Ferrum is about to begin its 56th year of football. This year, like in recent years, Ferrum will open up against Emory and Henry. The Wasps will come into the contest favored to win, but this is not a surprise. With All American Running Back Caleb Jennings, Emory and Henry will be plenty potent on offense.
In looking back over the stats of last years game, there really is not one clear indicator as to why things went as they did. Ferrum had the lead with :14 left, when E&H quarterback Drew Piscopo hit Jennings with an 11 yard pass for the game winning touchdown. One thing is clear, the Wasps can put points on the board. They had 9 more first downs that the Panthers, but only had possession for a little more than three mins. This tells me that the Ferrum defense needs to be solid, and shut the Wasps down right away.
While this is not a conference game, it is important to set the tone. If Ferrum can take this win, it will allow a huge amount of confidence for the players, and the Panther fans. It will also get the attention of the rest of the USA South. To defeat the Wasps will end a streak of losses to Emory and Henry dating back to 2007. No player on this Panthers team has ever defeated them. ( To be fair, the 2007 50-7 win by Emory and Henry was later forfeited, as were all of their wins due to an ineligible player).
It's easy to see that E&H can score. This team had the 35th best rushing offense in the country last year, and the list of awards that Caleb Jennings has received in his college career reads like he should be up for the Heisman. Jennings is not only a threat to run, he was used often as a receiver out of the backfield, and was very effective on punt and kickoff returns. QB Drew Piscopo can run as well as accurately pass, and adds another threat in their offensive arsenal.
Ferrum is no slouch on offense either. Last year, Ferrum's rushing offense was ranked eighth nationally, and gave opponents fits as they consistently racked up the rushing yards. Gone are Dobson, and Vann, but if ever Ferrum could get back on the field without missing a beat, this could be the year. Thomas Porter returns to the backfield, as does Quintel Banks. These two backs will fill in nicely as the Panthers are plenty deep at running back. On the offensive line, it appears that Ferrum has also brought along a nice crop of replacements to fill in for Hollingsworth, Hinds, and Kessler who all graduated. Lastly, the crop of quarterbacks to replace Dobson is solid, but to my knowledge, a starter has not been named yet.
The difference will lie on the defensive side of the ball. Which ever team can execute better on defense will have the upper hand. This could be a shootout, but turnovers, and special teams may well decide the outcome. I look for this to come down to the wire. Stop Jennings, pressure the QB, and create turnovers. This may be the recipe for a Ferrum victory.