Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ferrum Continues Skid-
Falls to Hundington 35-16

Some Saturdays it works out so that I don't get to watch the Ferrum game online. Yesterday was one of those days. I worked my full time job yesterday, and while I tried to watch, as much as I could on my cell phone, the WiFi signal was hit and miss, so I gave up and finally got to watch it this morning.

There were some positives, but some real head scratching moments also. To hold Huntingdon to 14 points in the first half indicated a great effort, but to only put up 3 in the same half was frustrating to say the least. On offense, Ferrum again seemed to move the ball, but was shut down in the red zone. The offense is not producing at the rate that I had hoped, and while they had their chances, they seemed unable to capitalize.
Special teams struggled as well. The Ferrum defense that had done so well in the first half, seemed to have their schemes figured out by Huntingdon in the second half, and the Hawks took advantage.

There were very few that thought Ferrum had a chance in this game. but they played well. The statistics bear that out, but the score board did not. Statistically, Ferrum had a strong game, and there were areas, such as rushing, that Ferrum outperformed Huntingdon, but to me, there seems to be a breakdown as the field gets shorter. The "red zone", from the 20 to the goal line, seems to be a tough area for any team to score, but for Ferrum, they definitely struggle. Here are the cumulative season stats so far:

2014 Season Stats

I have received the question already as to the reasoning for taking the first string defense out of the game in the second half. I am stumped by that one. I can only guess that it was a tactic. Why do it? I just don't know. It did get some players quality time in a game situation, but to go beyond that in this forum, would only be speculation. If I had to speculate, it could be that he wanted a fresh group on the field. or he wanted to give the starters a hint that maybe they should not be so secure in their starting jobs. Maybe he wanted to see how "hungry" the second string was. I don't know, but they held their own, and played well.

Ferrum seems to be operating a bit out of sync. It is as if they have many of the parts necessary to win, but they cant get the parts to move in unison. I look for there to be improvement next week, and maybe we can put one in the win column.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Game Preview: Huntingdon @ Ferrum

After a twenty point win over CNU, the Huntingdon Hawks come to W.B. Adams stadium for the first time, with a record of 4-2 overall, and 3-1 in the conference. Their lone conference loss came at the hands of Methodist. The Hawks are averaging just over 40 points per game, with their lowest point total being 29 in their second game of the season. This was a win against Birmingham Southern. This team will throw the ball, and very successfully. The DB's will have their hands full today. Pressure on their quarterback will be imperative.
Look for things to get somewhat easier in the second half of the season, but that may not start today. Ferrum will need to be successful on defense to give their offense a a chance to put up points. The offense is needing a breakout game, and while Ferrum does have some good offensive tools, I would say today will be an uphill climb. Better times are coming Ferrum, hang in there.

Huntingdon  36
Ferrum 20

As for the rest of the conference:

Maryville @ Greensboro

Methodist @ LaGrange

CNU @ Averett

Looks like this week may favor the visitors. North Carolina Wesleyan is open this week.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Freshmen of Ferrum

While all may not be going well for the Panthers in the Won/Loss column, Ferrum has some definite bright spots emerging on both sides of the ball. Some of this year's recruiting class are already seeing a lot of playing time, and many have earned starting jobs. Here is a look at some of the Freshmen making an impact.

#9 Jacquan Martin- Running Back South Stokes H.S. (NC) 

Martin is seeing some playing time, and came to Ferrum after a solid high school career. Having seen action in 4 of Ferrum's first five games, Martin is establishing himself as a back that will be a future difference maker for the Panthers.

#15 Mason James- Defensive Back Seabreeze H.S. (FL)

One of three recruits from Seabreeze High School, James has appeared in three games this season, but seemed to find his footing against Maryville, as he recorded 4 tackles.

#16 Rashad Johnson- Defensive Back  Stonewall Jackson H.S. (VA)

Johnson has come out of the gates on fire.  As a starter in the first five games, he has 49 tackles, 3 pass break ups, and 1 interception. Look for this freshman to only get better. He is an important part of the Ferrum defensive renaissance.

#21 Shy Smith- Defensive Back  Chatham H.S. (VA)

I first heard of Shy through one of his High School coaches, Ferrum alum Roger Keaton. He had high praise for Smith, and after 5 games, I see why. Starting all 5 games, he has 29 tackles, 1 pass break up, and 1 interception.

#39 Jacob Smoak- Kicker  Brookland-Cayce H.S. (SC)

One of three kickers on the Panthers roster, Jacob is showing a strong ability to kick good distances with accuracy. So far, Smoak is 2 of 3 in field goals, with his longest being 35 yards.

#45 Raul Gonzalez- Linebacker Seabreeze H.S. (FL)

Another one of the Seabreeze H.S. "Florida Boys", Gonzalez is really developing as a solid linebacker. Gonzalez earned a starting job as middle linebacker in the second game of the season and since then has 27 tackles 2 sacks, and 1 quarterback hurry. Look for Gonzalez to continue to develop, and have a major impact.

#55 Al Matthews- Defensive Lineman Franklin County H.S. (VA)

A local Franklin County product, Matthews is making the coaches of Franklin County High School proud, as well as the Ferrum coaches. Having started all 5 games, Matthews has recorded 33 tackles and 2 sacks. Look for him to continue to be a thorn in the side of opponents.

#96 Montel Lee- Defensive Lineman Andalusia H.S. (AL)

Having played in all five games, "The Alabama Wildman" is getting a lot of folks attention....especially the opposing teams. At the mid point of the season, he has 30 tackles....14 of which are tackles for a loss of yardage, and two sacks. Look for him to just get better as time goes on.

Other freshmen that I feel will be making an impact in the near future include Ben Pulley, Josh Bare, Stephen DiCenzo, Brian Roberts, Kyle Smith, and Jackson Lowther

This list only makes up a small portion of the incoming freshman class. This was, in my opinion one of the best recruiting classes in a while. It takes time, but Ferrum is building a strong foundation. It is a process, and if the freshmen will stick with the process, Ferrum will get better. Player retention is a issue when all you do is practice and there are no scholarships, but Ferrum, right now has the potential to be strong. I say this as the record is 0-5, but the improvements they are showing will only be enhanced if players stay committed to the program.

A Closer Look at the Maryville Game

All in all, the stats show one glaring deficiency, the running game was not there for Ferrum. You could look at conditions as a cause, but I think the more likely cause was the Scots had as their primary task to disrupt Tim Reynolds, and they did. Ferrum could not get a solid ground game established, and while the poor conditions existed for both teams, Maryville was able to generate 236 yards on the ground, compared to Ferrum's 123....and Ferrum had one more running play than Maryville.

I am concerned about the Ferrum offense, but there is a lot of talent on that side of the ball. We have to get more points on the board, and I know there are many out there that believe that Ferrum needs to completely change their offense. I do not see that happening in the middle of a season. Maybe there could be some changes made on a small scale, but to wholesale change the offense is not practical right now. There are many factors that will determine what offense is implemented, mostly that would be determined by the talent level, size, speed, abilities etc. The option or spread option does not require a huge and powerful offensive line, but it is an offense that requires a capable quarterback, and a good amount of speed in the back field.

It has been suggested that the Wing T be implemented. Not a bad idea, and it could possibly work, but there would be different blocking schemes. Not overly complicated from what I see, but there are several variations of the Wing T that may be more complicated to a degree. That offense, like the option, is based on deception, but can be more difficult to defend than the option.

Huntingdon next week. They beat CNU 51-31...ugh.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ferrum drops to 0-5 in Mud Bowl

In a game that most would have thought would have been a blow out, Ferrum held their own most of the day but fell to Maryville, 23-13. Conditions were not good, but I have to say that Ferrum's offensive production is sadly lacking. They again seem to be able to move the ball between the 30's, but, as the field gets shorter, the Panthers offense seems befuddled.

This too was a game Ferrum could have won.  I have to say that Maryville is a good team, but not as overwhelming as I predicted they would be earlier this season. I will post more as I review the stats, but all in all, Ferrum is improving in areas, but must get the offense to be more productive. Many suggestions come in via blog readers, and overwhelmingly there is a suggestion to go away from the spread option look. I am wondering what offensive plan you think would work better....Here is a list of typical offenses.

Leave a comment

And the rest of today's games

CNU @ Huntingdon

NCW @ LaGrange

Greensboro @ Methodist

Montel Lee

#96 Montel Lee DL
Freshman- Andalusia AL

In four games, this Freshman has 25 tackles, 12 of those for a loss, and 2 quarterback sacks. Look for the "Alabama Wildman" to play a big role in the Maryville game. Great Job Montel!

Game Preview- Maryville @ Ferrum

The Panthers return home after a hard fought loss to Christopher Newport. Ferrum, while their record does not reflect it, has really made huge strides in the last two weeks. On both sides of the ball, Ferrum is developing quickly.

Defensively, Ferrum has shown solid improvement. In game 1 against Emory and Henry, Ferrum gave up 223 rushing yards to the Wasps, and 329 through the air. Losing that game 41-12, Ferrum looked fairly porous defensively, and stagnant offensively. After game two, I became concerned that The Ferrum D line would be struggling most of the season. In that game, Ferrum gave up 420 rushing yards, and 45 points, falling to the Hornets 45-20. Ironically, in both of the first two games, Ferrum gave up 552 yards to the Emory and Henry, and 552 yards to Shenandoah.

In game three, Ferrum was back home for homecoming, and initially in this game, the offense looked better taking an early lead, 6-0. As it turned out, North Carolina Wesleyan had a running back that was  All American caliber, and he ad a field day the first half against Ferrum, scoring three touchdowns.In that first half, he had 132 yards rushing.

In the second half, it was as if a light switch came on for the Panthers, and both offensively and defensively they settled into a solid performance. Trailing 27-14 at half time, Ferrum came back to lead 30-27. This is important due to the fact that That second half is where Ferrum began to click.

Against CNU, Ferrum's defense picked right back up where they left off, and for much of the night stymied the Captains offensive efforts.Mistakes proved costly in that game, but this was the most consistent effort I have seen against a CNU team since I started writing the blog in 2008.

In today's game. Maryville will present a tough game plan. Statistically, they run the ball twice as often as they pass. They are averaging just over 288 yards per game on the ground. Expect the Scots to work the interior of the line with their running game, much like Shenandoah. I think they will find the going tough against a much improved Panther defense. The Scots are not afraid to put it up, and are averaging 140 yards per game through the air.

On the offensive side of the ball, look for Ferrum to work the edges, but to possibly put the ball in the air more, depending on several factors, including the field conditions. I expect this one could go to the wire, but I look for Ferrum to pull the upset as time expires.

Ferrum  31
Maryville 28

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ferrum Still in the Mix
Panthers Have Many Tools Necessary To Win

As we go into the fifth game of the season, Ferrum's record may cause many to throw their hands up as if it's already over.....I don't think so. Ferrum is just 0-2 in the conference. I am of the opinion that the Panthers, with a win this weekend, can get right back in the conference chase. Granted, they are not playing a pushover by any means, but if they can beat Maryville, which already has two losses, and if CNU, who travels to Huntingdon AL, loses, then there will be a little better footing for Ferrum.

Here are the standings as of now:

Chris. Newport 3-0 1.000
3-2 0.600 3-2 Won 3
Huntingdon 2-1 0.667
3-2 0.600 3-2 Won 2
Maryville (Tenn.) 2-1 0.667
3-2 0.600 3-2 Won 1
N.C. Wesleyan 2-1 0.667
3-2 0.600 3-2 Won 2
Methodist 1-1 0.500
2-2 0.500 2-2 Lost 1
Greensboro 1-1 0.500
1-3 0.250 1-3 Lost 1
LaGrange 1-2 0.333
3-2 0.600 3-2 Lost 1
Ferrum 0-2 0.000
0-4 0.000 0-4 Lost 4
Averett 0-3 0.000
1-4 0.200 1-4 Lost 4

Ok, I am not saying it will be easy, nor am I willing to place money that Ferrum can win the conference, but I think the Panthers are a better team than their record indicates, and I also believe that Ferrum could be taken lightly by anyone they play. I said back when I posted my predictions, that I thought Maryville would repeat as conference champions. The coaches poll said the same., indicated that CNU would win the conference, but right now, I would say Huntingdon has the inside track.
It will take Ferrum to win out, and get a lot of help, but, it is possible. To me Ferrum is a team that is improving every week. They have what it takes to win some of the games on their schedule, and I think what it takes to be in all of them.
 I have to say, Ferrum has surprised me with the effort in the last two games. They have to make the decision to win. Not the decision to want to win, but they, as a team have to decide that they are going to win Saturday.                                                            

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Great Effort Comes Up Short
Ferrum falls 21-19 to CNU

I had the opportunity to go to Ferrum's game last night, and knowing the historical record between the two schools, I will have to admit, I was nervous to say the least. As I indicated in my Game Preview post, I thought Ferrum could give the Captains a game, and possibly catch them looking ahead to Huntingdon. The Panthers did indeed give them a game. In so many respects, Ferrum seemed like the stronger team, but there were other times that Ferrum would cause as much problems for themselves as the CNU team did.

Some observations......

Penalties, Mistakes, and Miscues

Penalties will happen. They are an inherent part of the game, but teams have to work hard to minimize them. Reflexes can cause penalties. Reaching to tackle the ball carrier, and inadvertently grabbing the face mask is one of the things that just obviously want to minimize penalties, but they do happen. A team like CNU is very talented, and does not need the help of penalties to enhance their efforts.....especially when those penalties, after a score, result in the Captains kicking off from the Ferrum 35......(that was definitely a first for me.)  2 dead ball fouls, a personal foul, and an abusive language penalty, were completely avoidable. This to me was inexcusable, and a complete detriment to the overall objective. These along with a sideline penalty on a coach, were all ridiculous. I would also add that in the penalty department, Ferrum, having two kickoffs go out of bounds hurt the Panthers cause. Yes it was windy, but the kicks have to stay on the field of play.

Turnovers are something that has to be eliminated. The one pass interception was a well thrown ball that could have been caught, but it looked like to me from where I was, it somehow bounced off of the receivers shoulder pads, and into the hands of the defender....those things happen, but CNU did what good teams do, they converted it into points.
The fumble by Reynolds was another example of how quickly a good team can strike after being given a gift. ( If I remember right, CNU threw for a touchdown after the fumble, but it was called back due to their own mistake...offensive pass interference.)

Defensive Effort

Marcus Morrast, and Rudy Rudolph are very good, and athletic ball players. They are a hard combination to stop, and it was no surprise to me that they had several connections. You are not going to stop them all the time, but I have to say that the defensive effort was very, very strong. The defensive front for Ferrum did a great job.  I was really impressed with the entire defensive effort.

Offensive Effort

I heard a comment at the game last night, and I have had this repeatedly asserted in readers comments on the blog..."They always run the same stuff"  Ferrum runs a spread option attack, and as I understand it, this formation spreads the defense out. If the Panthers, from this formation, run the typical run or pitch type option play, they are generally moving the ball to the edges of the field. This attack requires pretty good speed in the back field. If the offense is successful in getting around the corner, there is a good possibility that the ball carrier will pick up good yardage. If the defense starts to slide to the edges, then it opens up the middle, and yardage can be gained through the middle. Lastly, if the defense brings the secondary in closer to try to stop the run, passing routes may open up.

Many followers of the blog seem to think Ferrum needs to initiate a different offensive game plan. I personally have no problem with the spread option, but think that last night, the shorter the field got, the less effective it was. Mostly, I thought Ferrum's offense was strong between the 30's. I must emphasize, they did have over 400 yards of offense, but I think this should have resulted in more points.

Special Teams

Two kick offs out of bounds, and a blocked xp.... Work needs to be done in this area. Punting seemed better as far as getting the punt off, but I don't recall a huge amount of pressure. Kickoff and punt returns were good, but I am still hoping to see a couple come back all the way.

This was a game that Ferrum could have won. I will also add that there seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm on the sideline. The players need to be vocally supportive of each other, they need to motion to the fans to get fired up. This can have an effect, and can help make a difference.

In the end, it is another loss, but what makes it worse is it was against a team that, on paper, looked superior to the Panthers. They were not. Ferrum could have won, and while there are many good points to the Panthers effort, my favorite part about last night's game is that CNU is not going to be on the schedule next year....not as a conference opponent anyway.

Great Effort....Go Panthers!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Computer troubles will stop Week In Review show
until repairs are made....

My computer has failed me, as the cooling fan has quit working. To prevent damage, I cannot use the unit, and am now posting from the library. I must have the computer to do the blog show, and will put that on hold until repairs are made. I will keep posting in the blog, but do not have the ability to post pictures right now...

Go Panthers!

Game Preview: Ferrum @ Christopher Newport

To sit back and think that this is the last time Ferrum will face CNU as a conference opponent, brings me great relief....This will be the 14th meeting, and currently, the Captains lead the series with a 12-1 record. Ferrum's lone win came in 2003, as CNU made it's first trip to Ferrum. A missed field goal by the Captains kicker to win the game, gave Ferrum it's only win in the series.

For Ferrum to win tonight, it will take a defensive effort of excellence. CNU will mostly run the ball. They will run up the middle, much like Shenandoah did,, and it will be up to the D line to plug that part of the game. The quarterback, Narcus Morrast is quite athletic, and can run and throw with the best of them. The secondary will have their hands full.

Ferrum will likely be able to move the ball, but the key to a win will be for the defense to stop one of the best teams, if not the best team in the conference. Tonight will be the toughest challenge of the season, but I think Ferrum can give them a game. The Captains are giving up a lot of points, and have show an inability to stop the least the Salisbury option. After coming off of an emotionally charged win last week, the possibility exists that they could take Ferrum too lightly, and find themselves behind in a game that everyone will expect them to win.

Ferrum cannot afford mistakes...penalties, or turnovers. CNU will not need any help. Look for the crowd to be loud, and for that damn ships horn to blow several times before this one is over. In the end, I think Ferrum will be out gunned, and fall to 0-4, but not without a challenge.


CNU 34

Ferrum 21

Other games:

Averett @ NC Wesleyan

LaGrange @ Maryville

Greensboro @ Huntingdon

Looks like another good week for the home teams