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Austin new probable starter for Tigers

Published on -9/5/2012, 10:13 AM

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By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Junior Tarean Austin likely will start at quarterback for Fort Hays State University in Saturday's home opener against Washburn University, second-year coach Chris Brown said in his weekly news conference Tuesday.

Austin and senior Anthony Sheppard, the starter for most of last year, had competed throughout spring and fall camp. In last week's season-opening 41-18 road loss to Emporia State University, Sheppard played the first half and Austin the second. FHSU scored three points with Sheppard and 15 with Austin, although one of the touchdowns came with five seconds left and the game out of reach.

"We are probably going to go with Tarean this week," Brown said. "Just seemed a little more calm, just made a few more plays than Sheppard did. It will be an ongoing battle there as well. Tarean just seemed a little more comfortable in there."

Austin finished 8-of-18 passing for 92 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions, while Sheppard was 8 of 13 for 91 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Austin also rushed three times for 19 yards, while Sheppard had five rushes for 12 yards.

"Just his composure, he is able to get of the tackle box and be smooth with it, not sporadic," Brown said of Austin. "He sees things down the field and makes good reads when he is on the run. He makes good reads when he is in the pocket as well. I think that we just need to stick with him and see how he can lead this team and see if he can get this team going in the right direction."

A. Smith hurt

Senior running back Andre Smith, last year's leading rusher and an all-MIAA honorable mention selection, missed nearly all of Thursday's contest because of a knee sprain. Smith had just three rushes for five yards and the Tigers' running game -- considered a strength entering the season -- rushed for 120 yards and 3.2 yards a carry.

Smith is expected to be out for Saturday, too. Game time is 7 p.m. at Lewis Field Stadium against the Ichabods, ranked No. 15 in the NCAA Division II coaches' poll and 1-0 after a 24-14 victory versus University of Nebraska-Kearney. Junior Ed Smith and true freshman Addie Brown will shoulder the load at running back.

"(Andre) is our leader on offense," Coach Brown said. "He gets those guys playing. They all rally behind him, and we know that when he went down, guys were upset about it. You've got to keep moving."

"You have still got two more backs behind him that are just as good, that are going to perform just as well as he does," he added. "Those things happen. It's football. You are going to get injured. Things are going to happen that are bad, and you have got to face adversity sometime."

O'Brien remains at kicker

True freshman Drew O'Brien, from Thomas More Prep-Marian, will remain at kicker for Saturday. Senior kicker Tyler Kimbrough, the starter for 2010 and '11, remains out with a hip injury. O'Brien was 2 of 3 on field goals, connecting from 47 and 34 yards and missing from 47 yards last Thursday. He was solid on kickoffs, but had two extra points blocked.

"He is kicking it very well," Brown said. "We've just got to work on his height."

Kimbrough's long term status is unknown until MRI results come back.

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