SMYRNA – Smyrna High finished with a 6-5 record for the third season in four years in 2014 after switching to a faster-paced spread offense.
The change benefited quarterback John Turner, who threw for 1,333 yards as a sophomore. But four of the Bulldogs’ top receivers are gone, including UT-Chattanooga freshman D.J. Williams.
That leaves a big void for Smyrna coach Matt Williams as he competes in the new Region 2-6A
Here are five questions on the Smyrna football team for this season.
Will Casey Perkins be Smyrna’s next 1,000-yard rusher?
Perkins saw limited time in the backfield a year ago. However, the junior enters this season as the starter. The Bulldogs are a year removed from its last 1,000-yard rusher — LaDarius Summers. However, he runs well in space.
The coaching staff has confidence in Perkins, who will also be the punt returner and kickoff returner.
Can the Bulldogs veer away from the injury bug?
Smyrna had four starters out of the jamboree for various injuries. Williams hasn’t had his first team on the field at all during the preseason.
Ikenna Okeke (shoulder), Austin Brown (back) are probably the two most significant injuries. They both have big roles as two-way players for the Bulldogs.
Plus linebacker Deylon Williams is already likely out for the regular season after an injury during the spring.
How much improvement has QB John Turner in his second year?
Turner’s summer involved going to the Manning Passing Academy. That should benefit the second-year starter. He has a strong arm and is now familiar with the Bulldogs’ spread offense.
However, the biggest factor for improvement in 2015 is the addition of assistant Alex Robins. Robins, a former MTSU quarterbacks coach, is the area’s top coach when it comes to quarterbacks.
Which position is a concern?
Defensive secondary. There is potential in the secondary, led by Okeke. Okeke is a standout safety and has multiple college offers. Cornerback Ian Cleveland also has experience. But free safety Nathan Sanders is a newcomer to the defense, and Jordan Jones is new at the corner spot.
Opposing teams will shy away from Okeke during the season due to speed and length. He tied for a team-high in interceptions with five in 2014.
Are the Bulldogs ready to be a region title contender?
Staying injury free is key for the Bulldogs. Depth is a concern at multiple positions. The loss of Deylon Williams at linebacker is also big. He recorded 67 tackles as a sophomore.
The Bulldogs are likely not a region title contender, but could be good enough to earn a home playoff game. Teams must finish in the top four to earn a home playoff game.
Reach Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 and on Twitter @Kreager.
at La Vergne
at Coffee Co.
at Cane Ridge
at Clarksville NE
at Stewarts Creek
Head coach: Matt Williams, eighth season (45-36 overall, 45-36 at Smyrna)
2014 record: 6-5
Stadium name: Robert L. Raikes Stadium
Twitter name: @SmyrnaFootball
Last year in playoffs: 2014 (lost to Riverdale 20-7 in the first round of the playoffs)
Region 2-6A opponents: Blackman, Coffee Co., Cookeville, Oakland, Riverdale, Siegel, Warren Co.