Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Ferrum @ Greensboro

After the week off, USA South teams begin their conference schedule Saturday. Ferrum begins the conference slate with a huge dose of optimism as they finished their three non conference games with a 2-1 record. Travelling to Greensboro, Ferrum takes on a 1-2 Pride team that was projected to finish eighth.
Greensboro's lone win came against Gallaudet University (1-2). and while it does not seem like they have a particularly strong running game, The Pride, is not shy about airing it out. They have been fairly effective in their early season through the air,
The run defense for the Pride is not showing a great deal of strength, and should provide few issues for the Panthers ground game. Look for Ferrum to score early and often in what I believe will be a quite one sided win for the Panthers. Ferrum should sit atop of the conference after this week.....along with 3 other teams.

Ferrum 49

Greensboro 17

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The ODAC Will Need a Team
What about Ferrum?

With Catholic University leaving the ODAC, and moving to the NEWMAC (New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference), there will be an opening to fill in the ODAC. I have been told by a source at Catholic University that Ferrum and Averett are both being strongly considered as a replacement for the conference.
Many would say that Ferrum would be a good fit for this conference. I am not sure what the criteria would be but I am sure that from an athletic facilities standpoint, Ferrum should be fine. I personally believe that the facilities at Ferrum are comparable to any D3 school in Virginia. I do not know where academics figure into something like this, but as Averett has a graduate program, and a satellite campus, there could be an argument made to favor Averett.
I am not sure if this would be a good move for Ferrum, but with the new travel requirements in the USA South with the addition of Huntingdon and LaGrange, I would think this may be advantageous financially.

I want to know what you think. There is a poll on the right. I hope you will take the poll.

Reviewing the First Three Games

Standing at 2-1, Ferrum finds itself coming off of a first-ever win against Hampden-Sydney, and headed into an open week  The first three games have brought about some clear positives about the Panthers, and conversely have shown some areas of concern.

Offensively, Ferrum has had three strong performances, and definitely appears to have a strong running game. In these three games, Ferrum has averaged 253.7 rushing yards. Most of these yards can be attributed to Freshman running back Brian Mann. Mann has been a pleasant surprise for the offense, and gives me great hope for the season and the future. Currently. Mann is averaging 164.7 yards per game, and is the third highest ranked ball carrier in the nation in Division III football. He was eighth going into the Hampden-Sydney game.

Ferrum;s passing yard average is  172.7 ypg. Harvey Taylor has completed 50% of his passes thusfar, (27 of 52) for 435 yards and five touchdowns. He has thrown 2 interceptions.  All total Ferrum has scored 16 touchdowns in three games.....9 rushing touchdowns, 6 passing touchdowns, and 1 interception return for a score.

Defensively, Ferrum, for the season so far has struggled. At least it would appear that way on the surface. Did you know that through three games, Ferrum defense has given up 14 touchdowns. (7 rushing, and 7 passing) I have been very concerned about the pass defense as it, to me appeared to be the Panthers main defensive weakness. This seemed to turn around when at the 10:30 mark in the second quarter last week, Zach Bullard intercepted the Tiger quarterback, at the goal line, and returned the ball 21 yards. With this, the momentum shifted, and Hampden-Sydney never found the end zone again. Is the pass defense on track? Time will tell, but it really seemed like it took a huge step last week.
As for the rush defense, did you know that through three games, Ferrum is only giving up 47 yards per game? The rush defense is currently ranked 5th nationally. Another stat is that Ferrum is tied for third nationally for team sacks, and Montel Lee leads the nation in sacks per game! So in all actuality, Ferrum's defense is looking good....very good. This unit has greatly improved, and is for me, where restoring the roar all starts.

As for Special Teams, last week, punter Tyler Morgan set the school record for the longest punt in Ferrum history when he launched a 72 yarder. The previous record of 68 yards, formerly held by Richard Harr had stood for 18 years. Morgan was named Special Teams player of the week by the USA South

Here are some final stats and honors to look over in this off week. Ferrum will return to action at Greensboro next week......Go Panthers!

Brian Mann
Games: 3
Avg/rush: 6.3
KR avg: 42.4
All purpose avg/game: 235.3
Total offense avg/gm: 164.7
# 3 ranked rusher in D3 football
USA South Offensive Rookie of the Week- 3 consecutive weeks

Montel Lee

USA South Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2014
USA South All-Conference first team, 2014
VaSID Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2014
VaSID All-State first team, 2014 All-South Region second team, 2014
USA South All-Conference first team, 2015
VaSID All-State first team, 2015
Set school record for career sacks, 2016
Set school record for game sacks (4) vs. Hampden-Sydney, 2016

USA South Defensive Player of the Week, 9/19/16

Tyler Morgan

USA South All-Conference first team, 2015
Set new school record for longest punt (72 yds) vs. Hampden-Sydney, 9/17/16
USA South Special Teams Player of the Week, 9/19/16

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Team Effort Takes Panthers to Second Win of the Season 42-20

Thus far, Ferrum has shown me several things. Going into today, I had a really good feeling about the running game, an okay feeling about the passing game, but serious concerns about the defense, particularly against the pass.

Today, it seemed that the running game was solid, The passing game was showing promise when used, and as for the was like the light bulb came on. And as the game went on, all aspects of Ferrum's game got better.

Mann oh Mann

Freshman running back Brian Mann again proved difficult to stop as Ferrum, in what I expected to be a pass heavy attack, continued to utilize Brian Mann as he ran for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns. Thus far, Mann has carried the ball for 494 yards in three games with five touchdowns. He again proved a key in the special team attack as he had a 61 yard kickoff return to give Ferrum excellent field position. Mann has been the USA South rookie of the week for the first two games, and I would look for that streak to continue.

Adjusting Like a Chiropractor

As today's game went on, it became apparent that the Ferrum coaching staff saw some things, and made some changes that made life easier all the way around for Ferrum. The ability to utilize Harvey Taylor as the primary when the road got rougher for Mann, was not a surprise. Taylor ended up with 140 rushing yards. Going into today's game, Brian Mann was the 8th leading rusher in the nation for Division III football. I doubt today's numbers hurt that standing.
While the offense continued to look sharp, it was Ferrum's defense that really took the biggest strides. To work from a deficit in the first quarter, to a halftime lead, and to a second half shut out showed me that this unit is really developing. The light bulb came on today, and Ferrum's defense was awesome.

In the end, Ferrum went 2-1 against the ODAC. With an open week approaching, look for Ferrum to work on prepping for Greensboro. Things are not perfect as there are still special teams woes, and too many penalties, but this too will get better. Ferrum is on the right track, and poised to keep the momentum going.

Hampden-Sydney vs. Ferrum
At Salem Stadium

The last non conference game of the season, finds Ferrum facing Hampden-Sydney. This will be just the third meeting ever between the two schools. H-S leads the series 2-0. For Ferrum to have a chance to get in the series win column, a few things have to happen. Before we start with that, let's look at the first two games of Hampden - Sydney. They opened the season against Averett, and the Cougars took care of business, defeating the Tigers 38-28. The next game saw them fall to a very good Christopher Newport University team, 45-27.
What is evident right away is that the Tigers like to pass the ball. They will put it up a lot. They conversely seem to have a hard time stopping the pass. This adds up to a potential high scoring game.
So for Ferrum to be on top in the end, here is what I see that the Panthers need to do.

1. Try to get on the board early, and try not to be in a position of playing catch up.
2. Ferrum will have to limit the yardage on H-S kickoff and punt returns.
3. The Panthers defense will have to fire on all cylinders. That means the D-line will have to continue the solid work they are doing, but the linebacker and secondary units must step up and make a statement.
4.  The passing game for Ferrum will be important. This has been a problem for the H-S defense. If the passing game can come on strong, it will mean good things for Ferrum.

This is not an easy game for Ferrum, but it is not an impossible situation. The outcome may hinge on turnovers, and the ability to convert turnovers......It will be interesting.

Hampden Sydney  40

Ferrum  30

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Watch The Film, Study the Issues, Learn From It, and Forget It

I will be the first to admit, I thought this would be the best chance for Ferrum to get a non conference win. Obviously, I was wrong for the second week in a row. While the score seemed one sided, there are many bright spots for the Panthers. The start was quite unusual as Ferrum found themselves behind 14-0 and had not touched it offensively.

This was a very difficult game to follow as there were no announcers for the video broadcast. It was almost impossible to keep up with many of the particulars. This coupled with the fact that it was a one camera broadcast, that never zoomed in, and had no replays, made me definitely appreciate the Cable 12 broadcasts at Adams Stadium.

Ferrum had some good things happen, but seem to have a few things to work on this week. From what I saw, The kick and punt coverage needs to improve to limit the opponents field position. This and the pass coverage especially where yards after catch is concerned can hopefully improve.
33 points should be enough, but Shenandoah is a good team. Better that the 7th place finish the coaches poll had them finishing.

Stay the course Ferrum. In the end this game was a learning experience. You will get better. There are not all that many things wrong to begin with.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Ferrum @ Shenendoah

After a season opener that will not soon be forgotten, Ferrum takes to the road. Heading North, the Panthers travel to Winchester to take on the Shenandoah Hornets. With both teams opening the season at 1-0, It could again come down to who has the ball last. It is hard to guage the overall quality of Shenandoah after just one game, but there are a few things I know. Their quarterback, Hayden Bauserman, had a great day as he went 17 of 29 for 174 yards and 4 touchdowns with one interception. Another weapon in the Hornets arsenal is Cedrick Delaney. Delaney who typically lines up in the backfield is a threat running as well as receiving, but is also used in many kick return scenarios. Both of these athletes must be in the heart of the Ferrum defensive game plan.

In recent years, Ferrum has struggled against the Hornets, as they have not defeated Shenandoah since 2012/ One of the differences I have noticed was the size difference along the line of scrimmage. To me, Shenandoah was bigger.....a lot bigger. I am not sure whether this will be the case this year, but I have a much more positive feeling.

Ferrum has shown a good amount of promise after their first game, but as I said in an earlier post, one game does not a season make. There is reason for optimism, but also things that cause me concern.
What I see that needs improvement for Ferrum is:

* Being quicker out of the gates. Don't make come from behind wins a heart can't take it.
*  Let's get tighter with special teams. A FG could make the difference, and so could a kick return.
*  Be ready for the secondary to be tested. Consistent pressure on the Hornets quarterback is a must.

I have a good feeling about this game, and while this is not going to be easy, I see Ferrum coming home, 2-0.

Ferrum  31

Shenandoah 28

Go Panthers!

Can't get to the game? Below is the link you can use to watch the game.....don't forget, it's a 7p.m. kickoff.

Ferrum @ Shenandoah

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Enjoyment Will Be Short Lived......
But Long Remembered

I have already re watched the game, and while this second viewing did not cause me anywhere near the stress, angst, and excitement that the live broadcast did, it did give me the chance to see some real turning points in the game.
What has to be the largest turning point was the reversal of a long punt return by Emory and Henry that took the ball all the way down to the Ferrum 3 yard line. A penalty on the play was described as holding before the kick. And while there was no player identified as the violator, this penalty would have meant Ferrum would have had to punt again. And while the great return by Santiago was wiped out, in the end, Emory and Henry would have still gotten the ball back. This entire scenario was too unsettling for the Wasps Coach Newsome, and he incurred an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. This gave Ferrum the ball back, and was the start of the turning of the tide in the fourth quarter.

Two plays later, Harvey Taylor rolled to his right, and hit Chris Guy on a beautiful pass that gave Ferrum the ball at the Wasps 10 yard line. Two plays after that, Brian Mann ran untouched for a score. After the ensuing kickoff, the Ferrum defense held the Emory and Henry offense to a three and out. The next offensive series ended in a punt by Tyler Morgan who placed his punt perfectly and gave the Wasps the ball at their own 2 yard line.

For the second time in a row, the defense held, and Emory and Henry had to punt. Ferrum took over at the Wasps 38. On the first play, Taylor threw an interception, but it was called back after a pass interference penalty. The drive stalled, and Ferrum was faced with a fourth and 7. Ferrum went for it, and again Harvey Taylor placed a perfect pass in the hands of his receiver Johnny White, and the Panthers had it first and goal at the Wasps 4 yard line.

These to me were the key plays that led to one of the most exciting wins I have ever seen. The setting, the crowd, the back story of Grande vs. his former employer, the new field, was just excellent. As much as players, coaches and fans want to revel in this great victory, its time to get ready for Shenandoah University.

Coming off a 43-6 thrashing of Gallaudet University, Shenandoah hosts Ferrum this Saturday. I have no substantial information about Gallaudet, but Shenandoah and Gallaudet have squared off for four years in a row, and Shenandoah has dominated the series, and leads during that time period, overall 3-1. Another item of interest is that Shenandoah is picked to finish seventh in the ODAC. What can be gleaned from this? Well Ferrum was also picked to finish seventh in the USA South, and has not beaten Shenandoah since 2012. These two facts really have no bearing on the game Saturday. Both teams are vastly different since 2012, and Saturday could be a real test for the well as a real test for the Hornets.

As I do every year, I go through the entire USA South schedule, both conference and non conference games and determine what I believe the order of finish will be, and publish this the day before the coaches poll comes out. This year, I had Ferrum winning one non conference game. It was against Shenandoah.......not Emory and Henry. Ferrum, I believe is on the upswing. They, in my opinion will get better, and I look for Ferrum to soon be 2-0.......Go Panthers!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Ferrum Grinds Out Huge Win!
Beats Emory and Henry 39-38

A win is a win, and one point works just fine for me. It had been since 2005 that Ferrum had beaten Emory and Henry, and to be quite honest, I held limited hope that Ferrum would come out on top today. Thankfully I was wrong. I knew very little about what to expect from Ferrum, and while I knew some things that I could expect, what I did not factor in was the Panther Pride.....Talk about a team that did not give up.

After the first quarter, it was my opinion that a couple of things had to change:

1. Ferrum had to get Harvey Taylor more time to pass

2. Ferrum had to get more pressure on the Emory and Henry quarterback

Ferrum trailed 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, and it seemed that the passing game was struggling to say the least. Taylor was 1 of 5 in the first quarter for 5 yards, and was sacked twice. Where as Saxton, the Emory and Henry QB was 8 of 10, and was not sacked.
Ferrum trailed 21-7 at the half, but that lone touchdown gave them some hope. Nick Pearce hauled in a Harvey Taylor pass to get the Panthers on the board, and what could have been a 21-0 defecit was now only a 14 point difference.

In the second half, Ferrum seemed to really find their footing. Defensively, Ferrum forced a fumble on the Wasps opening possession of the second half, and kept them out of the end zone on their second possession. The only problem was Ferrum was not able to take advantage of either stop.
Before you knew it, Emory and Henry had scored again, and Ferrum trailed 28-7. I was a bit worried, but it still seemed that they were playing better than the score showed. With 00.25 left in the third quarter, Taylor hit Chris Guy for a 29 yard pass for a touchdown, and with the first of four consecutive two point conversions, Ferrum trailed 28-15.

In the fourth quarter, Emory and Henry added a field goal to get the score to 31-15. This was where it stood as Ferrum found themselves down by 16 with just under 13 mins. to go. From this point, Ferrum scored two more times, and converted their second and third consecutive two point conversions. This left the score tied at 31 as Ferrum kicked off with 1:17 to go in the game. It was here where I almost broke my coffee table in half as the Wasps return man took the ensuing kickoff 97 yards to the end zone. With their extra point kick, Ferrum again trailed 38-31 now with 1:00 to go in the game. The final drive was epic!

Taylor threw three consecutive completions. First a 15 yarder to Chris Guy, then a 19 yarder and a 16 yarder to Johnny White. With :18 seconds left, Ferrum called timeout. Taylor again targeted Johnny White, but the pass was incomplete. This did not deter Taylor as he again went to White for an 18 yard touchdown completion with :07 seconds left. This made the score 38-37. Ferrum benefited from an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Wasps, and had good field position for their fourth consecutive two point conversion attempt. Taylor took the ball an ran it in untouched to give Ferrum the lead and eventual win.

Mann was the Man

Freshman Brian Mann was an integral part of this win. He really dominated as he led all rushers with 28 attempts for 167 yards. He scored two touchdowns. Mann was not the only Freshman who had a big day. Linebacker Billy Higgins led Ferrum's defense with nine tackles, and a pass break up.

In the final analysis, Ferrum showed me some very strong characteristics.....they did not panic, they stuck with what worked, and made adjustments when something didn't, and above all, they did not give up. Great Job Panthers!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Emory and Henry @ Ferrum

As we close in on the kickoff of the 2016 season, I must admit, there, for me are a lot of unknowns for the season. What I do know is I am glad the kickoff is almost here. Some other things I have learned is that Ferrum is shelving the triple option offense in favor of a more up tempo west coast style offense. This will mean more emphasis on the passing game. Harvey Taylor will start at quarterback, and there are a host of receivers available to him. Chris Guy will have a major role in the offense, along with 10 other wide receivers listed on the roster.
The Tight End position will also figure prominently, and this will likely be held down by Junior Josh Bare. Ferrum is also quite deep in this position as the roster shows 6 tight ends......5 of them are Freshmen.
 In the backfield, Ferrum shows 15 running backs on the roster, but look for most of the carries to come from R.J. Lee, Joseph Barton, and Samuel Martin.
Quarterbacks on the roster, including Taylor, total 8, 6 of them being Freshmen.

On the defensive side, look for Junior Montel Lee to be one of the key members of the D unit.
Some of his accomplishments in his first two years include:

USA South Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2014
USA South All-Conference first team, 2014
VaSID Defensive Rookie of the Year, 2014
VaSID All-State first team, 2014 All-South Region second team, 2014
USA South All-Conference first team, 2015

Also, in addition to these honors, Lee in his 2015 season, was the National Statistical Leader in Tackles for Loss category. The defensive unit will have its hands full Saturday as Emory and Henry will have returning at Quarterback Kevin Saxton who can really light it up. Saxton hit 53% of his passes last year, averaging 254 yards per game, and completing 20 passing touchdowns.

Ferrum's defensive secondary will be tested early and often. The secondary will likely be made up of the following:

CB 21 Shy Smith
FS 16 Zach Bullard
Rover 29 LaDonald Byrd
CB 3 Lawrence Baranski

Defensively, Ferrum will show a 3-4 defense, and according to the game notes, the defense will have a good amount of experience as all members are upper classmen with the exception of one freshmen linebacker Billy Higgins.

Special Teams look to be experienced with Senior Tyler Morgan returning as punter. Placekicking duties will be carried out by Freshman Chase Deaton. This unit should be strong.

Overall, I think Ferrum is laying a foundation for success. As I saw in a media report not long after being hired, Coach Grande indicated that the program did not get to where it is overnight, and the rebuilding will not happen overnight.
Time will tell how the staff has done with recruiting, and how the new systems will work out. I think the program is headed in a positive direction, but the fans must be patient. One game does not a season make.

As for Saturday, I look for there to be a lot of positives for Ferrum. I think that this game will bring a different excitement to Ferrum football. The Crooked Road Classic, as this series has now been dubbed will add a new meaning to the game. It also will not hurt as the back story will be Coach Grande facing his old team.
While the scoreboard may not be where I would prefer it, I think in the long run, Saturday will go a long way toward restoring the roar!!

Emory and Henry  37
Ferrum 21

Go Panthers!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

2016 USA South Predictions

It's hard to believe that this marks the beginning of the ninth season of writing this blog. As of today, I have published 558 posts, and the blog has had 126,404 page views.....not counting my page views.
I started the blog after listening to an Internet broadcast of the 2008 game vs. Emory and Henry. It was a frustrating experience, because I felt it was a game, Ferrum could have won.  After taking a 50-7 drubbing the year before, the 2008 game was a far better contest. It featured two of Ferrum's best offensive players to ever wear the black hat. Marcus Mayo, and Mike Vann. In this game it started out fairly evenly, but the Panthers fell behind and seemed to be out of it in the fourth quarter as they trailed by 19, 26-7. Vann and Mayo had other ideas as in the last 5:22 of the game, they helped put 14 more points on the board and make the score respectable. While it seemed that the momentum had shifted, and Ferrum just ran out of clock, this was a game that could have ended in a win. At the time I was just glad it was not like the year before.

So now we head into the 2016 season with far more questions, and far fewer answers than I can remember in a long time. The conference has 3 teams with new coaches, and one team that is ranked in the preseason top 25. So how will it end up?  Can Ferrum make a run toward the conference championship? Below you will see my predictions, but first, lets see how I did last year.

2015 Predictions

8)    Averett University

7)    Greensboro College

6)    Ferrum College

5)    North Carolina Wesleyan

4)    Maryville College

3)    LaGrange College

2)    Methodist University

1)    Huntingdon College

Well I got Huntingdon right. Again last year there seemed to be those that could, and then the rest of the conference. Huntingdon, Maryville, and North Carolina Wesleyan, all had winning records in the conference, with the other five schools having losing records. It should be an interesting year. Here is how I see it ending up.

Record projections reflect (conference record, and overall record)

8)  Greensboro College   (0-7, 1-9)

The Pride is one of three conference teams that will have a new coach this season. While they did attain three wins last year, and their graduating loss was low, I anticipate that this year may not be as productive for them. Look for this team to overall get stronger and be more of a force in the conference next year.


7) Methodist University  (1-6, 2-8)

A few years ago, Methodist seemed to have their football machine headed in a strong direction. This year they will introduce their third head coach since the departure of Coach Sypult at the end of the 2010 season. To me, this would make for a hard adjustment for the players, and the assistants. I expect the inconsistency, along with graduation losses that affected all three phases of their team, to keep positive results hard to come by.

6)  Averett University    (2-5, 2-8)

The Averett Cougars are coming off of a 2-7 campaign that could have been a much better year. It is not hard to imagine that Averett could have had a 4-6, or possibly a 5-5 year.   In this pick, I could be way off, but I think when it all plays out, Averett will have about the same results as last year.

5)  Ferrum College   (3-4, 4-6)

After a dismal finish in each of the last three seasons, Ferrum becomes another conference program with a new head coach, and many new assistants. With a strong returning group of players, and what appears to be a solid first year recruiting effort by the coaching staff, I look for this to be a strong first step for the Panthers. Some may say I am being overly optimistic with this prediction, but I don't think so. Time will tell. There is a lot for the players to learn, both offensively and defensively, but I do believe that the coaching staff will push the needle, and move Ferrum in the direction of once again being competitive, and contending for the conference title.

4)  LaGrange College    (4-3, 5-5)

The LaGrange Panthers, are coming off of a 2-7 season that saw their sophomore quarterback throw for 2644 yards and 19 touchdowns. With their three top receivers returning, look for quarterback Connor Blair to again put it up often. If LaGrange can get the defensive kinks worked out, they may be in the mix as the season winds down. This is a team that could pull an upset.

3)  North Carolina Wesleyan College    (5-2, 7-3)

Coming off a strong 5-2 conference record, and an overall 5-5 season, this team is systematically getting better. They will have some holes to fill due to graduation, most notably the quarterback position, and this could be problematic as it appears they lost two quarterbacks to graduation. Their running backs and receiving corps are in tact, but whether they can be as strong as last year remains to be seen. Their second game of the season, they host Mount Union. Yes, that Mount Union.....defending National Champion Mount Union, and preseason #1. Playing the Purple Raiders will be like trying to stop a freight train with a sledge will not happen. If, after this the Bishops are not too banged up, then look for them to have a solid year. If they incur a lot of injuries in this game, and that is a real possibility, they may not finish as high as I have them listed.

2) Maryville College    (6-1, 9-1)

The Fighting Scots are looking to come into the season, and not just win, but win the conference title. While there roster looks solid, they, like North Carolina Wesleyan, will find the experience level at quarterback thin. Graduation took two quarterbacks from the roster, leaving them somewhat inexperienced at this position.
After losing only two games last year (Huntingdon, and NCWC) the Scots get to play both of those teams at home this year.
I look for them to be a solid team, but may come up just short in their bid for the playoffs.

1) Huntingdon College    (7-0, 10-0)

Ranked 24th in the nation in the preseason poll, the Huntingdon Hawks are looking to pick up right where they left off. From a depth perspective, they have 8 quarterbacks on their roster. Last years starter, Luke Bailey returns to team with 17 WR's on their roster, so he will have quite a few targets. If Bailey does not want to pass, he has a corps of 8 running backs he can hand off to. This in essence, is a deep and solid team, and I look for them to make a run in the playoffs.

So there are my predictions for the season. I am looking forward to Sept. 3rd. This year will have lots of surprises, and many good games.

Go Panthers!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

So How Will Ferrum Finish This Year?

I was asked this the other day by a friend of mine, and had to honestly answer, I really do not know
It's a new time, and based on some comments I have received, there is an underlying optimism. For me, I look at some of the following when trying to predict how they will finish. 

Returning players/starters coming back

This is an important factor, and speaks directly to returning experience. While there are certain players, you feel sure you can count on, no coach will really know who is coming back until the start of camp. Immediately, I would look for Montel Lee, Troy Helton, Harvey Taylor, Matt Baker, and Jayson Shurland just to name a few. There should be many more, and with what looks like a solid incoming freshman class, I am feeling good about a core group on the field this year.

Conference and Non Conference Opponents

While Ferrum had some bright spots last year, none came against non conference opponents. As they face the same non conference slate this year, its not hard to imagine similar results. I do think that there will be improvement, and a non conference win is possible. Look for the first game, with a new coach, against his former team, to produce a high level of excitement.
If Ferrum can win one of the non conference games, look for the season to hold promise.
Within the conference, Ferrum will be in the some level, but its hard to tell how they will fare. Having given up more than 55 points in 4 games last year, the defense will have to be a priority,
but looking across the conference, there are several new coaches, and Ferrum could have reason to look forward to the conference schedule.
Ferrum had three losses of less than ten points. (Averett, LaGrange, and North Carolina Wesleyan)
So with that in mind, there again is reason for optimism.

Offensive and Defensive Schemes

As a believer that defense wins championships, I am certain that the Ferrum defensive approach of 2015 will be re-worked this the very least there will be some serious tweaking.
On offense, there has already been a change at offensive coordinator when Luke Summers was promoted after Joel Gordon accepted a job at Iowa State. In either case, I am just not sure what to expect, but I do think Ferrum will be a better team.

So I don't really have an answer to the question How will Ferrum finish this year? Anything is possible......but I want to know what you think would be an acceptable finish this season? There is a new poll question on the sidebar, so please leave your input.

Go Panthers!