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!

Ferrum @ Huntingdon

The hill gets steeper this weekend as the Panthers travel to Montgomery Alabama to take on the preseason favorite Huntingdon Hawks. To start, Huntingdon is averaging 49.3 points per game. They are a predominately rushing team, as they average 50 carries per game, and 280 yards per game. This however does not mean that they will not pass. They will pass and do it effectively. Overall, they have a well balanced offensive attack. Total Offense rank is number one in the nation.

Defensively, they are not quite as strong. Against the run, the Hawks rank 3rd in the conference, and 145th in the nation. Total defense, they are 220th nationally, and 6th in the conference. Interestingly, they are ranked 184th in kickoff return defense.

Ferrum brings a lot of weapons to the table as they take the field. While Brian Mann is becoming a household name in the USA South, look today for his effect to be multi dimensional. I think he will likely score three times, one of which may be on a kickoff return, and the other on a passing play. Ferrum's defense must get to the quarterback often today, and continue to be impressive against the run.

This is a winnable game for Ferrum. It will not be like last week, but It is winnable.

Keys to Ferrum's 4th win:

Penalties cannot happen. This team is too strong to give them anything.
Ferrum should open the passing game a bit more.
Ferrum must be in the face of the quarterback for the Hawks all day.
Create turnovers, and turn every opportunity into points.
Harvey Taylor will be key to the offensive attack. he must be effective through the air and running the ball.
Special teams must produce points whenever possible.

This game will be tough, but if Ferrum can be in it at halftime, there is a real chance it could be a very enjoyable bus ride back.

No predictions this week....just enjoy the game!

Below is the link to watch the game.

Ferrum @ Huntingdon

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Ferrum Dismantles Greensboro 30-0
First Shutout Since 2006

When Ferrum started the 2016 season, the win against Emory and Henry began an assault on the record books. Some real records, and some just unfortunate realities of the game. The win over the Wasps ended a ten game losing streak. From there things have just gotten better. While some records have been broken, ie: longest punt (Ferrum record), most sacks in a game,(Ferrum record), Yesterday ended a streak.of games without a shutout. In this case, it is measured in years. Until yesterday, Ferrum had not shut out an opponent in ten years. It was September of 2006 when the Panthers blanked Shenandoah.

While the first two games did not give me the greatest feeling about the defense, the last two games find the Ferrum D looking much better. Against the run, Ferrum's defense is ranked seventh in the nation. The pass defense, as far as passing yards per game, through 9/24 was ranked 222nd in the nation. I am sure this will improve this week, and going forward......but let's talk about yesterday.

I was not able to watch the game as I had to work. Unfortunately, I cannot find where the broadcast is even archived, so my review has to come from the statistics. I appears that the run defense was impenetrable  as they only gave up 66 yards on 39 attempts.This  averages to a 1.7 yards per carry given up yesterday.
Brian Mann again had an awesome day gaining 161 yards on 23 carries, and scoring three touchdowns. Harvey Taylor was 10 of 12 with one interception. Harvey had 88 yards passing.
Backup quarterback Tyler English entered the game, and put up good numbers as he was 6 of 9 for 65 yards, and had 10 carries for 50 yards and 1 touchdown.

Things are coming together , and Ferrum, while still needing to fix a few things, is looking good. Enjoy the win Panthers, great job!

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Look at the Rest of the Conference Schedule

It's time for USA South conference play, and all eight teams will be vying for that elusive conference championship. While I think that Huntingdon is still the favorite to take the title, The rest of the field features some teams that may seriously contend....and yes, I am counting Ferrum among them.

As of right now, I would say that Maryville has the best chance to challenge the Hawks, but LaGrange, North Carolina Wesleyan, Ferrum and Averett could also play a role in the final standings.

Keeping that in mind, here are my predictions for this weeks conference games:

Maryville @ Methodist

# 15 Huntingdon @ N.C. Wesleyan

Averett @ LaGrange

Ferrum @ Greensboro

Pay attention to the Huntingdon at N.C. Wesleyan game. This is quite an important game, and while I think the Hawks will prevail, don't think for a minute that the Battling Bishops cannot hold their own. While I think it is too much to expect an upset, it is not impossible at all. An upset would throw the conference race into chaos, right from the start.
Averett @ LaGrange could be another close contest, and will tell a lot about these two teams.

Ferrum and Maryville will likely win their respective games, and I think by a wide margin.

It should be a great weekend for football......Go Panthers!

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