Wednesday, November 25, 2015

So What Happens Now?

I am sure that there have been assistant coaches, players, parents and fans who want to know the answer to this question. The job has been posted, and there will be a whole lot of waiting. This will be a process that may take a couple of months. I personally hope that the process is not rushed, but at the same time realize that any new coach coming into the program will have a lot to do, and will need plenty of time to recruit, among other things.

The positives in attracting a new coach are many. First and foremost, Ferrum has excellent, new facilities. Any coach coming to campus will be impressed with all aspects of the physical football complex. While the record from this year may not be impressive, there is a good amount of talent on the team, and not all that many being lost to graduation. I believe, and I think most coaches will see a team, that if most of the players return, with some basic tweaks, Ferrum can contend. This team is not that far off.

The difficulty of attracting a quality coach may lie in the fact that Ferrum, while having a beautiful campus is for the most part, "off the beaten path." Remember, the coach is likely going to be married, and with children, and it has to appeal to everyone. Beyond that, the salary has to be competitive.  I have no idea what this job pays, and while I am sure that Ferrum has made strides in all salaries, what can be offered makes a have to pay for quality.

What is Ferrum looking for in a coach? I believe the person they choose has to have a record of success. The job announcement indicates that collegiate experience is preferred. That will likely mean a defensive, or offensive coordinator from a DII school, or a DIII school will apply. Preferred is not required, and therefore there may be interest from high school head coaches that have a successful track record.

I think they need to look for a candidate that puts emphasis on defense, and has recruiting experience. The college has invested a lot of money into the facilities, and is looking to turn things around in the W/L column. Ferrum once again needs to be a force to be reckoned with in Division III. I hope, and believe that Ferrum, in their search for a coach, is looking beyond a conference title. I think the incoming coach must have aspirations of national prominence.

With a full staff of assistants, one has to wonder what does the future hold for them? Anything I write is speculation regarding the assistants, but I would guess that there will not be wholesale changes in the assistant/coordinators positions. I do not think that any coach will come in with a ready made staff. I would think that some changes are possible however.

It will be interesting, Time will tell. All we can do is wait, and hope that the right person comes along for the job........Hey I hear Frank Beamer is available.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Beyond the X's and O's
Above the W's and L's

Wednesday;s news of Coach Harper's resignation was for me, as an alumnus, and as a fan, extremely disappointing. Disappointing because Ferrum has lost a very knowledgeable coach that related well to his players. A coach that has given well over twenty years of his life to the college, and a coach that has had a phenomenal level of success as a player, and as both offensive and defensive coordinator.
The comments from former players continue to come in on facebook. All positive, expressing heartfelt thanks for all he had done for their playing days and beyond.
I never played for Harper, and graduated several years before him, but since writing the blog,  I have somewhat gotten to know him. I think he is one of the most genuine people I know, and I have always been honored that he would make time for me when I called him, and would always call me back if we missed each other.
Coach Harper believed that the job of a football coach is not confined to the football field. He is the type of coach that tries to develop the person, not just the player. There are so many life lessons that football teaches the players, and Harper makes sure the players "get it."
I have huge respect for Coach Harper, and all he has done for Ferrum. I do want Ferrum's football team to be successful, but for now, I will reflect on a great coach, and a friend. I will hope for his bright future, and look forward to the day, in what I hope is the not too distant future, that my cell phone will ring and it reads "Coach Harper'

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Harper Resigns as Ferrum Football Coach

The college has posted the following on the athletics website:
Click Link Below

Harper Resigns

Season Ends on Sour Note for Panthers

As the season wound down Saturday, it became apparent that Ferrum, who had many bright spots during their season, was going to come up short after a good effort against a team that they could have beaten.
When the clock hit 0:00, and in a game that the lead changed hands six times, the Panthers did indeed came up just short, 42-33. In some respects, this game was a microcosm of the season. Troy Helton and the Panthers offense were able to move the ball, but the defense, who is young, and has had numerous injuries, struggled to stop the Bishops.

Some things to hang your hat on:

There are 19 running backs on the roster that are eligible for the 2016 season.
Ferrum has a very strong and deep receiving corp.
Ferrum will again be solid at quarterback.
The offensive line, which will lose 3 members has bench depth, and will have a solid base.
I look for Ferrum's offense to be as good, if not better next year.
The defense will only lose three players.

Where we need to get under the hood:

A total of 429 points were scored by opponents
Opponents gained 2004 yards on the ground against Ferrum. There were 32 rushing touchdowns
2363 passing yards were gained against Ferrum. There were 26 passing touchdowns
We lose Hunter Ferguson, who graduates, and was very consistent as the kicker


In short, Ferrum has finished what I would classify as a forgettable season. Yes there were things to take pride in, but the season was first skewed by the fact that we had only one on campus game.While the end product of the field renovation project is spectacular, there is no doubt that the project timing and delays were burdensome to a point. In the long run however, Ferrum will benefit from another excellent facility improvement.......and next year, we will have night games!
Lastly, Ferrum has to not just improve the defense, it has to be fixed. It has to be reviewed, re-evaluated, and repaired. Yes there were injuries, and those hurt, but in my opinion, if the injuries were the main issue, then we have to improve the depth on the sidelines.  This is what I know:

David Harper is the right man for the job. He has my full support.

Like every season, there will be people who leave the team. This is one of the main issues with any non scholarship program. The inability to retain players hurts the teams chances of improving. A sophomore will be much better prepared to play than an incoming freshman, even if they spent most or all of their first year on the bench. Stay the course. If the players return, the team improves

A teams success is greatly affected by the size and strength of the line of scrimmage. Off season preparations are hugely important in the development of the lines. This needs to be the players job, to focus on getting Bigger, Faster and Stronger.

Lastly, this team could have been 5-5. That would have given them a third place finish. Averett, LaGrange and NC Wesleyan, were all games that could have been won. While it may not feel like it now, Ferrum, to me is at the cusp of success. And while this word means different things to different people, I am quite sure Ferrum is on the way up, and I look for them to be a strong contender next year.

I will do a detailed season recap in the near future.

Go Panthers!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

45 Years Ago Today

After a late season loss to the East Carolina Pirates, The Marshall University Thundering Herd, along with fans, members of the administration, and community supporters all died when the plane they were travelling on, crashed just short of the Tri State airport in Huntington West Virginia. It was, and still is the worst sports related airline tragedy in U.S. history.

Of those travelling on the plane, seven that died were transfers from Ferrum . The head coach of Marshall, Rick Tolley, was a former assistant coach of Hank Norton. Those from Ferrum were:

Thomas Brown

David Griffith

Patrick Norrell

James Patterson

Arthur Shannon

Jerry Stainback Jr.

Thomas Zborill

Head Coach, Rick Tolley

From the 1970 Marshall University Press Guide

Tom Brown photo and information

Dave Griffith photo and information

Pat Norell photo and information

Bob Patterson photo and information

(The Press Guide has some errors. He was from Louisburg, N.C., and
and his coach's name there was Ivey Bolton.)

Art Shannon photo and information

Jerry Stainback photo and information

Tom Zborill photo and information

Rick Tolley photo and information

I will post an article on today's game tomorrow.......This was more important.

Ferrum @ North Carolina Wesleyan

As the season comes to a close, Ferrum looks for it's third win as they travel to North Carolina Wesleyan. The Panthers will have their work cut out for them as the third place Bishops bring a three game win streak to the game and the ability to score through the air.

For Ferrum, Their defense has improved, and could give the Bishops trouble, IF, they can cover tight, and pressure the quarterback all game long.

For me, I look at this game knowing that Ferrum could easily have the same record as the Bishops. This is a game that Ferrum can win. I think it will take defensive surprises, and winning the turnover battle. Look for this again to come sown to who has the ball last.

Ferrum 37

NCW 34

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Ferrum Suffers Unlikely Overtime Loss

Momentum shifted in a very big way Saturday as Ferrum, who held a 28-7 lead in the third quarter, fell in overtime 31-28. It is not a lot I can say to dull the pain of this one, and while I don't want to assign blame to any one person or event, lets just say that in this game there were plenty of errors that hurt the cause.
I was at my second job, and tried to keep up with this via my cell phone. I last saw the score being 21-7 in the third quarter, and remember thinking thats a nice lead, but they have to finish. As I was about to leave work, I tried my phone once again, and when I got no broadcast, I felt it was over. I then checked the USA South website, and saw the final score. My first thought was that it probably happened through the Cougars strong passing game........yes they did pass a lot in the second half, but after watching the game when I got home, I have to say it was more like a karma shift.

At just over 6 mins. left in the third quarter, Ferrum led 28-7 off of a Harvey Taylor touchdown run. After the kickoff, Averett took 9 plays to find the endzone. (5 passes). After the Bailey extra point, Ferrum still led 28-14.
On Ferrum's next possession, Helton fumbled, and Averett recovered. The Panther defense rose up and stopped Averett, taking the ball back on downs. On the first play of the next drive, R.J. Lee fumbled, and Averett again recovered.
With :11 seconds left in the third quarter, Averett found the endzone again, and cut the lead to 28-21.

On their first possession of the fourth quarter, Ferrum had to punt, and Averett took over and began a 17 play drive that took over 5 minuets off the clock. They were held by the Ferrum defense, and had to settle for a field goal. The attempt was blocked however, and Ferrum still had a 7 point lead with 7:20 remaining.
This possession was pivotal, as Ferrum was deep in their own territory. They were not able to mount any kind of a drive and were held to a 3 and out. Ferrum punted, Averett's Travis Jones returned the ball 38 yards to the Ferrum 21. Jones would score an an 11 yard rushing touchdown on the drive, and with the extra point, Ferrum and Averett were tied 28-28 with 5:10 left.

Ferrum was again held to a three and out, and withe the defense on its heels, Averett looked to finish Ferrum off. Things were not that easy however as Ferrum's Sam Soloman forced a fumble, and Ferrum fell on it at the Averett 14, with 3:33 to go.

I at this point, already knowing the final score, and that it finished in overtime, realized Ferrum would come away empty.....but 1st and 10 at the Averett 14 with over three minutes left?????  The strength of the Averett defense continued, stopping Ferrum on three plays. This time however, Ferrum was well within range of Hunter Ferguson, who was perfect with field goals to this point (7 for 7). This time however, Ferguson's kick hit the left upright, and fell no good. The result was an overtime.

It was at this point that the series of unbelievable events, got completely whacky. Ferrum won the toss for the overtime period, and elected to take the ball first. This flies in the face of logic, and leaves me bewildered as to how something like this can happen. Three plays on offense resulted in another interception. Averett took over and after four plays, they sent their kicker, Chase Bailey into the game for a 35 yard game winning attempt. He had not made a field goal the entire year, but we all know what happened this time.....he nailed it, and the game was over.

There are three ways to look at this game. It had it's good, it's bad, and it's ugly.

The Good

The good for Ferrum was mostly in the first half. Ferrum stymied Averett through the first half, and in a portion of the third quarter as the Panthers led 28-7. During this time, I saw some strong plays by the defense, and it looked like the D was really getting on track. It was a solid performance for the first 8:51 of the third quarter, but at this point, the wheels, one by one, started coming off.

The Bad

Before I further detail the loss of wheels, I have to go back to a play in the first half. Ferrum had Averett in a 3rd and 25 position. In was not impossible to think that the Cougars could make up that much, but it seemed like things were in Ferrum's favor. On the third down play, Al Matthews stopped the ball carrier for a three yard loss. Averett was looking at a fourth and 28. Then however, Matthews did or said something, and I could not tell you what he did, but his antics earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and gave Averett a first dowm. This was a huge mistake, and while it did not lead to points for the Cougars, it may have resulted in points for Ferrum had Averett been forced to punt.

After what would be Ferrum;s final score of the day, Averett completed a nine play drive in less than three minuets. In this drive, there were 4 complete passes, and the total drive covered 69 yards.
Ferrum's next two possessions would total three plays, and yield two fumbles, both lost, the second, resulting in a touchdown for Averett, and exhausting the Ferrum defense.

The time of possession was only won by Ferrum in the first quarter.

Ferrum only had 5 first downs in the second half.

The Ugly

The Ferrum offense. It was shut down by Averett in the second half, and looked one deminsional. It appeared to be frustrated, and mostly ineffective. No real adjustments, or so it appeared.

Five turnovers, resulting in 17 Averett points.

Averett had 83 yards on punt returns......two punt returns.

Lastly, the simplest part of the game, the part with no pressure of clock, and no athletic ability required, the overtime coin toss was muffed. I cannot blame the player on this one. This one  to me, has to fall at the feet of the coach, and it could have made a difference. This may not be something that is discussed at every practice, but any player, who is expected to make a specific call after winning the coin toss must not only know what call he should make, he should understand why that call is important. Without this information, anything could happen.

Ferrum must now put this one to bed, and focus on beating North Carolina Wesleyan. It will be difficult, but it is a real possibility. Like this game, the NCW game could come down to who has the ball last. Everyone has to be ready.  It would be nice to end the season with a win.

A Bloggers Note:

From time to time I receive comments from readers, but today, I received a comment that was personal in nature, and totally unwarranted. I write a blog called the Ferrum College Football Report.
This makes me a "homer" and apparently biased. I am called a homer, and I will agree to that. I am a fan, and if that comes with a small amount of bias, then that is ok. The problem with the people who decide to assail me with names and personal attacks and choose not to identify themselves, is that they represent themselves as Ferrum fans, but only comment when they lose. They are not Ferrum fans, but rather are only interested in berating the coaches, the style of offense run, and apparently me and what they think is an unwarranted positive spin I put on Ferrum football.

Use some sort of an ID, so I at least know who I am talking to.....I receive multiple anonymous comments, and an ID would help me. Call yourself anything you want, just make it the same on each comment. If you can do that and keep the attacks less personal, and the language clean, I can publish more comments.
If you cant do that, I really think you should consider reading a different blog......oh! or maybe writing your own blog.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ready for Saturday!

Averett @ Ferrum

While excitement abounds over Senior Day, and getting to play on the new field, one must not forget one thing.....there is still an important game to play. Some may ask....what is so important about this game? On the surface, it may not seem like that big of a deal. A one win team playing against a two win team, but this is the last game that many of the players will play before the home fans. Ferrum closes out next week at North Carolina Wesleyan, so the fact that the field is ready, this is the first and last game this year at Adams Stadium, and it is against a team and a coach that would like nothing better than to come in and put a whoopin' on Ferrum makes this very important.....not to mention if Ferrum can win it's next two games, they will have a winning record in the conference.

Know this however, this will not be an easy game to win. Averett has a good amount of offensive talent, starting with their passing attack. The Cougars are averaging 294.9 yards per game through the air. They have thrown for 2063 yards through 7 games, and average 9.2 yards per passing play.

To me the strategy for Ferrum is to maintain possession, use the clock, win the turnover battle, and just keep scoring. This could be a whoever has the ball last wins type game, so Hunter Ferguson, be ready.

While Averett can put up points, they will also give up points. Teams are averaging 48.3 points per game, and Averett is giving up 327 rushing yards per game. This one may be a nail biter, but I have to believe home team wins!

Ferrum 48

Averett 42

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Records Are Meant To Be Broken....
We May See One Fall This Year

Did you know that the most yards rushing in a season record is held by Chris Warren? His 1988 total was 1443 yards.
Let's see, Troy Helton has 1111 yards through 8 games. He is averaging 138.9 yards per game, and there are two games left to play.........He needs 166 yards in each game to tie the record.......In two games this season, Helton had more than 166 yards. Week 3 vs. Hampden-Sydney, where he got 182 yards (season high), and last week against Methodist where he ran for 171 yards. It's possible that we could see a record that has stood for 27 years fall.

Go Panthers!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Welcome Back!!

The wait is over. Saturday, the Ferrum Panthers will play at home! At W.B. Adams Stadium........On a brand new field! It has been a long season in many respects, and the wait for the installation of the field turf has been even longer, but Saturday ends the wait. Think of it as Franklin County Appreciation Day, Homecoming, and Senior Day, all in one. This is a cause for celebration, and I am looking forward to a huge turnout, and a big win!
Go Panthers! Protect the Turf!

We are Getting Very Close!

If you have not been following the progress of the Ferrum field renovations, you are missing the exciting times. After what has seemed to this impatient fan to be an eternity, It is finally coming down to the point of completion. In the picture below, you see the Ferrum athletics logo being applied. I know they sill have to put the hash marks on the field, but it's getting there! The rubber pellets and sand combination will also have to be spread. According to what I can find on the web, there are approximately 3 lbs. of rubber per square foot on a football field.....counting the end zones, that is 162,000 lbs. of rubber! Will it be ready for the Averett game? Just not sure yet, but it will be close.