The Tigers (11-2) did not learn until Sunday morning that they would face the Panthers (12-1) at O’Brien Field in Charleston, Ill., at 8 p.m. Snow and freezing rain have hampered the team’s ability to practice Sunday and Monday, and the school is still waiting for notification from the NCAA about its travel plans.
The uncertainty over travel arrangements is problematic, coach Rob Ambrose said.
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“I’d feel a little bit more comfortable if the travel arrangements were completely under our control, but some of this is run by the NCAA,” he said Monday morning during a conference call organized by the Colonial Athletic Association. “So here we are on Monday at 10:45 and I still don’t know when we can leave and what hotel we’re going to stay in and how we’re going to get to where we’re going to go and when we’re going to go. So that is a little difficult when it comes to planning. But the short week, you just practice what you preach. It’s not about the distractions. You just find a way. Excuses are like a wall. You either find a way over it, around it, under it or through it. It is what it is. We’re playing on Friday night, and we’re excited that we get to play. We’ll find a way to get there and we’ll find a way to line up the right way come Friday night.”
Senior left tackle Eric Pike said several players have already begun scouting Eastern Illinois after watching a rebroadcast of Saturday’s 51-10 demolition of Tennessee State. Pike said getting a jump on an opponent that the school has never played before is crucial.
“Preparation is going to be the key for success in this weekend’s game,” he said. “We have to make sure that we take advantage of every opportunity that we get. We don’t know for sure when we’re leaving or our travel arrangements, but we do know our practice schedule. So anytime we get on the field, we have to make the most of our time.”