-26 to Benedict.
FVSU won last years meeting 26-19 and leads the series 26-10.
Morehouse (2-6, 1-5/0-3) has a pair of Middle Georgia high school products on the roster: Brandon Sartin of Mount de Sales and Sean Moore of Treutlen. Sartin has 16 catches for 90 yards and a touchdown while Moore has 10 for 74.
The Maroon Tigers chances for the mild upset improve if FVSU continues its inability to avoid a massive number of penalties. FVSU cemented its position last week as the most penalized team in Division II with 14.3 per game and for the most yards, 128 per game. FVSU was flagged 21 times for 174 yards in the win over Concordia-Selma.
Eadys arm will probably get more of a workout this week, facing the No. 154 team in pass efficiency defense and 120 against the run.
The Wildcats havent been all that healthy in recent weeks, and between that and penalties, the Maroon Tigers may come to town with confidence.
Morehouse is going to play hard, Pittman said. Theyre not as talented as they normally are, but theyre a scary team. They play really hard. Theyre going to play hard the whole game.