Friday, November 11, 2016

North Carolina Wesleyan @ Ferrum

Ferrum will host its final game of the 2016 season as the North Carolina Wesleyan Battling Bishops come to town. This will mark the end of what has turned out to be quite a remarkable season for the Panthers. A win tomorrow will cement Ferrum as the third place team in the USA South. An outcome that very few, including myself saw as likely back in August. This will be an important game on many fronts. Besides the potential third place finish, running back Brian Mann has a legitimate chance to set the record for most rushing yards in a season. Mann needs 42 yards to break the record held by Chris Warren. A record that has stood for 28 years. This game also holds special meaning as it is Senior Day, and the 10 graduating Seniors will be honored in a pre-game ceremony.

So what can we expect?

North Carolina Wesleyan is no slouch team to say the least. They sit at 4-4, but had one game on the schedule cancelled due to effects of an early season hurricane. One of their four losses came at the hands of defending national champion Mount Union. They are averaging 418 offensive yards per game, and almost 32 points a game. 230 yards per game, come via the pass.
If they have a weakness, it may be their defense. Opponents are averaging 202 yards per game through the air, and 239 yards on the ground. 
This bodes fairly well for Ferrum, especially as the game is at home. Ferrum needs to play a tight defensive passing scheme, and shut down the combination of quarterback Nathan Gardner and receiver Malik Adams. If this duo can be stopped, or at least slowed, and Ferrum can control time of possession, they can close the season with third place in their pocket.

This will be a really good game, and while I would have not thought so early in the season, I see this as a hard fought win for Ferrum, and an excellent end to a very strong season.

Ferrum 28

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Defense Shines as Ferrum Picks Up 6th Win

For Ferrum, this was a night where the defense shined, and the offense did enough. For Averett, it was a night of almosts, and sheer frustration. I had a difficult time getting the broadcast to come through in the beginning, so when I finally got connected, Ferrum had just scored a safety, and led
2-0. The first half was a defensive battle as Averett definitely had their sights set on Brian Mann. Ferrum kicked off to Averett to open the game, and after each team had exchanged possessions, Ferrum punted to the Averett 2 yard line, and on the first play of this series, Ferrum;s defense collected it;s first safety of the season!
Averett kicked off to Ferrum, and Brian Mann returned it 23 yards to the Ferrum 47. After 6 plays Chase Deaton attempted a 26 yard field goal but it sailed wide left. Similar drives would continue throughout the first half, and Ferrum took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
At this point, Mann had just 48 yards on the ground, and while it seemed that Ferrum was doing OK, the offense had very little spark. The defense however was hitting on all eight cylinders. Averett offensively in the first half was stymied to say the least. They had 29 yards on the ground at the half.
In the second half, both defenses continued to dominate, but it was the Panthers that stole the show. Averett picked up 15 more yards in the second half on the ground. To be fair, Averett, passed much of the second half, and while Ferrum gave up 227 yards through the air, they did not give up a touchdown, and collected another interception. Chase Deaton accounted for 6 of Ferrum's 14 points, and Brian Mann collected his 14th touchdown of the season.
It was not the flashiest win of the year, but it was a win, against a much improved Averett team. Remember, Averett beat North Carolina Wesleyan on the road this year, 38-34. Ferrum plays that same North Carolina Wesleyan team this coming Saturday, at W.B. Adams Stadium. It is Senior Day, this game will decide the third place team, and it will be a very good game. Come out and support the Panthers!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Ferrum @ Averett

Ferrum takes it final and shortest road trip of the season today as they travel to Danville to take on the Averett Cougars. Averett and Ferrum have, to me, turned out to be the surprise teams of the conference. Averett currently sits in third place in the conference, and Ferrum is just behind them in fourth.
Averett is coming off of a big win over N.C. Wesleyan, where they had 276 yards passing, and over 200 yards on the ground. This is a balanced team, and they have had a consistent approach in all phases of the game.
Notable games for the Cougars include:

A five point loss to Maryville.
A two point loss to Guilford

Averett is allowing 197 yards on the ground by opponents, and are allowing 217 yards through the air per game. Their offense is averaging 189 yards on the ground, and 241 through the air. Look for the Cougars to pass, and pass often. They will likely have more success against the Ferrum secondary, rather than on the ground.
Look for Ferrum to work to control the time of possession, and work Brian Mann with plenty of carries. Also look for Harvey Taylor to figure prominently into the running game.
If Ferrum can control the time of possession, limit turnovers, and especially minimize penalties, they can win.Look for this to be a nail biter, and it could be an over time game. It will be a tough game for Ferrum, but they can win it.

Go Panthers!

Averett  31

Ferrum 28

Brian Mann:
Re-Writing the Record Books

Brian Mann

When you look at the roster, Brian Mann's size does not jump off of the page and grab your attention. 5' 10" 175 lbs. when you see him on the field, it's a whole different thing. Since arriving at Ferrum, Mann has developed quite a resume' Below are some highlights from the Ferrum athletics department:

USA South Offensive Rookie of the Week, 9/5/16
USA South Offensive Rookie of the Week, 9/12/16
USA South Offensive Rookie of the Week, 9/19/16
USA South Offensive Rookie of the Week, 10/3/16
USA South Offensive Rookie of the Week, 10/10/16
Set school record for single game rushing yards with 254 vs. LaGrange, 10/22/16
USA South Offensive Rookie of the Week, 10/24/16

D3football Team of the Week, 10/25/16
Set new school record for single game all-purpose yards (344) vs. Methodist, 10/29/16 (205 rush, 139 KR)
Named WDBJ-7 Anchor All-Star, 10/29/16 

In addition to these accomplishments, going into this week, Mann is the third leading rusher in all of Division III This is quite impressive, and while he may continue to climb nationally, there are some more local records that you should be aware of.

Chris Warren

If you are a Ferrum fan, then you should be well aware of Chris Warren. He is arguably one of the greatest running backs to don the black hat. He had an excellent pro career, mostly with the Seattle Seahawks, but also played with the Dallas Cowboys, and ended his pro career as a Philadelphia Eagle.

At Ferrum, Warren was a beast. In his two years in the black and gold, Warren rushed for 2,708 yards, and 32 touchdowns. He holds several records at Ferrum including:

Most points in a season-138 
Most rushing touchdowns in a season-17
Most rushing yards in a Season-1443
Most all purpose yards in a season-2366
Most all purpose yards in a career-4583

There are other records that he has  held, but have since been broken. The most recent one was broken last Saturday against Methodist by Brian Mann. Warren (and Mike Vann) held the record for the most all purpose yards in a game at 327, but Brian Mann set the new mark at 344 yards.
Next in Mann's sights is most rushing yards in a season. Mann needs 160 yards over the final two games to break the Chris Warren record that has stood for 28 years. 

Good Luck Brian!

Image result for photo chris warren Ferrum College

Brian Mann and Chris Warren, recently at Ferrum

Ferrum Survives Early Scare
Finishes Strong For The Win

In a first half that took me from very confident to disgusted, and a good portion of the second half that took me from disgusted to down right confounded to put it mildly, Ferrum had to scratch and claw its way out of a 17 point deficit to secure a hard fought 35-30 win over the Methodist Monarchs.
Methodist had only won one game this season before arriving at W.B. Adams stadium, and looking at their stats, I was thinking that this would not be close....boy was I wrong.
Methodist began their first drive, moving the ball down field using short passes to get into Ferrum territory. Ultimately this drive failed as the Panther defense held. Ferrum took over on downs.
It was the constant, consistent play by Methodist quarterback Xavier Adams, and that passing game that at halftime gave the Monarchs a 16-13 lead.
With Ferrum receiving the second half kickoff, I had a good feeling. That feeling subsided very quickly as the Methodist lead expanded to 30-13. I was in complete disbelief. After what would be their last score of the game, Methodist kicked off to Ferrum. Brian Mann received the kickoff, and returned it 71 yards to the Methodist 23 yard line. Three plays later, Ferrum had closed the gap to 30-21.
After the Ferrum kickoff, Methodist set up on their own 46, and went back to a pass play that had worked most of the day. It was a simple pattern that saw the Monarch receiver get behind the Ferrum defender, and all he had to do was catch what was usually a perfectly thrown ball by Xavier Adams. On this play however, DB Rod Smith came up with another momentum shifting play as he came down with an interception. Ferrum was unable to convert as Brian Mann fumbled as he endured a helmet to his forearm area. Although he would return to the lineup, he did miss the next offensive series.
After Methodist put together six plays that covered just 14 yards, they set up for what would have been a 41 yard field was wide left, and Ferrum would take over. With Mann on the bench, freshman running back Kahri Chase came in and did quite a nice job. He had 3 carries, the last one culminating in a 52 yard carry for a touchdown. With a Chase Deaton PAT good, the Panthers had drawn within 2 points, 30-28, with 0:18 left in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Ferrum's defense put it in fourth gear, and shut down Methodist, and with their effort, combined with what was one of the prettiest touchdown runs I have seen in a while, Ferrum secured the win, 35-30. The run I am speaking of was a 37 yard scamper by Brian Mann that left a large part of the Methodist defense looking for their jock straps, and scratching their heads. It was amazing, and as a fan, sitting in the homecoming stands, I was elated. I went through many emotions, but Ferrum did what they are becoming know for......bending, but not breaking, and in the end, they were on the right side of the score. It was a beautiful day, with reunions with former classmates and friends, and it was a great day for Panther football. With this win, Ferrum assured themselves of at least a 5-5 season. I could not be happier.......unless of course with one more win, they will be guaranteed of a winning season!

Go Panthers!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Methodist @ Ferrum

To look at this game as a given victory, would be easy for the Panthers, but it would be a mistake. Yes Methodist has had it's problems, but they are a capable team. While they do not show all that well statistically, It has only been a year since Ferrum came back from a 28-7 deficit to ultimately win on a Hunter Furgueson field goal with :06 seconds remaining in the game.
Methodist comes into the game having missed two games due to hurricane Matthew, and while they only have one win, they must not be taken lightly. Methodist will come in looking to be the homecoming party spoiler, and try to salvage something out of what has thus far been a lackluster season.

That being said, I don't think Ferrum will have a let down. I credit coach Grande and company's preparation for much of this season's success, and I don't look for Saturday to be any different. Ferrum will go into this game, coming off of a big road win, and looking to secure what many would not have seen as very likely.....a .500 season.

So if you are at Adams stadium Saturday, expect the following:

Beautiful weather
Re connecting with many friends
Great tailgating opportunities
and a Ferrum win

Go Panthers!

Ferrum 51
Methodist 17

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Closer Look at Yesterday's Win & The Season

First, I want to draw some more attention to the game that Brian Mann had. To set the Ferrum record for the most yards gained in a game is a big,big deal. A record that had stood for 10 years was eclipsed, and the crazy part is that it could be broken again this coming week. Mann when the NCAA stats come out later today will have jumped from the 10th leading rusher in the nation, to number 5....if my math is correct. And by the way, he didn't wait for homecoming...... yesterday's performance put him over the 1000 yard mark, giving him 1079 yards so far with three games to play. Congratulations Brian! Great Job!

With three games left, and two of them at home, Ferrum is looking solid for a .500 season, and could possibly end with a winning record......although that will be more difficult. I was asked yesterday what is the difference this year? My answer boiled down to two things:

Recruiting, and Game Preparation. Ferrum had a good nucleus of returning players, but through a solid recruiting effort, the coaches have filled needs with a strong field of freshman......and many of those are starting. I do not have any privileged information, but the approach to the games thus far, to me, suggest a systematic process of preparing the team, solidly for that opponent.

I went back and looked at my preseason predictions, and I had the Panthers with a 4-6 record. So who did I pick them to beat? I had them going 1-2 against non conference opponents, with the lone win coming against Shenandoah......turns out they lost to the Hornets, but beat Emory and Henry, and Hampden-Sydney.....I was 0-3 in non conference games for Ferrum. In the regular season, I picked them to beat Greensboro, Methodist, and Averett. One down, two to go. Did not pick them to beat LaGrange, but felt it was not impossible........guess it was more possible than I realized.

While there have been many bright spots, Ferrum is not there yet. For me, they have already accomplished what I expected them to, but as I have said many times before, this is a process, and this season, no matter how it finishes, is just the first step in the process. The future is bright for Ferrum football, just be patient.

Go Panthers!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Ferrum Very Impressive in Road Win Over LaGrange

In a game that saw a new school record established for most rushing yards in a game, the Ferrum football team posted a complete team effort win with a 44-20 pasting of LaGrange. Jermaine Pitts  has held the record of 242 yards since 2006. Pitts, a former quarterback gained most of those yards in the triple option formation. Today, Ferrum freshman running back Brian Mann broke that single game rushing record accumulating 254 yards on 33 carries.
Beyond Mann's impressive day, quarterback Harvey Taylor had big numbers too. Taylor was 11 of 20 for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns. On the ground, Taylor ran for 44 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Perhaps one of the most impressive stats was the rushing defense for Ferrum who only gave up 54 yards, and no rushing touchdowns.
For LaGrange, quarterback Connor Blair was expected to shine, and he did. With 24 completions in 45 attempts, Blair threw for 339 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ferrum's use of the ground game to control the clock was another important factor. Ferrum employed the theory of they cannot score if they don't have the ball, winning the time of possession battle 38:09 to 21:51.
This was a big win for the program. It may not make any difference in the conference race, but slowly and surely, the roar is being restored!

Ferrum returns home this coming week for homecoming against Methodist. Kickoff is 4 p.m.

Ferrum @ LaGrange

With but four games left to play this season, Ferrum heads out for another long road trip, and travels to Georgia to play their namesake, the LaGrange Panthers. This weekend, the two teams have more in common than their names. Currently, both teams sit at 3-3 overall, and 1-2 in the conference. Ferrum has scored 190 points, while LaGrange has scored 248. Ferrum has allowed 201 points, while LaGrange has allowed 242. So does this mean anything? I think not really, but let's look at the offenses. Ferrum has made the running game it's bread and butter. Brian Mann is poised to break the thousand yard barrier, possibly as early as homecoming. While Harvey Taylor has had a good amount of aerial success, 61 of 105 for 773 yards with 8 passing touchdowns. The passing numbers for LaGrange quarterback Connor Blair, by comparison are staggering. Blair is currently 179 of 268 for 2334 yards and 23 passing touchdowns. Blair is the second leading passer in all of D3 football.

As for the defenses, LaGrange has given up 1370 yards on the ground, and 20 rushing touchdowns. Ferrum has given up 667 yards on the ground, and 11 touchdowns. Passing is a different story.
Ferrum has given up 1634 passing yards, and of those, 11 times opponents have thrown for touchdowns.

In short, Ferrum and LaGrange are both have their strengths, but to turn this into a victory, Ferrum must control the time of possession. This is not an impossible game for Ferrum, in fact, it is quite winnable, but Ferrum must eliminate penalties, and take advantage of every chance they get to score.
It is possible, but the odds are long.

LaGrange 38
Ferrum 24

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Ferrum Falls at Home to Maryville
Scots 42 Panthers 19

We knew going in that Maryville was in first place in the USA South, and that this game was not going the be easy for Ferrum. We also knew that for Ferrum to win, they would need to play nearly flawless football. I watched the game online, and while there were bright spots to the Ferrum game, The Panthers were, in my opinion, very much over matched by a strong Scots team.

The first half seemed to suggest that Ferrum was going to give the favored Maryville team all they wanted. Ferrum led by as much as 7 points in the second quarter, but trailed by the same amount at half time, 17-10. This was not ideal, but it could have been worse, and Ferrum was set to receive the second half kickoff.  Instead of being able to keep it close in the second half, things began to deteriorate  for the Panthers. The Scots, already leading by 7, would put up 18 more giving them a 25 point lead before Ferrum would score again. In the end, Ferrum only scored 9 points in the second half, while Maryville put up 25 after half time.

Numbers Tell the Tale

Looking over the stats, several things jump out at you. Let's start with Time of Possession. You cannot score if you do not have the ball. (ok safeties do not apply to this adage) Maryville had the ball a total of 31:45 compared to Ferrum's 28:15. On the surface, three minuets and a few seconds may not seem like a lot, but this team needed no extra advantages going in, and three plus minuets is a lot of time to put points on the board.

Maryville had 31 first downs, compared to Ferrum's 18. The Scots had 17 first downs by the pass, and 8 by rushing........where did the other 6 come from? PENALTIES!
Ferrum had 101 yards in penalties. In essence, 100 yards in penalties would by itself equate to a touchdown, but how many Maryville drives were kept alive due to penalties? And how many of those drives resulted in points for the Scots? I have not even tried to calculate this answer, but I think it would be a high percentage, especially since Maryville only punted once.

Maryville had 375 yards passing and three passing touchdowns. I said it was a pass heavy offense, and that it was. The Ferrum defense against the pass continued to struggle.

Lastly, The Ferrum offense, which had been primarily based on the skill of Brian Mann, saw Mann stifled, and held under 100 yards for the first time this season. Mann collected just 48 yards, and While Harvey Taylor did throw for 154 yards, the offense was overall struggling most of the day.

So now all that can be done is to get ready for LaGrange. This will be another tough test. I will give a detailed preview later in the week, but know this. If you think Maryville is a pass heavy offense, you aint seen nothing yet. Going into Saturday, Connor Blair, the LaGrange quarterback, was ranked number 2 nationally in passing yards. Only five yards separate the LaGrange quarterback from first place. Get ready secondary.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Maryville @ Ferrum

For only the second time this season, Ferrum will play at W.B.Adams stadium, hosting USA South leading Maryville. The Scots come to Ferrum after a big win last week over North Carolina Wesleyan. Ferrum will be trying to recover from a road loss at Huntingdon.

In short, this will not be an easy task. Maryville is a pass heavy offense, and can score quick. If they cannot make it work through the air, they can move it on the ground. This will be a very similar team to Huntingdon, and while I am hopeful Ferrum can show well, I think this will be an uphill climb.

For Ferrum to win, they must do most everything right. This includes emphatically controlling the line of scrimmage....on both sides of the ball This includes harassing the quarterback when there is a passing situation. This includes continuing to present a strong running game, but it also means that the passing game still needs to expand and improve. This includes limiting penalties.

Things You May Not Know

Ferrum is averaging 85.8 yards per penalties.
Brian Mann leads the conference in rushing. He is averaging 155.4 ypg.
Ferrum has fumbled 6 times this year, but only lost one fumble.
Ferrum  has scored 24 touchdowns this year.
Ferrum's rushing defense is ranked #1 in the conference, and 42nd in the nation.
Ferrum's rushing offense is ranked 2nd in the conference, and 27th in the nation.

Ferrum is an improving team, but to be the best you have to beat the best. This game will give Ferrum that chance. A win today keeps the Panthers in the conference race. A loss will make a conference title nearly impossible. Coming back home will be important, but it's fall break so the students will not be there. It will be a tough test, but it is possible to win.

Maryville  27
Ferrum 21

The rest of the conference

Greensboro @ Averett

LaGrange @ Huntingdon

Hurricane Matthew still affecting the Monarchs. Methodist, for the second week in a row, will postpone their game. According to the Monarchs athletic website, they have petitioned the NCAA to make up one of the two lost games. No decision has been made regarding potentially making up the game.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Misery In Montgomery
Panthers Fall 48-27

While Hurricane Matthew did not effect the outcome, Ferrum seemed to be in the eye of a storm most of the day. One thing to remember is that Huntingdon was ranked in the preseason, and rose to 15th in the nation before losing to North Carolina Wesleyan last week. That being said, from what I could see, Huntingdon owned the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

Harvey Taylor was under attack on most every play, and was sacked 5 times. Brian Mann definitely had a target on his jersey, but still gained 122 yards on 24 attempts, with one touchdown. For the season, Mann has 777 yards rushing through 5 games.

The Hawks are a solid team, and still in the running for the conference title. Speaking of the conference title, first place is solely owned at the moment by Maryville who defeated North Carolina Wesleyan today. The Scots come to Ferrum next week.

Not a lot to say about this game. Ferrum was outplayed by a very good team. This outcome was not really a surprise, but Ferrum has some definite bright spots in their lineup.

A quick look ahead to next week.

The Maryville Scots come to Adams Stadium next Saturday. They will come in with a 2-0 conference record, and a lot of momentum. Ferrum will be glad to get back home, but cannot let today's defeat affect them. The defeat that should affect Ferrum is the one they suffered against Maryville last year. Last years loss 70-37 represents the most points ever scored against a Ferrum team in the history of Ferrum football. Revenge is imperative. A win next week keeps Ferrum in the running for the conference title....a loss will make that very very difficult.

Go Panthers!